For years, it’s been BMW’s iDrive that led the industry, in terms of quality, technology and ease of use. Of all the infotainment systems on the market, it seemed as if BMW’s iDrive was just a few notches higher than every other system, including the systems in brands like Mercedes-Benz and Audi. However, in the past year or so, BMW’s Stuttgart-based rival, Mercedes, has been putting out some very impressive tech and its latest system, the “My MBUX” (Mercedes-Benz User Interface), debuting in the next-gen S-Class, could set the new standard.
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The new MBUX system in the Mercedes-Benz S-Class ditches the old mouse-shaped touchpad and buttons and instead replaces the entire setup with a massive 12.8″ OLED touchscreen, a la Tesla. However, unlike Tesla’s screen, the MBUX’s new layout and user interface actually seems to make sense.
In a car, having a tablet like touchscreen only makes sense if the menus and layout are intuitive for actually driving a car. If you have to dig through endless sub-menus to get to anything, it’s only going to confuse, frustrate and distract the driver. In the new S-Class, the MBUX system has big, easy to press icons with crystal clear graphics and a very high resolution. It also features what seems to be a permanent graphic bar at the bottom of the screen, which houses the climate controls, a home button, a back button and some track buttons. All of which seem incredibly intuitive and easy to use, even while driving.
Additionally, the new MBUX system will feature an impressive new voice recognition system, with better natural voice understanding and more voice commands than ever before. It also can house multiple different profiles, which can have different personal data stored. That data is safe, though, as the MBUX has a different bio-metric security systems in place, such as face recognition and fingerprint scanner.
Rear passengers can join in on the fun, too. Not only can they control the main MBUX system but the front passengers can “throw” screens back to the rear passengers’ screens (if so equipped). Rear passengers can also use voice recognition to command the car.
Most impressive of all, though, is the new 3D digital gauge cluster and augmented reality head-up display. The new digital gauges use an auto-stereoscopic display that actually gives it a 3D affect without the need for 3D glasses. It shows the left and right eyes different pixels to give the driver the impression that it’s three-dimensional. A camera also monitors the driver’s eye position and adjusted accordingly.
The augmented reality is the most impressive of all, though. It uses a digital mirror device (DMD) developed by Texas Instruments to create and image on the windshield that looks as if it’s 10 meters (33 ft) away and can display anything from navigation info to media info. It’s very impressive stuff, if we’re honest.
There will still be BMW fans that prefer this current iDrive, as it also has physical redundant buttons. However, there may be evidence showing BMW moving to an entirely touchscreen setup as well. Until then, though, we’ll only be able to compare this new MBUX system with the current iDrive. As far as functionality and technology, this MBUX system seems above the rest of the segment by a good margin, just judging by what it can do, if you include the new digital gauges and augmented reality.
We obviously haven’t tested it yet, as the S-Class has yet to be fully revealed, but we’re anxious to, to see how well the competition is getting on. Hopefully, it is a step above iDrive, so that a new bar is set and BMW and Audi try and out-do the S-Class. That will only make tech better and better for consumers.