Mercedes' new touchscreen controls eliminate 27 physical buttons

The second-gen MBUX infotainment system will arrive in the 2021 S-Class.


Today, Mercedes’ revealed its second-generation MBUX infotainment system. When it arrives in the 2021 S-Class luxury sedan, the new MBUX system will replace 27 physical hardware buttons with touchscreen controls, add new voice, hand gesture and gaze controls and offer additional safety features.

Every S-Class sedan will come with a 12.8-inch OLED screen with haptic feedback, and customers will have the option of adding up to three additional screens for backseat passengers. The instrument display will get new AR capabilities, and thanks to the auto-stereoscopic display, the instruments will look 3D, even without 3D glasses.

You won’t need to say “Hey Mercedes” before certain actions, like accepting a call, and the voice assistant will take on new capabilities, like instructing passengers on how to connect a smartphone via Bluetooth. “Hey Mercedes” now works in 27 languages and recognizes up to 20 voice commands.

Mercedes' second-gen MBUX system

Users can set personal preferences for radio stations and seat position via their Mercedes me profile, and they’ll be able to access those settings or make digital payments from the vehicle with fingerprint, face and voice recognition, as well as QR codes. All of these features will be based around the touchscreen displays.

Sensors will predict when an occupant is about to exit the car, and if the vehicle’s cameras detect another “road user” approaching a blind spot, the ambient lighting will flash red. The MBUX system can also determine if a child seat is correctly attached to the front passenger seat, and if the driver is showing signs of drowsiness. In that case, MBUX will warn the driver, and if a passenger says “I’m tired,” MBUX will activate “energizing comfort control.”

The changes are clearly driven by a larger touchscreen infotainment trend. We’ve seen large displays in Teslas, of course, and in vehicles like Subaru’s 2020 Outback. But we also called the first-generation MBUX the best infotainment system out there. We can expect good things out of the second-generation system, as long as removing so many physical controls doesn’t become too distracting.