by Adrian-Liviu Dorofte

The new Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class: Multimedia Systems and Production

XIII. Multimedia systems: A fresh look, more convenient operation, new functionalities

The latest multimedia generation deployed in the CLA boasts new functions, additional apps and a modified graphic colour scheme. The coupé is equipped as standard with the Audio 20 CD system, which features among other things a twin tuner and an MP3-capable CD player.

Daimler's Digital Drive Style app concept, which together with the Drive Kit Plus for the iPhone® enables seamless integration of the iPhone® into the vehicle, has been extended. The highlights include Siri voice control and Glympse real-time location sharing. Glympse enables the user to share his or her current location with selected persons. Other functions are Facebook®, Twitter®, internet radio, AUPEO!™ Personal Radio and the advanced navigation solution from Garmin® with web-based real-time traffic information, online special destination search including Street View™ and 3D map display.

Overview of other multimedia systems

The COMAND Online multimedia system has also been extended to incorporate additional functions. The latest generation offers improved, photo-realistic map display, an additional Bluetooth profile (to enable the internet to be accessed by iPhone®, for example), the display of images additionally in bmp and png formats and the real-time transfer of traffic data.

COMAND Online offers internet access. Customers can either surf the web as they wish while the car is stationary or call up a Mercedes-Benz app whose particularly fast page loading and simple operation make it suitable for use while driving. Integrated apps include Google™ Local Search and Weather and the facility for downloading a route which has previously been configured on a PC using Google Maps and transmitted to the car. In addition, apps for Google™ Streetview and Google™ Panoramio are available for COMAND Online. Streetview enables locations all over the world to be seen in 360-degree perspective views and at street level. Panoramio allows access to millions of photographs which have been taken and uploaded by other uses at locations all around the globe. Streetview and Panoramio thus provide comprehensive means of studying routes and checking out sights and destinations before embarking on a journey. With the "News" app, news on politics, finance and technology can be called up online in the vehicle. Information is displayed in such a way that it is particularly easy to read. Further apps, such as stock market news or a parking space finder, can be also be accessed via the Mercedes online shop (

The high-resolution colour display has a diagonal of 17.8 cm. The basic colour scheme of the central display is silver grey. Photos can be shown on the large screen and scrolled through manually, as in a slide show. Where the audio equipment is concerned, too, new types of representation bring a fresh look and more convenient operation. The new cover flow function, for instance, sorts the title images of the music albums stored in a carousel-like form, so that the CLA-Class driver can easily leaf through their music collection – even if it is rather on the large side: the memory for compressed audio files (mp3, wma and aac formats) is now 10 GB in size.

Greatest convenience is afforded by the Music Search function, which enables drivers and passengers to search the hard disc, SD memory cards, USB sticks, CDs and DVDs for specific music tracks and artists. The search can be according to various criteria, for instance album, music category or composer. If a name needs to be entered, the software will also tolerate spelling mistakes. The driver is therefore able to devote their full attention to the traffic. As a further advantage, the occupants are able to search all the connected media and devices simultaneously.

The fast hard-disc navigation system of COMAND Online also has added functions. New features include a 3D display with three-dimensional city views. Also new: routes covered can be recorded and repeated later, specific personal destinations can be imported via an SD card and four alternative routes can be displayed on the navigation map, one of them a particularly economical variation. Mercedes-Benz customers in Europe receive the current cards for their COMAND Online multimedia system free of charge for three years. Authorised Mercedes-Benz dealers upload the updates for navigation data in 39 European countries into the navigation system when the customer visits their premises.

In Europe, COMAND Online also comprises Speed Limit Assist, which receives its information for traffic sign recognition via a camera and navigation database. COMAND Online also includes the LINGUATRONIC voice-operated control system for audio, telephone and navigation. The new "one shot" input function for the navigation system is particularly convenient, whereby the place and road can be spoken directly after one another. This function is currently available in seven languages and significantly enhances ease of operation. With COMAND Online and LINGUATRONIC, music can also be conveniently searched for in the CLA-Class via voice control. The system first asks in which category it should conduct the search (artist, title, year). The category is selected by saying it or by saying the row number of the relevant category which appears on the screen. This is then followed by further questions about title, artist or album.

