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Created: 3 Jan 2009

Last Updated: 22 Sep 2013

Mercedes iPhone and iPod solutions for pre Model Year 2009 cars.

I have recently regularly been asked how to integrate the iPhone with Mercedes benz cars.

This document covers most current models including the new Model Year 09 cars.

1.  iPod functions: 

With the exception of the W204 C class with Audio-20 (which can have the UMI) and Model Year 2009 onward cars (which can have the Media Interface (formerly known as UCI)), the iPod integration is somewhat of an after thought - which is not surprising as the audio technology was designed before year 2000.

Standard iPod kit: The official Mercdes iPod kits when installed are controlled via the steering wheel controls and the instrument cluster display - the audio unit is just put in to AUX mode.  The R230 SL, W215 CL and last W220 S class, W211 E and W219 CLS with Audio-20 or Audio-50 (COMAND is fine) do not have an AUX input on the audio head unit and thus can not support the iPod kit at all.  (NB Model Year 2009 E/CLS do have an AUX)

The Mercedes iPod kits are only available for cars with the newer (MOST based) audio systems which were introduced in 2004 - cars with the MOST based audio systems either have the COMAND system with the DVD of Europe (rather than a CD based 1-2 country disk) or inbuilt hard disk, or a double height Audio unit called the Audio-20-CD with a phone keypad on it. As mentioned previously, the SL, the last generation S/CL (W220/W215) and the W211 E / W219 CLS cars with Audio20/Audio50 before Model Year 2009 do not support Mercedes iPod kits at all.  Sadly Mercedes have discontinued supply (in late 2012) for the R171 SLK iPod kit and the W221/W216 (S/CL) iPod kits.

iPod Video kits are available for cars with COMAND that are post Model Year 2009, and all W204 C class with COMAND.

UMI or Navigation 20: The UMI (Universal Media Interface) (now known as Navigation 20) for the W204 C, W207 E-Convertible and W212 new E class is an integrated navigation system, USB card reader and iPod interface - thus there is proper control of the iPod from the Audio-20 system. The UMI/Nav-20 can not be used with COMAND, and thus you have to use the standard iPod kit and control the system from the steering wheel controls or have Media Interface.

Media Interface: The Media Interface / UCI is a proper integrated media kit,  it is only orderable as a factory fit option and is available for MY2009 onward vehicles and almost all W204 C class vehicles.  It is by far the best solution if you have a new enough vehicle, and retrofit kits are now available from Comand Online. Car's need to have at-least the Audio-20 with CD-Changer in order to be able to support Media Interface, and specialists like www.comand.co.uk and supply and fit this for you. An additional device called the Media Interface Plus connects to this and supports Video iPod, Pandora Music and speaks Text messages! More info/available from <here>.

It is also worth remembering that Apple changed the charging voltage for the iPhone 3G and other iPods when the Nano Chromatic was released. This means older Mercedes iPod kits, and Mercedes iPod kits for older cars (W211 E/W219 CLS/R171 SLK/pre MY2010 W221/pre MY2010 W216) do not charge the latest iPods and iPhone 3G. The newest version of the iPod kit for A/B/CLC/ML/GL/R do charge the latest devices.

Mercedes have released two solutions to assist owners with older iPod kits, (a) a replacement charging lead for the kit (available <here>) and an adapter that plugs onto the existing lead which is available <here>.

2. iPhone phone functions

There are a number of methods to connect the iPhone to the integrated phone system (which in itself is optional in Mercedes vehicles).

If you have the integrated phone system, you will have a connector like this: -

UHI phone connector

in the centre glovebox or possibly on a phone console next to the stereo. The above picture is that from a W164 pre Model Year 2008 vehicle. The connector may well have a plastic cover over it like this :-

UHI connector with cov er

- the cover just pulls off.

You then plug an appropriate phone cradle into the socket.

You have 3 options of phone cradles.

1) Mercedes HFP cradle, this is a genuine Mercedes product which works using bluetooth with many phone systems. However, it doesnt work with some phones, and noticeably it did not work with iPhone software Version 2, before Version 2.2 and with iPhone iOS4.0 - it works fine with current iPhone software.

Mercedes HFP picture

It can be purchased from your local Mercedes dealer or from Comand Online HFP2 adapter.

