MBUX (UX is millennial parlance for “user experience”) is, in its crudest form, what we call an infotainment system. Which, in turn, is the stuff that buttons used to do, and now touchscreens sort. So, your sat-nav, ability to make phone calls, choose a song from your smartphone, turn the air-con on, or activate the seat massage function. All that. But, even though most of us are still marvelling at the likes of BMW’s iDrive or Audi’s MMI to perform these functions for us via a large glass surface with no knobs, car brands have moved on, and their infotainment systems are already evolving to the next stage: connected services. Mercedes has now set foot in this brave new world, and it will all be coming to a car near you, very soon.
Already, MBUX, which launched in the A-Class in 2018, and is rolled out as standard with every new model from now on, does some jaw-dropping stuff in the UK market (we’ll come on to what it’s capable of in China in a second). The sat-nav, for example, switches from a map display to a camera view down the road ahead of you as you approach the road you need to take. A blue arrow with the name of the road on it points the way. Or take the picture gallery which displays the songs available on your iPhone and carousels them across the large screen, or the mood-altering settings you can select which alter stuff like the ambient lighting, temperature, massage functions and music to induce feelings of joy, warmth or vitality. And all that is just stuff for while you’re in the car; it’s the basics of the system, which has already evolved.