Mercedes-Benz's mbrace telematics system has a multitude of notable features on Cars.com's 2015 C300 4Matic long-term test car. After the mbrace Starting Package's six-month trial ended, the subscription auto-renewed and left us scratching our heads what Mercedes wanted with $320 until we called and found the charge was for a year's worth of mbrace. Let's break down what that $320 includes and also explain why changes to the mbrace system for 2016 might sway you toward a 2016 C-Class.
Related: Follow our long-term fleet
The 2015 mbrace's Starting Package is $280 for a year's subscription, not including $40 in taxes, but it does include many of the notable features we wanted to keep active in our C300, including automatic collision notification, emergency call button, roadside assistance connection and stolen vehicle assistance, plus the fantastic Send2Benz feature we highlighted earlier in the year.
Here's a comprehensive list of what's included in the 2015 Starting Package for $320 with tax:
- Automatic collision notification
- SOS/emergency call
- Roadside assistance connection
- Automatic alarm notification, which will text you when the alarm is triggered
- Stolen vehicle location assistance
- Safe ride, which contacts a family member or taxi if you're unable to drive
- Valet protect, which lets you map a boundary on your phone to alert if a valet goes outside that area
- Send2Benz, which sends addresses from the phone to the car's navigation system
- mbrace mobile app
- Remote door unlock/lock
- Remote horn and lights
- Vehicle finder
- Dealer connect
- Vehicle information
- Message center, which provides maintenance reminders
Two other packages, mbrace Plus and Mercedes-Benz Apps, expire after three months and are $20 a month and $14 a month, respectively, to continue the services, or $28 a month for both. Mbrace Plus provides personal concierge services for travel and dining recommendations and also includes speed alerts to text when the car has exceeded a predetermined speed and travel zones to monitor if the car leaves an outlined boundary, plus traffic and weather information. We didn't use those services much in the three-month trial so we didn't renew for that package, or Mercedes-Benz apps with Wi-Fi, movie times, restaurant reviews, traffic cameras or Google search.
For 2016, the C-Class receives a reworking of the mbrace packages with new features and bundles. Most notable is a five-year complimentary trial of what's called mbrace Connect, with some features from the 2015 Starting Package as well as ... wait for it ... a newly available remote start, which operates through the mobile app. Features from the former apps package are bundled into the five-year package, including Google search, Yelp, flight info and traffic cameras, along with the mobile app, Send2Benz, vehicle finder and remote lock/unlock.
Not included in those free five years are automatic collision notification, stolen vehicle assistance and safe ride, all of which are now part of a $199-a-year package after the six-month free trial expires. Other add-ons are the mbrace Concierge package with restaurant and location recommendations, traffic and weather, and an mbrace Entertain package with Wi-Fi and iHeartRadio integration. The add-on packages are available separately for $20 a month and $18 a month, respectively, or packaged for $28 a month. A post-free-trial price for the five-year plan isn't available yet - though having remote start is a big plus, and the five years is a good trial period to determine definitively if you want to pay whatever the amount turns out to be.