2) The Viseeo MB-4  (replaced the ViseeO MBU-2000 in 2012) adapter, this is a competitor product, which has many advantages over the HFP cradle, the sound quality is better, it works with the pre MY2005 cars, and most important is that the software in the cradle can be upgraded, and thus when iPhone software V2 was released, Viseeo released a software update to make the product function properly

ViseeO MBU-2000 picture

It can be purchased from Comand Online Visseo MB-4 adapter.

3) Mercedes iPhone cradle / iPhone 3G&3GS / iPhone 4/4S cradles.  The different cradles are genuine Mercedes devices, they have the advantage that they charges the iPhone, and with the 3G/3GS and iPhone 4/S cradles  the iPhone does not have to be plugged into the cradle for it to work at all - as it does use bluetooth. It also has an inductive antenna, so that you get better signal because the car's external antenna is used to improve reception. Versions are available with an audio output to connect to the Mercedes iPod kit or Media Interface using a special lead. The connector for the special lead is somewhat ugly and hangs off the side of the Mercedes iPhone cradle (see picture below).

The iPhone / iPhone 3G&3GS / iPhone 4/S cradles are quite wide, and thus it will not fit in the A or B class little drawer in the centre console, and of course if it is in on a phone console next to the stereo then there is the black iPod connector lead which will be visible unless you purchase the cable-less version. It is tight, but does fit, on some models such as the CLS.

There is an iPhone 3G cradle without the lead available (that will fit in the A/B class) but that can not be connected to the iPod or MI solutions.

These cradles are available from Comand Online Ltd:-
 iPhone 3G/3GS with no audio cable.
 iPhone 3G/3GS with audio cable.
 iPhone 4/4S with no audio cable.
 iPhone 4/4S with audio cable.

 

The iPhone cradles do charge the iPhone and iPhone 3G/3GS and iPhone 4 - whereas many Mercedes iPod kits will not charge the iPhone 3G/3GS/4.

 Mercedes iPhone phone cradle picture

3. Integrating the music and phone functions

If your car has the phone connector in the centre glovebox, and not in a seperate upper section in that centre glovebox, then if you install an iPod kit or Media Interface and the Mercedes iPhone cradle, then you can connect the two devices together using a special lead.

These are available to purchase here: -
iPhone cradle to iPod kit lead (for type 1 iPod kits (those that dont charge iPhone)
iPhone cradle to iPod kit lead (for type 2 iPod kits that do charge iPhone)
iPhone cradle to Media Interface lead

Do remember that if you use an iPhone, and you have the iPhone phone cradle, and you want to use the iPod kit for the music on the iPhone then you do need to install this special cradle.

My general experience is in fact that people end up not connecting the iPhone to the iPod kit, as they often have an older ipod that they just leave in the glovebox connected to the car's iPod kit.

4. Summary

If you want to have a fixed cradle for the iPhone which charges it, then you need the Mercedes iPhone cradle. This has some restrictions though, (1) it doesnt fit in some cars (2) the phone must be plugged into the cradle to use the phone functionality (3) if you want to use it with the car's iPod kit, then you need an interconnecting cable but its hard/impossible to fit if your car has an separate upper compartment for the phone in the centre armrest.  The CLS and model year 2008 onward cars seem to have a single compartment centre armrest and thus installation of the extra cable is not too difficult.

If you want the iPhone to work in your pocket, then you need a HFP or MBU-2000 cradle, I have a preference for the MBU-2000 cradle as when the next great phone comes along it will likely work or can be software upgraded. If you have an iPod kit, you can always plug your iPhone into the iPod kit and it will still bluetooth to the HFP/MBU-2000 for phone functionality.

Because Apple changed the charging voltage for the iPhone 3G and the Nano chromatic and other iPods released at the same time, many Mercedes iPod kits will not charge the newest iPods. Mercedes is meant to be releasing a solution for that issue. The various iPhone cradles do charge the iPhone and the iPhone 3G.

5. Where can I purchase these devices ?

All these devices are available from Comand Online - iPod systems.

With the exception of the MBU-2000, they are also available from your local Mercedes dealer.

V1.4 6th May 2009

V1.5 13th December 2012


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