The standard specification includes the Audio 20 CD system. It features a twin tuner, mp3-capable CD player and a USB connector in the centre console. The colour display has a diagonal of 14.7 cm. Thanks to a "cover art" function, the title images of the music albums currently being played are shown if their details are stored in the audio file.

A top line in the Audio 20 CD’s menu navigation makes orientation easier and can be operated via the controller. The settings for the air conditioning are also displayed on the telematics screen (when in use), as is the fuel consumption over the past 15 minutes. Bluetooth® functions have also been extended: the mobile’s phone book can now be automatically transferred en bloc when connected, and wireless music reproduction is possible from Bluetooth-capable terminals. Plus text messages can also be displayed. As an optional extra the Audio 20 CD can be combined with a 6-disc CD changer, Media Interface, harman/kardon® sound system, Convenience Telephony in the armrest, digital radio (DAB) and the new Becker® MAP PILOT entry-level navigation solution.

The Becker® MAP PILOT makes a low-cost navigation function, which can also be retrofitted, available for the entry-level Audio 20 CD radio. Its advantages over aftermarket solutions include integrated operation via the central controls, voice output via the vehicle's loudspeakers, display on the Audio 20 screen, a concealed location in the glove compartment and updating via an internet portal.

Mercedes-Benz developed the "Logic7®" surround sound system together with audio specialists harman/kardon®. Based on technology never before seen in a car, this high-end system delivers three-dimensional sound as a natural 360-degree musical experience for all passengers. The audio signals are distributed via a 450-watt multi-channel DSP amplifier connected to twelve high-performance loudspeakers. In conjunction with COMAND Online a multichannel listening experience with Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS is possible.

The Media Interface is available as an optional extra. The universal interface enables mobile audio devices such as an mp3 player or iPod® to be connected to the vehicle's telematics system. These devices are then operated via the head unit, the central control unit or the steering wheel buttons. By making use of USB 2.0, the new generation of the Media Interface provides quicker display and an expanded data selection.

XIV. Production: A new car from a new factory

The Mercedes-Benz CLA is the first car to be built exclusively at the new production facilities in Kecskemét, Hungary. The factory was inaugurated in the spring of 2012, and production of the CLA started in January 2013.

On the occasion of the start of production Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars said: "You are doing a great job at the plant here." Before the start of production of the CLA-Class over 40,000 B-Class vehicles rolled off the assembly line at the Hungarian production facilities, helping to make 2012 the best sales year for the B-Class so far (sales worldwide: 145,649 units, over 11 percent more than the previous record year of 2006). Plant manager Frank Klein added: "The plant's entire team can't wait to get the CLA to our customers as perfectly as the B-Class cars we build in Kecskemét."

The Kecskemét plant and the Rastatt plant together form the production network for the new generation of Mercedes-Benz compact cars. That network significantly contributes to the overall economies of compact car production and allows the flexible and optimum management of the capacity utilisation of both plants. The Kecskemét plant was opened in March 2012, less than four years after the initial decision was made in the summer of 2008 in favour of the location. It has since produced the B-Class, which is also built in Rastatt, using state-of-the-art, environmentally sound technology. Since its inauguration, the number of staff has grown from about 2,500 to more than 3,000, in line with the further development of the plant and the preparations for production of the CLA. The plant is the most attractive employer in the region, not least due to the high attention given to the qualification of its employees. The pioneering efforts of the plant and its Hungarian partners to establish dual vocational and university education based on the German model further contribute to this. In 2012 Daimler AG and the Hungarian Government also signed a joint partnership agreement to establish and reinforce the region of Kecskemét as a centre of the Hungarian automobile industry on a long-term basis.

Credits: Daimler AG

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