Does it work? The A‰ Class’s MBUX

CAR (UK) - - News -

THE WAY IN WHICH you op­er­ate a Mer­cedes has changed rad­i­cally. Gone is that fa­mil­iar ro­tary con­troller, used to click on lists at the edges of the in­fo­tain­ment screen. In its place, after four years of re­search with part­ner Sam­sung-Har­man, comes MBUX – the Mer­cedes-Benz User Ex­pe­ri­ence – which is op­er­ated in four dif­fer­ent ways: touch­screen, steer­ing wheel pads, touch­pad (sited where the ro­tary con­troller used to be) and the big one: voice con­trol.

Say ‘Hi Mer­cedes’ and the touch­screen leaps into life, await­ing your com­mand. ‘I’m a bit cold, make me warmer,’ I mut­ter. The A200 re­sponds by of­fer­ing to nav­i­gate to Walmer near Deal in Kent. More suc­cess­ful is a clear ‘I’m cold’, which re­sults in the car an­nounc­ing the tem­per­a­ture is 20˚C, and pop­ping it up a de­gree.

MBUX copes well with rou­tine car-based com­mands: nav­i­gat­ing to my home post­code, play­ing BBC Ra­dio 1 and can­cel (but not ‘stop’) nav­i­ga­tion all go swim­mingly. It ab­so­lutely nails weather fore­casts for lo­ca­tions around the UK. But com­mands

that are a bit more free-form can get an equally freeform re­sponse: ‘Play Spo­tify on my iPhone’ re­sulted in the car tele­phon­ing the Mer­cedes Me concierge ser­vice, while ‘What’s your favourite BMW car?’ first trig­gered BBC Essex on the ra­dio, then of­fered me nav­i­ga­tion to a BMW deal­er­ship. There’s much more to MBUX than voice: it looks the busi­ness with su­perb graph­ics and an­i­ma­tions. Two seven-inch screens (cen­tral in­fo­tain­ment and driver dis­play) are stan­dard; £2395 up­grades to a sweep of 10-inch con­joined screens across the dash.

The A-Class also dab­bles in fledg­ling aug­mented re­al­ity, su­per­im­pos­ing an­i­mated nav­i­ga­tion ar­rows onto a cam­era feed of the view ahead re­layed to the in­fo­tain­ment screen. Clearly this will be far su­pe­rior when di­rec­tions are su­per­im­posed on your ac­tual wind­screen view, but that’s years away. This half­way house helps when you’re fac­ing un­fa­mil­iar turn­ings, with the ar­row leap­ing up and speed­ing along the cor­rect path­way. But at £495 Ad­vanced Nav­i­ga­tion doesn’t feel like an es­sen­tial op­tion.

Ad­vanced Nav su­per­im­poses ar­rows on the view ahead

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