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BMW to launch new iDrive system with iX EV

The eighth-generation iDrive is almost here and will appear first on looming EVs

16 Mar 2021

BMW has unveiled and detailed its eighth-generation iDrive infotainment system which is set to debut on the iX electric SUV by year’s end before making an appearance in the i4 electric gran coupe.


Following on from the looming EV duo, BMW says the system will be gradually rolled out across its model range as new models and model updates emerge and hit the market.


At face value, the star feature of the new operating system will be the new dual curved 12.3-inch instrument cluster and 14.9-inch ‘control display’ oriented towards the driver but the upgrades run far deeper than that with artificial intelligence, software over-the-air updates and an upgraded set of skills for the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant.


In the name of modernity, the 14.9-inch display is operated via touch, however BMW purists will be pleased to note the centre console-mounted iDrive controller has been retained, albeit surrounded by haptic controls.


The reason for the controller’s return, according to BMW, is in the name of familiarity with “control clusters for relevant and frequently used basic functions are retained where customers expect to find them”.


While the controller has been retained, the brand clearly states the primary method of operation for the new system is via voice command or the touchscreen interface.


Highlights of the artificial intelligence capabilities include its ability to learn and interpret the most commonly made routes and set destinations, allowing it to anticipate and automatically set the next destination so drivers can be kept up to date with the traffic potential hazards along the way.


Another standout feature of the AI capabilities is the automated climate control which learns and stores the various user profiles’ climate settings and automatically sets them depending on the user.


“Control of the air conditioning system will be incorporated into the BMW Curved Display in future, as customers should seldom need to adjust any of the climate control settings,” BMW said in a statement.


“Each further adjustment is registered by the system and stored in the user profile for the BMW ID so that users do not have to keep making the same adjustments.”


Naturally there are almost countless other functions, gimmicks and incremental improvements housed within the new system, including the almost obligatory increased computing power and enhanced connectivity measures.


The first version of iDrive debuted back in 2001 on the flagship 7 Series, from which it trickled down throughout the portfolio with the various generations present in every BMW since.

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