Last year, we had the opportunity to sample the all-new fourth generation A-Class in the beautiful town of Split, Croatia.
The all-new A-Class certainly lives up to expectations during our time with the car. While the all-new A-Class was the main highlight of the drive, we also got a chance to sample the new Mercedes-Benz User Experience, or MBUX in short.
Designed as a successor the older Comand system, which wasn't that great when compared to BMW's iDrive, MBUX is supposed to allow Mercedes-Benz to leap frog its peers.
As evident from its intuitive UI, Mercedes-Benz took some cues from smartphones and tablets when designing and developing the system. Menus are easy to navigate and everything is laid out in an easy to find manner.
Even navigating through the infotainment system is done with relative ease, as everything is laid out in an logical manner and the touchscreen is responsive to touch inputs. Coupled with the high resolution display, the MBUX system is definitely one of the best infotainment systems I’ve tried to date.
But it isn’t a bed of roses, as the MBUX system does have one major flaw: there is no data connectivity for Malaysia-bound units, unlike the cheaper Proton X70 which has an embedded SIM.
As a result, the Linguatronic feature is limited to in-vehicle commands. For example, when using the navigation system, drivers are limited to the on-board hard drive map resources, not the more updated version from the cloud. In fact, our local A250 units do not get the cool augmented reality navigation system, relying instead on traditional maps. Another bummer is that Linguatronic does not work with the navigation system, and drivers have to rely on manually keying in their destinations.
The lack of cellular connectivity also means that the mobile hotspot feature is also unavailable on the A250, something that the Proton X70 already offers across the range.
Another quirk we noticed during our time with the A250 was that the Linguatronic system would take a while before responding to our commands. The delay is apparently caused by the lack of cellular connectivity, as the system relies on information pulled from the cloud for a more realistic response. So no, you cannot ask MBUX about the weather or topics beyond features in the car as it needs internet connectivity for that.
Granted, it takes time for the Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the car to adapt to the driver, but even after close to two weeks with the A250, we found that at times, the car could not comprehend a simple voice command, such as changing the radio station.
Despite those flaws, the MBUX system does redeem itself thanks to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility as the presence of both systems does a decent job of filling up the gaps in the MBUX system.
Need music? Load up Spotify and stream your favourite tunes. As for navigation, you can utilize either Google Maps or Waze, both of which are excellent options and are kept up-to-date with the latest map data. In fact, if you want to find out about the weather, both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto can answer your query with ease.
As a whole, the MBUX system remains one of the most intuitive and innovative systems we’ve used to date, thanks to the earlier mentioned attributes. Granted, the system would have benefited greatly with cellular data connectivity, though the presence of both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto can help mitigate that.
We are certainly looking forward to the refreshed A-Class, as we understand that cellular data connectivity is earmarked for this subcompact premium hatchback as part of an overall upgrade. With that, we reckon that the overall experience whilst using the MBUX system would most likely be elevated to a whole new level.