BMW I Drive

bmw i drive

The first time the lorry locked-up its wheels, I was entering the 'u' in 'Weston Super Mare' into the satellite navigation system. The second time, I was trying to switch the suspension from 'comfort' to 'sports' mode. The last time, I was splitting my attention between the 'Entertainment' screen and the road ahead. So I was free to watch the eighteen-wheeler's back end swing gracefully into the opposite lane- where it missed the front of an oncoming car by inches. God knows what would have happened if I'd been driving.

I probably would have survived. If you have to rear end an articulated lorry, you couldn't ask for a better car for the job than the new BMW 7-Series. As you'd expect, it's a bloody great vault, with enough deformable steel and high-speed airbags to protect its occupants from anything short of a SAM missile strike. But not from yourself. Thanks to its revolutionary iDrive controller and centrally mounted colour information screen, BMW's top-of-the-line motor encourages you to take your eyes off the road long enough to plough into a solid object.

The iDrive controller's intended mission was to let 7-Series' owners adjust over 700 functions. How many? Quick! Name all the things you want a car to do: accelerate, brake, turn, play the radio, play a CD, raise and lower windows, maintain a comfortable temperature, lock the doors, um, tell you how to get somewhere, tell you when the next service is due, um, um, wipe the windows and turn on the lights. That's a dozen. Which leaves 688 things you never knew you needed to do while driving that you can now do in a Seven Series by twisting and pushing the iDrive controller.

How about assigning a function-air re-circulation, satellite navigation or automatic handbrake- to a steering wheel-mounted button? Or firming up the dampers and steering? Or finding the nearest curry house in Milton Keynes? Impressive stuff. Yet common sense suggests that anything that distracts a driver from monitoring the outside environment is a bad thing. A device that requires you to take one hand off the wheel while distracting you from the road ahead is positively Darwinian. BMW's previous 'comms pack' was dangerous enough: challenging you to enter 'Cwmavon' into the sat nav on the trot. The iDrive is in a different league: challenging you to check your tyre pressure in the middle of a skid.

It seems unlikely that the Seven's target market- slightly older than middle-aged plutocrats- will be bothered about using iDrive. They're the kind of successful, techno-wary people who pay someone else to do their email. They'll just get in, curse themselves for forgetting to put their foot on the brake when pressing the start button, fiddle with the stalk mounted gearshift for a bit, curse themselves some more for not pressing the button that releases the parking brake and, finally, drive off. And that's it.

BMW knows this. They have so much faith in the iDrive system that you can operate all the car's major functions without touching the controller. Traditional rotary knobs regulate airflow and temperature. All the usual buttons operate the windows, seats, central locking, defrost, etc. If BMW believed that iDrive was the intuitive future of driver control, why did they equip the new Seven with two CD players? Maybe it's because the dash-mounted single CD can be operated manually, while the six-stack system requires iDrive.

I have no doubt that BMW will 'rectify' iDrive- if only because an army of shysters stands ready to enrich the relatives of Americans who iDrive themselves straight into a tree. BMW has already announced it will offer yet another way to control the techno feast that is the Seven Series: voice activation. Disenabling the screen when the car's in gear would have been the easier solution: iNotinDrive. A simplified 'heads-up' windscreen display would have been the better answer. But I guess BMW doesn't want to play second fiddle to a Chevrolet Corvette.

Like the customers who will eventually use it, iDrive will either adapt or die. As my review of the Seven will reveal, the actual car-the bit that all this trickery is designed to control-is a superb work of automotive engineering. By adding an uber gizmo, The Boys From Bavaria have revealed a bizarre lack of confidence in and focus on their core values. The company that builds 'The Ultimate Driving Machine' is the one company that should know an over-complicated and dangerous distraction when it sees one. The iDrive is not, as BMW claims, 'A New Way to Drive'. It is, in fact, a new way to die.

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  • Arthur Dailey For the Hornet less expensive interior materials/finishings, decontent just a little, build it in North America and sell it for less and everyone should be happy with both the Dodge and the Alfa.
  • Bunkie I so wanted to love this car back in the day. At the time I owned a GT6+ and I was looking for something more modern. But, as they say, this car had *issues*. The first of which was the very high price premium for the V8. It was a several thousand dollar premium over the TR-7. The second was the absolutely awful fuel economy. That put me off the car and I bought a new RX-7 which, despite the thirsty rotary, still got better mileage and didn’t require premium fuel. I guess I wasn’t the only one who had this reaction because, two years later, I test-drove a leftover that had a $2,000 price cut. I don’t remember being impressed, the RX-7 had spoiled me with how easy it was to own. The TR-8 didn’t feel quick to me and it felt heavy. The first-gen RX was more in line with the idea of a light car that punched above its weight. I parted ways with both the GT6+ and the RX7 and, to this day, I miss them both.
  • Fred Where you going to build it? Even in Texas near Cat Springs they wanted to put up a country club for sport cars. People complained, mostly rich people who had weekend hobby farms. They said the noise would scare their cows. So they ended up in Dickinson, where they were more eager for development of any kind.
  • MaintenanceCosts I like the styling of this car inside and out, but not any of the powertrains. Give it the 4xe powertrain - or, better yet, a version of that powertrain with the 6-cylinder Hurricane - and I'd be very interested.
  • Daniel J I believe anyone, at any level, should get paid as much as the market will bear. Why should CEOs have capped salaries or compensation but middle management shouldn't? If companies support poor CEOs and poor CEOs keep getting rewarded, it's up to the consumer and investors to force that company to either get a better CEO or to reduce the salary of that CEO. What I find hilarious is that consumers will continue to support companies where the pay for the CEOs is very high. And the same people complain. I stopped buying from Amazon during the pandemic. Everyone happily buys from them but the CEO makes bank. Same way with Walmart and many other retailers. Tim Cook got 100m in compensation last year yet people line up to buy Iphones. People who complain and still buy the products must not really care that much.