BMW iDrive (second generation) review: BMW iDrive (second generation)

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CNET Editors' Rating

4.5 stars Outstanding
Review Date:
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The Good Plenty of shortcut buttons next to the controller. iDrive knob feels great in the hand. Plenty of features. Pleasant on the eye. Easy to use.

The Bad Voice recognition doesn't handle street names. No text-to-speech for nav. Split-screen mode idea may do some heads in.

The Bottom Line With the latest generation of iDrive BMW has gone from chump to trump, as the new system is easy-to-use, powerful, feature-packed and aesthetically pleasing. Some key features, like text-to-speech street names, are still missing, though.

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BMW's second-generation iDrive is progressively being rolled out throughout the BMW range, with the updated 3-Series, new 7-Series and new Z4 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:

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BMW iDrive (second generation)

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