BMW previews eighth-generation iDrive system

Jack Evans, PA Motoring Reporter
·2-min read

BMW has showcased its new iDrive infotainment system ahead of its implementation in the firm’s upcoming electric iX and i4 models.

This new setup incorporates a ‘new generation of displays, controls and software’ alongside a greater emphasis on voice and touch controls.

BMW iDrive
The conventional gear stick is replaced in favour of a slider-style controller

A new BMW Curved Display forms the main point of interaction between driver and system, while upgraded software will allow for quicker loading times and a greater range of over-the-air updates. It’s the first BMW to accept 5G networks, too, which helps to speed up these updates, while the system also incorporates a range of digital services that will allow users to see information about satellite navigation, parking and charging in real-time.

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In the iX, the setup combines a 12.3-inch information display with a 14.9-inch control display to create one widescreen single unit. The number of buttons and dials accompanying these screens has been reduced by almost half compared with cars featuring the previous-generation system, though the iDrive controller has been retained as a central control element on the centre console.

Capacitive controls have also been placed on the iX’s steering wheel, while a new slider gear selector has been fitted in the place of a conventional gear lever.

The eighth-generation system follows on from a long history of BMW infotainment set-ups which was kick-started 20 years ago in the 7 Series. At that time, it broke the mould for in-car accessibility, with its rotary controller and detailed menus setting the tone for many future models.

We’ll get our first look at the new system in action when the iX is unveiled later this year.