This is the BMW’s computer system to control some of the car functions. To facilitate its use, there is a LCD display mounted in the middle of the dashboard and controller knob mounted on the centre console near the gearshift.
This system is activated either by switching on the car’s electrical system (radio readiness) or by starting the car (ignition on). You’ll be greeted by the ‘BMW’ word on the screen and then straight on to the main menu.
From thereon you are given access to 8 menu items; CD/Multimedia, Radio, Telephone, Navigation, Contact, BMW Services, Vehicle Information and Settings. Within these 8 menu items you can further access the sub-menus individually. Located next to the controller knob, you have shortcut buttons to selected menu items including, CD, Radio, Navigation and Telephone. There is a Menu button which allows you to return to main menu if you get ‘lost’ along the way. Other buttons available are the Back and Option buttons.
A quick check on the catalogue reveals 2 versions of the I Drive. The Navigation System Professional and The Navigations System Business. So far I have only used the former and this overview shall be based on the former. The system has undergone some updates and this version I think is the 3rd update.
To access the submenus, first scroll up or down the main menu items by turning the controller knob (right or left). Once you reach your selected menu item, press the controller knob inward. Depending the menu item selected you may need to press the controller knob inward again to access the submenus.
Let say we want to adjust the Treble under submenu of Tone and main menu of CD/DVD, turn the controller knob to Treble (see the red outline on Treble). Press the controller knob once. This will highlight the Treble bar in red. Then turn the controller knob either left or right depending on whether you wish to decrease or increase the treble. To exit you can either press the Menu button next to controller knob or repeat your action in reverse.
The following are screen shots of some of the other menu items:
Apart from saving your favourite radio station, it also allows you to have manual tuning.
This gives you all the essential information about the car including the journey computer and vehicle status. The latter is useful as it alerts you to potential problems in the car and informs you when service is required.
In a nutshell this allows you to make adjustments to the LCD display, Language, Climate, Lights etc. One interesting submenu which I tried was the ‘Limit’ feature. Here you can set your speed limit and once you breach it there would be an audible warning on the dashboard.
This is probably the high point of the system. You set your destination and the I Drive’s navigation system will lead you to it. You can also have the option of voice guided assistance (a firm but polite sounding lady’s voice). Initially when I first used this option I had some trouble following the voice instructions on when to make a turn, especially when there are 2 turns in the same direction coming your way. Sometimes it pays to look at the signboards as well.
The other ‘cool’ feature of the navigation is the various optional views (different perspective) which you can view your current position.
It is not a perfect system, but it is quite accurate. I’ve used it on a trip to Singapore and it was a great help. However, it will show its limitations in fast developing places like the Klang Valley (Malaysia), where many new roads are being built. Sometimes you see yourself driving on a road that does not yet ‘exist’ in the screen map!
Overall the I Drive system is a feature which is here to stay. One aspect of the system which can be improved is to fine tune the number of submenus because its easy to get ‘lost’ along the way. Probably this system will eventually be included as a standard feature in all BMW cars.
Click on this to sample the voice guided assistance!