BMW iX and i4 to adopt eighth-gen iDrive system

BMW has detailed its new iDrive control system, confirming it will be launched in the electric-powered iX SUV before featuring in the i4 saloon later this year.

Described as the “most powerful “ yet developed by BMW,  the eighth-generation system comes 20 years after iDrive made its debut in the fourth-generation 7-series, bringing with it the rotary controller and central display that continue to play a key role in the latest incarnation of the German car maker’s operating system.  

Underpinning the changes is a new generation of high-resolution displays and touch controls – all supported by a significantly upgraded software package aimed at improving the speed of commands, allowing a broader range of personalized functions and more extensive over-the-air software updates with significantly faster download speeds.

The most distinctive addition to the physical components is BMW’s new curved display. In the iX, it groups a 12.3-in instrument display together with a 14.9-in infotainment display in a single panel with a resolution of 200ppi. The free standing display is mounted atop the dashboard and angled slightly towards the driver.

The functions housed within the curved display can be operated either by a rotary controller mounted within the centre control with a touch function or alternatively via touch screen, conversational speech and gesture controls.

New three-dimensional graphics and operating menus are used for the curved display, bringing what BMW calls a “more immersive user experience” and “greater detail” across three different modes: Efficient, Sport and Individual. An additional “Calm” mode allows the driver to reduce the amount of information to just the speed of the vehicle. Further modes are planned to be developed and made available for download, according to BMW.

In a departure from the existing seventh-generation iDrive system, BMW has added a new “My Modes” function. It replaces the Drive Experience Control, allowing the driver to pre-set up to 10 different parameters.

BMW says the adoption of the new iDrive system has allowed it to reduce the number of physical buttons by half; the climate control, air conditioning and other ancillary functions are operated digitally.  

Supporting the new curved display is a further developed head-up display unit also using new graphics and new augmented reality functions.

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