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2015 Volvo XC90 interior. Volvo's next XC90 which ditches dashboard buttons for a full touchscreen experience.

2015 Volvo XC90 interior. Volvo's next XC90 which ditches dashboard buttons for a full touchscreen experience.

Volvo is looking to the future of in-car technology in next year’s new XC90 by doing away with almost all buttons and replacing them with a new combination of a touch-screen, a head-up display and steering wheel-mounted thumb wheels.

The system is designed to make better use of the available interior space while reducing distractions for the driver, but it’ll mean users will have to start from scratch to learn how to operate even the car’s most basic interior functions.

To make it worthwhile, Volvo is integrating new features like remote ‘Park and Pay’ applications and the ability to use and mirror Apple iOS apps in the interface.

Such technology may be as much a hindrance as it is a help, however, with Android-based smartphones now dominating the global sales market, especially when North America is removed from the equation.

Volvo explains the thinking behind the new layout by saying: “[It] is crucially easier to use, ensuring drivers will be able to keep their eyes on the road as much as possible while operating or making adjustments to the system.

“It also uses the car’s interior space far more efficiently and offers a range of additional benefits such as integrated cloud-based applications for music streaming and other services.”

Dr Thomas M Muller, vice president of Electrics/Electronics & E-propulsion engineering for Volvo Car Group adds: “As cars increasingly become more connected to the internet and are able to offer a far wider range of functions and entertainment services, the way in which the driver interacts with the car’s systems is becoming progressively more important.

“It is essential that these services are offered in a way that does not reduce safety levels and in a manner that is easy to understand and optimized for the driving task.”

The all-new XC90 is due to go on sale in 2015.

One of the most respected customer satisfaction surveys is out, and cars made by German-owned manufacturers are the most satisfying — that’s according to a poll of more than 15,000 motorists.

German vehicles took seven of the top 10 places in a customer satisfaction table compiled by What Car? and marketing information services company JD Power.

Volkswagen took the top two places, with the Up hatchback first and Golf Plus in second. Skoda, which is part of the Volkswagen Group, was third with its Yeti model. Fourth was the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, with the Volkswagen Scirocco fifth and the Volkswagen Tiguan sixth.

Compiled earlier this year, the results were based on customer satisfaction with models registered between January 2011 and December 2012. Owners were asked to judge their vehicle on a number of criteria including vehicle appeal, upkeep costs and dealer service quality.

A total of 109 vehicles were assessed, with the lowest marks going to the Chevrolet Spark, the Alfa Romeo Mito and the Citroen C3. In a table assessing manufacturers rather than individual models, the equal-top companies were Jaguar and Lexus, with Mercedes-Benz third, Skoda fourth and Volkswagen fifth.

Commenting on the survey results, What Car? editor Jim Holder said: “The Volkswagen Group deserves special congratulations.

“It is clearly building cars that have showroom appeal and, even more importantly, deliver in real life. Cars that perform in customer satisfaction surveys are a great recommendation for car buyers and act as a great barometer to a car’s quality.”

 

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