|This article does not cite any references or sources. (December 2009)|
Cockpit Management and Data system - COMAND for short - acts as a combined command and control centre for all audio, telematics and telecommunications functions on Mercedes-Benz vehicles and includes a dedicated flat display screen. In addition to the GPS navigation system and general processing and control logic, COMAND includes components such as an address book, telephone, radio and in many cases a CD/DVD drive. It is connected to other (often separate) devices such as CD/DVD changers, sound system and surround sound amplifier, TV receiver and the optional Linguatronic voice control system via an optical fibre network. The first generations of COMAND used the D2B optical network standard whereas later models are based on MOST.
A key feature of all COMAND systems is to provide deep integration between the various functions such as multimedia, navigation and telephony and to also allow multiple presentation and control facilities. An example of functional integration is where other audio sources can be muted when a phone call comes in or when navigation guidance is being given. It is also the case that the main audio system, speakers and microphone are used for all these functions instead of being logically and functionally separate. With regard to multiple presentation and control facilities, COMAND based vehicles allow steering wheel controls to be used alongside the main COMAND buttons and controller and COMAND related status information and instructions can be displayed in the instrument cluster in addition to the main COMAND display. On vehicles with a factory fitted Mercedes-Benz rear seat entertainment system, this also provides integration with the COMAND system, allowing for instance the rear seat displays to show content from the COMAND TV receiver or to play out the rear DVD audio over the car's surround sound system.
On newer S-Class and CL-Class models such as the W221, the integration between COMAND and other vehicle functions is even more complete, including access via COMAND to the HVAC system, seat controls, etc. On these cars, in contrast to most other Mercedes-Benz vehicles, COMAND is part of the standard specification rather than an optional extra.
Somewhat confusingly, COMAND 2.5 (not to be confused with the much later COMAND-APS NTG2.5) actually refers to the first generation of COMAND systems, introduced on the W220. The "2.5" label seems to refer to the fact that the main COMAND unit for this first generation had a height of 2.5 DIN. This COMAND system had a cassette drive, a build-in CD drive for the navigation map discs, an FM/AM radio tuner, a 4-channel amplifier and external connectors to other systems. The European models used Tele Atlas map discs (CD). Towards the end of 1999, the system was upgraded to use the improved DX type navigation discs. COMAND 2.5 uses a D2B optical bus for connection to the external CD changer, the telephone system, the optional Bose surround sound system and the optional Linguatronic voice control system. The COMAND 2.5 unit was made by Bosch.
COMAND 2.5 was an option on almost all models and denoted by Mercedes-Benz option code 352.
COMAND 2.0/COMAND 2.0 MOPF
The same COMAND 2.5 technology (with DX navigation maps) was next incorporated in a somewhat different form factor known as COMAND 2.0 (with "2.0" referring to the fact that this modified unit had a 2 DIN height), but with the cassette drive removed. These units were introduced on the W210 E-Class as rectangular units, later also in a more rounded form on amongst others the W203 and R230 models.
From S-Class model year 2003, COMAND 2.5 was replaced by a widescreen version of COMAND 2.0 known as COMAND 2.0 MOPF.
Note that COMAND 2.5, COMAND 2.0 and COMAND 2.0 MOPF are collectively referred to as "COMAND 2" systems (despite these being the first generation COMAND systems and, confusingly, despite the successor being known as COMAND-APS NTG1.
This new generation of COMAND systems was introduced on the model year 2002 W211 E-class and is in fact a complete redesign. MOST replaces the D2B optical ring network. The Mercedes-Benz option code became 527 (although, confusingly, COMAND 2.0 MOPF was also given this option code). These new MOST based systems were given the name COMAND-APS to distinguish them from the older D2B systems.
The NTG1 system further distinguished itself from earlier models by having DVD based navigation instead of the CD based COMAND 2. This allowed to carry a whole region (such as Europe) on a single disc. NTG1 systems were also able to play MP3 CDs/DVDs.
The NTG2 evolution was a cheaper and more integrated version of COMAND-APS, having all core components in the single double DIN head unit instead of three separate components as had been the case with NTG1 (an audio gateway including the radio, amplifier and MOST controller; a head unit with display and a navigation processor) and thereby also simplifying the wiring. However, unlike NTG1 models, the NTG2 COMAND was unable to play MP3 discs. To use the navigation at the same time as listening to an audio disc requires the optional CD changer.
