Automakers are adding buttons back into their interiors. The move to modernize cabins and replace cluttered instrument panels with sleek screens and minimalist dashboards has only frustrated consumers. Companies are backpedaling, but Aston Martin avoided that kind of controversy by pissing off its designers and engineers before pissing off its customers.

Aston assembled a small group of employees tasked with driving dozens of cars and determining which functions should have physical buttons and switches. Design director Miles Nurnburger told media that the team created the “piss-off factor,” a metric used to measure the feeling of having to hunt for a feature buried in a menu that wasn’t readily available on the screen.

2025 Aston Martin Vantage 17

Nurnburger said there are features that, “When you want it, you want it instantly,” adding that digging through menus for temperature or volume control loses the customers and “the experience.”

Screens are also a safety concern. They lack the tactile familiarity people acquire when driving a car daily, often forcing users to take their eyes off the road longer while performing simple functions. Over-the-air updates that change the layout don’t help either, but regulators in the European Union are catching on.

Cars sold in the bloc that earn safety ratings from Euro NCAP could have points deducted, and earn a lower rating, if they lack physical controls for certain traditional functions. However, it’s not mandating volume or temperature control. Instead, it focuses on safety equipment like the horn, turn signals, windshield wipers, and hazard lights.

2025 Aston Martin Vantage 27

However, automakers might be well ahead of regulators once again. Hyundai added back buttons to the Ioniq 5. Lucid said it listened to customers and retained specific physical controls. Volkswagen admitted its cabins frustrated customers and promised a fix. BMW kept the physical seat controls on the door in its Neue Klasse cabin.

The 2025 Vantage has a cabin awash in easy-to-access buttons housed in a beautifully designed IP stack that sits below a slim, elegant infotainment screen. It even has seat controls on the central tunnel because drivers use it, and that’s some useful design.


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