BMW iDrive vs Mercedes MBUX vs Audi Connect< Back to blog
Read on to discover which one of these premium in-car media setups is right for you.
BMW’s iDrive system made its world premiere in 2001, debuting with the BMW 7 Series (E65). It has since developed to become one of the most cherished infotainment systems in the automobile market.
Much of iDrive’s appeal is down to its ease of use. A scroll wheel control which the manufacturer began with has stood the test of time, with recent updates adding more modern features such as handwriting recognition function, among other things.
The BMW 5 Series Touring is the prime example of how far the iDrive system has come since the early noughties. It features a voice command option which is easily activated my pressing an integrated button on the steering wheel. You can then tell your car to do everything from setting up a route on maps to changing the radio station. All this without having to take your eyes off the road.
The iDrive’s navigation has a nice touch of BMW-personalised features too, such as ConnectedDrive Online. This allows for live traffic updates to be communicated to the car’s satnav. The satnav also allows important information to be displayed on any waypoints set, such as fuel costs on different petrol stations.
Of course, not everything is perfect with BMW’s in-car computer system.
For starters, you won’t be able to mirror your phone onto your new Bimmer’s display if you’re an Android user. Unfortunately only Apple CarPlay is compatible with the technology, for now.
In December 2019 BMW announced that it will be introducing the wireless connectivity to all its new vehicles which have version 7.0 of iDrive and ‘Live Professional Cockpit’ installed. As it stands, this will include the latest range of 3 Series, 5 Series, 7 Series and 8 Series. If you’re gearing more towards family SUVs, you’ll be glad to know that the X3, X5, X6 and X7 will be introduced to this tech. The only downfall is that its wireless functionality means that it’s limited to those of you with Pixel, Nexus and Samsung smartphones.
Generally speaking, the user experience of iDrive isn’t a match for Google and Apple’s offering. These tech giants have much better experience in developing interfaces which are easy to use. This is why smartphones are a popular choice for entertainment on the go, with apps like Spotify making all your music and podcasts accessible while you’re on the move.
Short for ‘Mercedes-Benz User Experience’, MBUX is a much later invention compared to its BMW and Audi rivals. It premiered at the January 2018 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Mercedes’ MBUX system is currently available on the latest range of Mercedes-Benz A-Class models, and the new CLA Coupé. It’s fashionable lateness means you’re limited in terms of options compared to its rivals. But MBUX is worth the wait thanks to its connectivity advantage.
The system uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to make voice recognition the go-to control for the infotainment system. This can be activated simply by saying, ‘Hey, Mercedes’. It’s then programmed to update its language data settings to recognise natural speech. So, you needn’t worry about sounding like a robot in order to be understood!
Visually, MBUX is stunning. Thanks to dual widescreen displays – one on the dash and the other behind the steering wheel. The graphics of which are some of the highest resolutions you will find on the market. And it certainly looks futuristic.
It’s certainly the most interactive system out of the three. The conrol options seem endless, with touchscreen, a touchpad on the centre console, or touch controls on the steering wheel available. Or talk to your pride and joy.
The home screen itself is rather more complex than one might like, especially when compared to the BMW iDrive system. Not every function is there on the screen, so scrolling through can be a nightmare with lots of menus leading into sub menus.
Perhaps the most difficult thing to understand about MBUX is that it’s not available on the German manufacturer’s most expensive models. You could spend upwards of £74,000 on a brand-new S-Class but still be met by the frustratingly outdated Comand Online system. Its plethora of menus and detailed settings are simply not as slick and pale in comparison.
The good news is that you’ll still have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to fall back on if you’re not opting for one of the brand’s more compact models.
Last on the list is the Audi Connect infotainment software. Unfortunately, it doesn’t feel as modern or as easy to use as its Mercedes or BMW rivals. But it does have convenience going for it.
For those looking for car entertainment that’s simply easy to navigate around and doesn’t have overly technical features, Audi Connect is likely to be the option for you.
On the home screen you’re faced with all the menus you will need: phone, maps, radio, and car information. The ease of this can’t be underestimated.
Controlled through a scroll wheel, the list of home menus also includes Audi-specific features such as ‘city events’ and ‘parking information’. Depending on your location, this allows you to see where the nearest parking is available to you. Any events happening nearby will crop up too – a very handy feature when driving in towns.
The satnav is on a par with MBUX, albeit without looking as flash. Google Maps and ‘street view’ give you a live view of the road ahead while you drive. It’s an improvement on the rather dated BMW satnav. Connect also pips its rivals thanks to the smartphone interface. Both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard. An ideal option compared to other, rather archaic-looking interfaces.
The biggest bugbear of Audi Connect is the scroll wheel, which isn’t as intuitive as BMW’s. Neither does it offer the same amount of flexibility of control when you consider Mercedes’ MBUX system.
While its simple design could appeal to those of you looking for functionality, it does look rather outdated in comparison to Mercedes’ offering.
Interested in a model with one of these systems? You can find a price which suits your monthly budget with our latest BMW, Audi and Mercedes special offers.
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