The Mercedes-Benz User Experience, or MBUX for short, has had a wobbly reception. It’s Mercedes’ newest infotainment setup and is packed to bursting with a ton of features and pizazz, but it’s slightly more convoluted than competing systems from other luxury automakers. (Many of which, we should point out, have plenty of infotainment issues of their own—we’re looking at you, Lexus, and your little touchpad thingie.) But, for now, let’s set aside us calling MBUX infuriating and take a peek at the new version of the already-new MBUX that’s debuting in the 2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class flagship sedan.
Tailored specifically for the upcoming S-Class, this new-new MBUX version displays on a massive central screen, as revealed by spy photos floating around the internet. The center stack looks vaguely reminiscent of the large infotainment display that rests between the front seats on a Tesla Model S, in that it’s oriented more vertically than MBUX displays in other recent Benzes. Yet, where the Model S has just two displays—the center stack tablet and the digital gauge cluster—Mercedes says it’s taking things a little bit further than that on the S-Class.
How? According to Stuttgart, the new S-Class will have up to five screens for the driver and their passengers to view and manipulate. There will be the expected digital gauge cluster facing the driver, the very large panel that splits the driver and passenger up front, one mounted on each of the front seatbacks, and yet another one shoehorned between the back-seat passengers. That is a lot of backlit real estate on which to display information, and the various screens are responsible climate controls, moving the position of the seats, allowing in-car purchases, delivering presentations, and airing movies, among the typical entertainment and in-car control functions you’d expect, neatly kicking things past the current state of MBUX art (at least capability-wise). Fingerprint readers will be used to ensure the highest levels of security when it comes to accessing personal information onboard.
One of the stand-out features that’s making its debut in the new S-Class? An augmented-reality head-up display. While augmented reality (AR) usually requires a device that acts as the display for the simulated content, Mercedes has integrated the effect into the S-Class’s head-up display using clever three-dimension-mimicking animations, which float into the driver’s field of view like “objects” ahead of the car. If you are wondering how useful this might be, fret not—Mercedes claims its augmented-reality head-up display spans an enormous 77 inches of the windshield, although isn’t clear if that’s how large the display appears to the driver or an actual dimension. Either way—yes, this counts as yet another screen.
The S-Class’s MBUX also gets other upgrades, such as enhanced voice recognition that will support up to 27 languages, smart home integration (so you can lock your smartlock-equipped doors or turn on your A/C at home from your car), and new safety features that are all made possible by monitoring the driver and passenger and their gestures. Creepy, sort of.
The S-Class has always been a technical tour-de-force, and traditionally it has debuted Mercedes-Benz’s latest and greatest safety and convenience tech. The new-for-2021 model looks to keep that flame alive, upping the ante yet again and advancing the state of Mercedes-Benz’s art. One thing’s for sure, it’ll have a Best Buy’s worth of screens.