MBUX Sound Drive will turn your Mercedes into an interactive concert | CAR Magazine

MBUX Sound Drive will turn your Mercedes into an interactive concert

Published: 10 January 2024 Updated: 10 January 2024

► will.i.am strikes again
► This time it’s a music generation tool that works with MBUX
► Will arrive mid-2024 on second-get systems

Creative soothsayer and music artist will.i.am has once against teamed up with Mercedes to offer up MBUX Sound Drive; an unusual piece of tech that provides a unique soundtrack for every journey. As you’d expect, it was shown at CES earlier this week.

‘At Mercedes-Benz, we want digital innovation to bring a smile to our customers’ faces through exciting new features that make a real difference to every journey,’ said Markus Schäfer, Mercedes CTO. ‘With MBUX Sound Drive, AMG drivers are in control of the way their music sounds. It makes in-car entertainment much more immersive.’

MBUX Sound Drive - interior

What is MBUX Sound Drive? 

Every trip is different, and Sound Drive ensures you have the music to match. Simply put, Sound Drive takes every input and event in the car – whether it’s acceleration, steering angle, braking or even energy recuperation – and combines it all into music. Steer more, accelerate more or brake more, for example, and you’ll find different elements of the music react to your inputs. 

By reacting to how the car is being driven, Mercedes claims there can be a ‘harmonious between motion and melody.’ 

What about the music? 

MBUX Sound Drive - infotainment

The system only works with specially adapted tracks for now, presumably with each channel mapped to a different parameter of the car. For example, braking could change the volume of the drums, steering could change the strength of the vocals and so on. 

‘I’m excited to see how composers, producers, and songwriters will harness this to create new works and reimagine classics for motorist to drive to,’ said will.i.am. ‘MBUX Sound Drive is not only a new frontier for music creation, but also opens up fresh, exciting and interactive listening experiences for drivers.’

Just a handful of tracks are available at the time of writing, but Mercedes hopes more will soon follow will.i.am’s lead. 

Is this happening? 

Yes, this isn’t just a tech demo for CES. Mercedes says Sound Drive will be available on Mercedes-AMG and Mercedes-Benz cars with the second-gen MBUX version from mid-2024. Customers with earlier models may be able to upgrade using an OTA (over-the-air) upgrade if it’s available in their region. 

By Curtis Moldrich

CAR's Digital Editor, F1 and sim-racing enthusiast. Partial to clever tech and sports bikes