W163 Aftermarket Head Unit

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Hardcore MB Enthusiast
Mar 11, 2013
South Bucks
CLS63 SB, SLK55, CLK350 'Vert, Triumph Sprint (Bike not Dolly...),
Good evening all.

I've just acquired an 03 MY W163 which came out of the factory with the basic Audio 10 radio/CD player unit. The car now has a Kenwood single DIN unit, capabilities unknown, but I suspect also just a radio and CD player. There is a single-DIN sized cubbyhole immediately beneath it in the fascia.

I can live without satnav, but I do need the capability to play MP3 tracks from an SD card or USB drive, and I'd like Bluetooth so I can use my mobile phone on the move.

Is it an easy DIY job to slot a double DIN unit in its place? If so, I'm minded to try a cheapo eBay Chinese all-singing all-dancing unit and see how I get on. I don't know much about such things, though I'm confident of wiring in a standalone unit provided the instructions are OK and I can find a guide to which connection does what in the existing OE connection setup.

I presume that if the replacement unit has Bluetooth I will be able to use it to work with my phone, but there will not presumably be a microphone in the car; if so, does anyone know how I use my phone to make calls? Would I have to fit a microphone somewhere, or would the unit have one built in?
As usual COMAND on Line would be the place to ask for definitive answers but fitting should be straightforward, you may need loom adapters depending on what the new unit and the MB wiring has although this may have been changed / butchered when the Kenwood unit was installed.

If the new unit has Bluetooth then it will certainly be for telephone calls and almost certainly music streaming as well, as for a microphone, the unit will be unlikely to have one built in as they need to be sited close to where you are speaking to pick up your voice clearly and cut down on ambient noise.

It may be worth checking if you could fit one in or around the front overhead lighting console where many OE ones are fitted, if not then running a cable up the A pillar trim is easy especially if you have some trim removal tools (look on Amazon etc, a decent set is under £10) which may come in handy for other rim removal jobs but obviously be cautious if the car has curtain airbags and disconnect the battery for at least 15 minutes before working near them.
Thank you for that. Nothing there I can't manage, so I'll give it a go, I think. Yes, I do have trim tools - cheapo-cheapo eBay nylon items, but they do the job.

I take your point on possible butchered wiring; there's a Kenwood unit in there now, so fingers crossed the OE loom wiring is OK...
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Can't go wrong with the 100 quid pioneer mechless double din units. The pioneer is the only cheap unit to come with a external mic in the box. Allow 50 quid to buy the correct iso connector leads to allow use of the steering wheel controls (except the phone buttons, to get them to work with aftermarket radios is a pain in the butt)
What steering wheel buttons? It's a W163; no steering wheel buttons. Basic, eh?

I was hoping to get a unit with SD card slot and GPS/Satnav as well. Any ideas/suggestions would be welcome - the world of aftermarket head units is all rather new to me...
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I have this Android unit in my W203 and it may fit the ML (COMAND 2.0 style) - Erisin ES5863C

Do you have a pic of your current unit?
If it is the squarer style I'd look at generic 2 DIN units and get an adapter loom as others have recommended.
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Look for an Audio 10 on the net; that's what it had when it left the factory. It has a single DIN Kenwood now. Never had a COMAND, so no complications; a generic 2 DIN it will obviously be.

Question is, which one? I'd like GPS/satnav, and must have CD player, an SD card slot and Bluetooth.
I'm not a Chinese unit hater like many on here but you must understand that although they do everything they don't do anything particularly well.

The biggest problem I find with them is the Bluetooth call quality is rubbish so if this is important to you don't buy one. The boot up times are annoying and the GPS software is always crap.

But as you have a normal double din sized orrifice you won't be paying extra to get a command replica.

Later mercs with can, buttons and Dodgy sized holes it makes sense to get a Chinese unit.

How important is a cd player to you ? Since I've gone usb stick I've never used a cd for years. If you really must have sat nav but can do without the cd player I'd look at one of the pioneer / Kenwood / Alpine, android app / apple car play units. For 300 quid will be more reliable than a Chinese unit, will fit in your gap and have much better Bluetooth call quality
There is a lot of threads discussing the Chinese units.
Reliability of not only the units on occasion but also the seller can be an issue. But you get what you pay for and with Chinese the value for money can make paying circa £1K for a named unit laughable.

'If' you go Chinese be sure it's Octo core, 4gig ram, and that 'will' have 32gig internal memory (29gig usable) for your media.
My latest unit cost me £308 and does everything better than my previous unit. Radio is approx 2 seconds, Sat Nav maybe 15 secs. I choose my own Sat Nav App and would favour Tomtom but it seems there are issues with its compatability with Android 9 (my latest unit), so now I'm getting used to Google maps until they sort that.
Used to love IGO on my previous Android units but can't say I like their latest app too much. Co Pilot has issues with Android 9 also.

I haven't tried these
UK Car Wireless Steering Wheel Button Remote Control Universal For DVD GPS Kits | eBay
but maybe are a good solution to your lack of steering controls.
There are different versions and maybe cheaper.
I can see how they may even be better than MB buttons as with Android units there aren't enough of them.
Example it isn't possible to flip to menu or home screen, or indeed flip between radio, media, sat nav with a simple press, these might well do that as they would be programmable.
To programme I beleive you would need a 'factory settings' code from the seller to enter the HU's menu for that, but they supply that code on request.
Look for an Audio 10 on the net; that's what it had when it left the factory. It has a single DIN Kenwood now. Never had a COMAND, so no complications; a generic 2 DIN it will obviously be.

Question is, which one? I'd like GPS/satnav, and must have CD player, an SD card slot and Bluetooth.

I had an audio10 unit in my 203 so does your unit looks like this would fit?

Well, I have a square double DIN aperture, so if that is the same size, it would fit.

It turns out, though, that the Kenwood unit in the car now does have a USB port, so I can play my music through that off a stick. I can always use the TomTom for navigation, so that just leaves the phone connection. Maybe I could do without that...
You should be able to connect Parrot with Kenwood for phone calls and music streaming.
This is the sort of thing I have in my Land Rover:
7'' Single Din Car Stereo Radio Bluetooth Touch Screen MP5 Player Mirroring AUX | eBay
Mine has a memory card slot in the front, and USB ports in the rear, both of which can be used for MP3 and movie playing.
It also has GPS, and runs Windows CE.
It also doesnt sound bad for a Chinese unit.
In the S55 I have an Android unit, which I bought from Icebox:
CES AUTOS Limited. Mercedes
Not an easy fit into the Comand wiring, and the lead for wiring it into the system was as much use as a chocolate teapot.
Using a couple of after market amps, I have got it to sound nice through 4 after market speakers, and the standard Bose sub.
Its not new, and runs Android 5.1.
I also paid for a DAB USB unit, and a DVB add on, the GPS runs off the original antenna, as does the FM radio.
It also connects to the internet wirelessly for updates and downloads from Google play.
The DAB, DVB and Wifi have to have their own antenna, which is awkward with the W220 windscreen.
I have a similar vintage W163 and did the single to double swap. The whole job took roughly 5 minutes from memory. The cubby hole piece pulled out and the double unit slipped straight in. I've done a swap back to single and then now back on double again and it's pretty easy ( I was going to sell the ML but decided to keep it). I chose a Kenwood unit with CarPlay which has now been in probably for 18 months and it's great. Yes they aren't the cheapest, however have a good feature set now that Apple have opened it all up, Spotify, BBC Sounds, WAZE, Google maps etc are all great so would recommend the change over.

Happy to add pics but don't have any with me right now.



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