A steering wheel with fixed central controls, a feature of the new Citroën C4, is claimed to offer a simpler, more comfortable driving experience.

The ‘re-invention’ of an old idea, which now optimises the effectiveness of the airbag and groups all the main driving controls together for easy access, was made possible, in part, thanks to the multiplexed connection designed and manufactured by Valeo.

The Citroën C4’s steering wheel with fixed central controls is claimed to be a world first (that is debatable, as with all modern automotive innovations), and offers a number of improvements to safety and comfort for the driver.

Firstly, the new system allows the airbag to be separated from the steering wheel. This safety device, in a fixed position, can thereby be given a shape and volume perfectly suited to the driver’s morphology, and its performance is significantly improved as a result.

Secondary controls (air conditioning, audio/navigation system, speed control) that are usually set in the dashboard or above the central console are now grouped together at the edge of the fixed steering wheel panel.

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The standard top-column module and the controls set in the fixed panel of the steering wheel are linked using a LIN-CAN multiplexed connection, proposed by Valeo in the early stages of design in liaison with the steering wheel manufacturer and the supplier of the steering column.

As well as the advantages in terms of passive safety and ergonomics, this system can make a major contribution to the interior design of vehicles. It allows a greater number of controls to be grouped on the steering wheel, freeing up space on the dashboard.