Infotainment Battle: Audi MMI vs Mercedes-Benz MBUX — Driving Test

I’m not an old man, I will be turning thirty later this year. However, sometimes I feel positively ancient for the fact that I miss the old days of car interiors. Modern infotainment systems with their myriad of menus and different means of control are just overly complicated and distracting. I miss when the most complicated bit of tech in a car was its radio. Now, automotive infotainment systems are so complex they look like they belong aboard the international space station. Two of the most advanced and high-tech systems on the market are the Audi Touch Response MMI system and Mercedes-Benz MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience).

In this new comparison test from Canada’s Driving, we get to see which of those two systems is best. They’re two very different systems with very different philosophies but they’re also two of the very best on the market. So which one is actually better?

The answer really depends on what you want and what you value in a car’s infotainment system. We’ve used the new Audi Touch Response MMI system quite a lot since it’s debuted and it’s probably the best touchscreen system on the market right now. However, that’s it’s only real method of interaction. It has voice control as well but it’s not nearly as advanced as the voice controls in the MBUX (or even BMW’s new iDrive).

Mercedes-Benz MBUX

However, it’s simpler than the MBUX system. With less control variants and a bit more organization, it’s easier to use than the system in the Mercedes. It also has the best hand-writing recognition in the business, with its entire lower touchscreen acting as the writing pad and superb recognition. Having said that, it also has less functionality.

Mercedes’ MBUX has a steeper learning curve, thanks to its four different means of interaction. You can control it from the little swivel wheel on the center console, little steering wheel touch pads, via touchscreen capability and even with advanced voice commands. That last bit is important.

Like Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa, the MBUX system can be summoned with a specifically call sign. For instance, say “Hey, Mercedes” and it will respond, prompting you to give it a command. Because it’s a cloud-based system, it can search the internet for anything you ask and will receive the answer shortly. It even has natural voice recognition, meaning you want have to offer specific keywords to make it understand you. You can simply say something like “Hey, Mercedes. I’m cold” and it will warm the cabin appropriately.

Audi Touch Response MMI — Audi Q8

In the end, Driving gave he win to the Audi Virtual Cockpit for its more refined controls and superb touchscreen mechanics. But both are very good and show how far we’ve come, in terms of technology.

Nico DeMattia

I've been in love with cars since I was a kid, specifically German cars. Now I get to drive them talk about them on the internet.