A customer e-mailed me last week to ask if the iPhone cradle they saw on Ebay would work in their car. Even though I had written about this part when Mercedes announced it I had never actually used one. I had my parts department order one for me and was able to test it today.
This cradle is designed to plug into the MHI port in most 2007-2008 vehicles and the 2009 S and CL. Any car that would use a bluetooth adaptor, what I call a “puck,” could use this cradle. This cradle is NOT compatible with the 3G iPhone. The 3G iPhone is too wide to fit into the cradle. There is a rumor of a 3G version but it doesn’t seem to be avaliable in the US yet. So, you plug the cradle into the car, synch the bluetooth and you now have a bluetooth adaptor that will also charge your iPhone as opposed to the normal puck that does not charge your iPhone. That seems to be the main benefit.
The instruction booklet also states that “If your vehicle is equipped with an iPod Integration Kit, it is possible to access the iPod functions of the iPhone in the cradle via the COMAND system…after an additional connection between the cradle and the iPod Integration Kit has been installed. A competent installation by a qualified specialist workshop must be performed for the connection of the iPhone Cradle to the iPod Interface Kit.” What that means is that you can’t just plug it in and start using it as both the phone and the iPod. You would have to take it out of the cradle and plug it into the kit to play music unless you pay the labor (and parts?) at the shop for them to re-wire it.
Also, I thought the plug on the side of the cradle (show above on the left) looked familiar. It is the same plug that the Multimedia Interface Cable or iPod/MP3 Adaptor Cable uses to plug into 2009 vehicles with the NTG 2.5 COMAND system (2009 ML, GL, R, E, SL, SLK). If you unplug the Multimedia Interface Cable and plug in the iPhone cradle you can access the iPod functionality of the iPhone and stay connected via bluetooth (shown below). This is not an improvement. You can already plug the iPhone directly into the Multimedia Interface Cable and do the same thing. The instruction booklet makes no mention of this extra cord on the side. Strange.
So, in summary… You cannot use this accessory with the 3G iPhone. You cannot use it with a 2008 or 2009 C-Class (no MHI). It is pretty useless for a 2009 ML, GL, R, E, SL and SLK. If you use an iPhone and would like it to charge in the car and you drive a 2007-2009 S or CL or a 2007-2008 E, ML, GL, or SL you might like it. Please consult with your parts department to definitely determine compatibility.