What is BMW iDrive? Is it worth it?

BMW’s iDrive is one of the most intuitive infotainment systems on the market. It comes fitted as standard to all the German brand’s new cars, from the 1 Series hatchback to the flagship 7 Series saloon, and controls a range of features including the stereo and sat nav.

Check out the latest new car deals on a range of BMWs or read our in-depth guides to Audi’s rival MMI system and Mercedes’ COMAND unit.

How does BMW iDrive work?

All iDrive systems feature a large dashboard-mounted display and a control knob on the centre console. A number of shortcut buttons are also fitted to help you access key functions, such as the sat nav and radio, more quickly.

An optional touchpad on top of the rotary dial can be used to input addresses, too. Simply write using your fingertip and the system will recognise individual letters with impressive accuracy.

The iDrive’s controls are most commonly offered with a metallic finish but, on luxurious 7 Series models, a ceramic option is also available.

What features does BMW iDrive offer?

BMW iDrive is now standard on all the brand’s vehicles. Even entry-level cars are offered with a CD player, Bluetooth connectivity, a USB port and sat-nav functions as standard while some models come fitted with voice recognition, too.

An upgraded iDrive Professional system is also available that comes with a larger display, sat nav with traffic updates, internet connectivity, a 12GB hard drive and a second display within the instrument binnacle. These features come as standard on larger models, such as the X5 and 5 Series, but can be fitted to other cars for around £900.

Is iDrive Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible?

Currently, 2 Series, 3 Series, 4 Series, 6 Series, 7 Series, X3, X4, X5 and X6 models’ iDrive units are offered with Apple CarPlay. No BMWs support Android Auto connectivity, yet.

What does BMW iDrive look like?

To get a better idea of exactly what BMW iDrive’s like to use, watch our detailed videos of the 1 Series’ and 7 Series’ systems, below.

BMW 1 Series

BMW 7 Series

What’s the future of BMW iDrive?

BMW’s most advanced iDrive unit comes fitted to its flagship luxury saloon, the 7 Series. Not only is it faster than any other system in the brand’s range but it boasts a handful of high-tech features that are expected to trickle down to more affordable models in the future.

Most impressive is the gesture control function that allows you to sweep through menus or adjust the stereo volume by waving your hand in mid air – no physical buttons required.

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BMW 1 Series

Fun-to-drive small hatchback with an upmarket interior
8/10
£22,410 - £34,760
RRP
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BMW 3 Series

A sporty saloon with economical engines
8/10
£27,760 - £45,975
RRP
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