So far, attempts to reinvent the steering wheel have all been kind of a joke. Or, a yoke. Unless you design steering systems from the ground up to work with yokes, they’re just inconvenient to use. But that won’t stop Mercedes-Benz, which German media reports is planning to switch to yokes in its flagship luxury sedans, the S-Class and EQS.

The yoke will reportedly arrive on the next-gen S-Class in late 2027 according to Germany’s Handelsblatt, which claims to have gotten confirmation “from company circles.” Mercedes is said to favor the yoke for improving visibility of the road and instrument panel, plus saving interior space by possibly having the wheel retract into the dashboard. (Hypothetically, this could also come into play while using Mercedes’ groundbreaking Level 3 driver aids.)

A conventional steering wheel is used in the 2024 Mercedes-AMG S 63 E Performance. Mercedes-Benz

To make the yoke work without requiring awkward hand-over-hand steering, Mercedes will reportedly eliminate the S-Class’s steering column, utilizing steer-by-wire instead. This would give the steering a quicker response at lower speeds, but dull it while cruising on the highway. The system could reportedly first arrive in the facelifted EQS, which is expected in 2025 or 2026.

The yoke fad was started by Tesla with the Model S Plaid, which has since reverted to a conventional round steering wheel (though the yoke remains an option). It was the subject of both usability and quality complaints, which may be why the yoke hasn’t yet made it to production at Toyota. Its concepts for the BZ4X and Lexus RZ both featured yokes, which were promised to be “available,” but neither offer it as an option yet.

Tesla Model S Plaid optional yoke. Tesla

For Mercedes to adopt the yoke would be in keeping with its questionable UX design in recent memory. Its last-gen infotainment system was clunky and unpleasant to use, and its current MBUX system and associated “Hyperscreen” aren’t much better. Mercedes is also a significant user of capacitive touch interfaces, which have proven both unintuitive and unpopular.

The company reportedly plans to replace them with conventional physical controls in the future, but the change won’t arrive until after the redesign of multiple models that are expected to still use the capacitive controls. It’d be troublesome to switch so late in development because companies of Mercedes’ size have a tremendous amount of inertia. It takes a lot of time to turn a ship around, especially one seemingly hellbent on making its cars hard to use.

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