TechTalk Steering Wheel

Published on August 15th, 2022 | by Sounder Rajen


How The steering Wheel Became The Multifunction Steering Wheel

Gone are the days when a steering wheel used to be just that, now it has more functions than most technology

Steering Wheel

Decades ago we used to upgrade our cars by changing the steering wheel to a smaller one or perhaps one with a thicker rim or even just get one with a sportier design. All this used to give the driver better grip and made the driving feel more pleasurable.

Today, this is no longer an option with the introduction of the multifunction steering wheel. From a simple tool to maneuver our vehicles, to the massive circular button holder responsible for a plethora of functions, this is the evolution of the steering wheel.

To me, a good example of this evolution is Proton and I will be referencing the first generation Proton Saga as well as the current generation Proton X70.

The steering wheel design of the first saga was simple. It was a small circular wheel with a uniquely shaped rectangular horn in the centre followed by two L-shaped spokes on either side.

The current Proton X70 however, is the complete opposite, it is chunkier and has more buttons that I would like, the good thing about this steering wheel is that at least these buttons are small and only on two of the three spokes. There are brands who use larger buttons or way too many buttons so I am glad Proton is not overdoing it.

Steering Wheel

While we’re on the topic of the Proton X70, ever wondered what the buttons on the steering wheel in this car can do? Well for starters, you can answer and end calls. It can also be used to adjust the volume of the media played by the car and even turn on the car’s adaptive cruise control (ACC).

Of course, it can do so much more, but the main point I’m trying to make today is that these multifunction steering wheels have taken on a more active role in driving engagement. Some brands even have buttons on the steering wheel that can adjust every setting, like suspension, engine power, safety systems, etc in just one button.

So while for example, the Proton X70 steering wheel can control the channels on the radio as well as other things, is it all truly for convenience? I like to think so, especially when done tastefully like in the X70.

On the other hand, one cannot just forget the nostalgia of the simple yet charming regular steering wheel, no multifunction, no frills, just a good old fashion steering wheel. I think I reminisce more about the steering wheel in the first generation Saga because that is the car I first learned to drive in so perhaps I’m a little biased.

Steering Wheel

What do you think of multifunction steering wheels? Do you prefer them over old school steering wheels? I personally think as long as they are not gaudy and the functions on them are frequently used, then it’s fine.

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