Intended for the flagship W221 S-Class and the W216 CL-Class, COMAND NTG3 is a high-end system. Unlike for most other Mercedes-Benz cars, the S-Class and CL-Class from now on have COMAND as standard, allowing even better integration and for COMAND to operate even more vehicle functions. The navigation maps are stored on an internal hard disk instead of a DVD disc (although updates are installed from an update DVD). In addition to operating the audio, video, navigation and telecommunication systems, the NTG3 COMAND also controls a host of other features, such as the multi-contour and drive-dynamic seats, the HVAC system, the rear window shade, the vehicle locking, alarm and immobiliser, interior and exterior lighting functions, the optional ambient lighting feature, easy entry/exit settings, etc.
The NTG3 system comes with a large, high resolution 8" TFT 16:9 widescreen colour COMAND display mounted higher and more directly into the driver's line of sight and with a separate, large rotary controller mounted on the centre console in between the front seats. This system was the first COMAND to support DAB radio on the MOST bus.
NTG3 uses an in-dash DVD (and CD) changer and CompactFlash reader for MP3 music. A digital TV tuner and a harman/kardon Logic7 stereo sound system with 14 speakers and a 600W 13-channel DSP amplifier can be optionally installed and controlled via COMAND. Where a factory fitted rear seat entertainment package is installed, this can use the NTG3 digital TV tuner and the surround sound system for playing out its audio over the speakers instead of headphones. As with previous models, Linguatronic voice command and control is available as an option too.
The main controller for NTG3 is a large rotary dial with haptic feedback, although there are also buttons for quick access to commonly used functions and even a "favourite" button that can be assigned a function of choice. In addition, buttons on the steering wheel give access to various COMAND functions too and the large screen in the instrument cluster can display various COMAND related settings and information in addition to the main COMAND display.
The model year 2009 W221 S-Class received an upgraded version, COMAND-APS 3.5 NTG. This includes improved Bluetooth support and split view (where the passenger watches a DVD while the driver sees other COMAND functions such as the navigation map on the same display). The new NTG3.5 system also features a new rights management provision to prevent the use of copied map update discs. This rights management function means it is not possible to upgrade NTG3 based vehicles to NTG3.5.
The NTG4 system is a reduced cost version of NTG3 technology. It was first introduced when the W204 C-Class launched in 2007 and features a 5" screen, much smaller than the higher resolution, bigger 8" screen on the flagship W221. It is the first version of COMAND that supports the Mercedes Media Interface. Like NTG3, it stores maps on a hard disk and has a card reader for MP3 music. It is also build with a somewhat larger 6" screen for other models such as the W212 and W218. Amongst other implementation differences are the fact that in the W204 version the screen electrically folds in and out whereas in other incarnations it is fixed. The Mercedes SLS has COMAND NTG4 too.
Unlike the NTG3 system, NTG4 does not support 7 character UK postcodes (only 5 character postcodes).
Somewhat confusingly, COMAND-APS NTG2.5 was introduced after NTG4, replacing COMAND in models previously fitted with NTG1 and NTG2 systems (apart from the W209 CLK as that model was replaced by the W207 E-Class coupe. The unit has a SD card reader in addition to the DVD drive. An optional DVD changer can replace the single drive. The Mercedes-Benz option code is 512 for the single drive unit and 527 for the unit with the optional DVD changer. Like NTG4 models, it supports the Media Interface.
In late 2011, Mercedes starting fitting the new COMAND-APS NTG4.5 to its W204 cars, and then to other models such as the W212, W207 and R172 SLK. It thus became the latest generation of COMAND for its non-flagship cars (i.e. cars other than the S-Class and CL-Class). It is also referred to as COMAND Online as it can use the mobile broadband connection on the telephone to connect to Mercedes-Benz Internet based services. It allows the running of various downloadable apps (such as Facebook) in the COMAND system. It uses a 7" colour display.
Again, Media Interface is supported and maps are stored on a hard disk and restricted, as with NTG3.5, by a PIN based rights management protection feature. Like NTG3/3.5 it also has a separate rotary controller (although smaller than for NTG3/3.5 based vehicles).