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BMW's second-generation iDrive is progressively being rolled out throughout the BMW range, with the updated 3-Series,and models being the first to be fitted with the new system.
A first-gen iDrive controller (left) and the new iDrive controller (right), although you'll have to spec the Professional Navigation system to get all the new features. (Credit: BMW)
Be careful though. Currently in the new 3-Series range many models can be optioned with either the Business Navigation or Professional Navigation pack. Both feature the new slimmed down iDrive controller, flanked by a number of shortcut and function buttons, but only the Professional pack features the guts of the second-gen iDrive system: namely the new software, menu system and hard disk-based satellite navigation.
Meanwhile, the Business nav system runs a version of the first-gen iDrive system, which was BMW's first attempt to consolidate the functions of the sat nav, entertainment, climate control, phone and car configuration systems into a single computer driven menu system. However, the system's "four quadrants design" limited functionality and forced designers to put new features in odd locations. Naturally buyers and reviewers alike were left scratching their heads.
Thankfully, the new iDrive has gone from chump to trump with a menu structure that no longer distorts the space-time continuum. In the main menu you'll find: