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BMW defends iDrive system

Date: 10 November 2006   |   Author:

BMW has defended its much-criticised iDrive system that pulls audio, climate and satnav functions together, controlled by a single scrolling menu screen.

Since its launch on the current-generation 7-series luxury saloon, the system has been refined for its use on the 5-series, 3-series, X3 and now, with the launch of the new second-generation model, the X5.

"iDrive is not the fastest system - we lose points for that - but it is the safest," BMW's general manager for human-machine interaction Dr Lutz Eckstein told BusinessCar at last week's launch of the new X5.

He said the fact that the system doesn't automatically return to a set screen means that drivers are able to perform tasks in stages when it's safe to briefly divert their eyes from the road.

The new X5 arrives in the UK next April, initially with the choice of 3.0-litre diesel and 4.8-litre petrol engines. A 3.0-litre petrol follows soon after launch, although this won't account for many of the predicted 6000 units sold in 2007. The excellent twin-turbo diesel used in the 3-series, 5-series and facelifted X3 will also be added around the end of 2007.

As usual with BMW, the new X5 adds a host of technical innovations, mostly on the options list. These include a head-up display that projects tailored information such as current speed onto the windscreen to save the driver from taking their eyes off the road, a first for an off-roader.

BMW has also defended the price rises that see the entry-level 3.0-litre diesel pass the £40,000 mark. The company claims that once its spec is taken into account, the rises are little more than 1% as the previously optional automatic gearbox and part-electric seats specified by most buyers have been made standard.

"People will be ticking fewer boxes with the new model so they feel like they're getting more as they don't have to spec the car up," said a spokesman.