• Apr 30, 2006

According to the Telematics Research Group (TRG), the crafty engineers at BMW are the most technologically savvy bunch selling cars in North America-- at least as far as telematics go. The upscale Bavarian marque headed the TRG Automotive Technology Index thanks to its range of available "key telematics, infotainment and driver assist technology." Composed of 30 different metrics in six categories, BMW edged Mercedes-Benz and Cadillac to take the top spot, with Infiniti and Lexus rounding out the top five.

Advances in driver assist technology like lane-departure warning systems and adaptive cruise control have largely been introduced in brand flagships like BMW's 7-Series and Mercedes-Benz's S-Class, with features trickling down to the rest of the lineup as time goes on.

That said, innovations like BMW's all-in-one metallic porkpie hat (otherwise known as iDrive) have had their share of detractors and glitches, with not everyone warming to the influx of electronics in their vehicles. Obviously, however, that hasn't deterred the brand from moving forward with various technological initiatives.

[Source: DrivingToday.com; AutoReview.ru]



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 13 Comments
      • 8 Years Ago
      I once spent the good part of a drive in the 7-Series trying to figure out how to turn the stereo off. I ended up asking when I got back to the dealer. Guess what? You push the volume knob. So, yes, they have gotten better.

      Wiht the new S-Class they similarly provide buttons to quickly access the most important functions.

      In the STS, on the other hand, I never could figure out how to adjust the suspension. I've read it's somewhere in all of those menus, but I gave up. And when I later asked a salesman, he didn't know either.

      Suspension adjustments should definitely be handled via a button, as you often would like to make them on the fly. The Audi A8 fails in this regard as well.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Just to say to Steve C in point 9 above, you're definitely not alone in your views regarding current technology in cars. And I would challange anyone to try and make arguement against your views. No doubt there will be customers who change their 'Ulitmate Driving Machine' after a few years simply because the Sat Nav database is out of date. Car manufacturers aren't stupid.

      Regarding the start button, how's this for an idea. Insert your key, twist it until the engine turns over, then release. It's the quickest, and still the most simple method we have. And it costs $0.00 Perhaps in another 20yrs time, someone will do away with this start button trend and re-introduce a single key. (Is there any advantage to having a start button over what we've used in the past?)

      Regarding i-drive... 'How hard can it be to figure it out what to do to select something on the screen? You can only rotate, push and move in several directions'

      Yes - You forgot to add 'at the same time as driving the car'. Weather i-drive is good or bad, it certainly has the disadvantage of compromising your own as well as other peoples safety on roads. You could of course simply operate these systems safely whilst the car is stopped. Now having to stop your car to make some adjustment I would argue is not exactly advanced technology.

      Any technology which requires you momentarily take your eyes off the road would be banned in my world. Wouldn't it be better to scrap i-drive etc, and invest in voice recognition technology (already available in a few cars). Just my thoughts.
      • 8 Years Ago
      In an age when anything technologically "current" is only current for about 12 months, why would anyone think the current crop of Bimmer-tech is a good idea unless they are able to provide continual hardware and software upgrades for a reasonable fee?

      It's like getting a factory GPS unit that's already a year dated and paying 3-4 times what a tech-current portable GPS costs. And the factory units (like the one in my Honda that I hate) often run off DVDs that cost upwards of $200, if you want the most recent map upgrade -- in an electronics market where a decent portable now costs about $300!

      Am I the only one who sees the stupidity of this?

      What will all these techno-cars be worth in 10 years, when a computer meltdown would cost more to fix than the car's worth?
      • 8 Years Ago
      The I-Drive is definitely made for owners and not for testers. It takes a little while to learn, but once you get the hang of it, it's pretty awesome.

      As far as the active steering goes, I've seen some pretty positive reviews on it as well so C&D is just one opinion. I personally love it, but would have a tough time justifying it at its current cost.

      And to the guy who took "FIVE MINUTES" to get the key out, here's the directions:

      Push key fob in
      Pull key fob out

      Hope that's not too complicated for you genius.
      • 8 Years Ago
      If the messing with key fob is really an issue, for about $500 you can get the comfort access option from BMW.

      Problem solved.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Just for the record, Infiniti led the industry with the introduction Lane Departure Warning - not BMW.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I have an '06 325i and my dad has an '05 530i with the iDrive.

      The thing about BMW's design philosophy when it comes to electronics is sort of like Adobe's philosophy when it comes to Photoshop; user interface designs that are simple and easy to figure out initially often become inefficient as the user gains experience. BMW has chosen tho make car interfaces that have a somewhat steep learning curve but become very intuitive once you get use to the system.

      The end result is that BMW's designs are very effective- for the folks who matter. Those who pay for and drive an iDrive equipped BMW tend to not have many complaints about the system and, though there are a few lost moments in the first month of ownership, they tend to really like the system. For press pundits and column writers, iDrive makes an easy target (even though I am sure many of them have spent enough time in press cars to have figured it all out by now).
      • 8 Years Ago
      BMW should be proud to have yet another award. I do not like the iDrive system in my mother's 530i and I am glad she did not get the sport package, which integrates a variable steering ratio...

      "Part of the optional Sport package ($3300) is one of the more curious techno-innovations of the new 5-series, "active steering." Instead of simply lightening the effort of steering at low speeds through a conventional variable-boost system, active steering changes the ratio of the steering. If a driver turns the steering wheel 10 degrees off-center, the front wheels will turn more at lower speeds than at higher speeds. BMW says this is sporty because the car has maximum agility at low speeds and maximum stability when you're bookin', with no trade-off. The only real benefit we noticed, though, was in low-speed, around-town driving where you will be shocked at what a sharp angle this large sedan can turn and will very likely run the inside rear tire up on a curb or two as you cut corners too closely on first try."

      --Car and Driver review of the new 530i
      LINK: http://www.caranddriver.com/roadtests/7573/bmw-530i.html


      Also when I took in my father's 330ci in for service, the dealer gave me a new 325i to play with. The car is awesome and fun to drive (I was going 90 in a 65 during rush hour and didnt know until I looked that the speedometer). The only thing I cannot stand is the push button start. Unlike MB, GM, Lexus, and whoever else has a push to start option; BMW makes you put the key fob into a slot (just a steel key) and then push the button. the worst part is after I got home, I had to sit in the driveway for 5 minutes messing with the key fob to get it out of the slot.

      BMW's are no longer the "Ultimate Driving Machine" they are the "Ultimate Self-Driving-Pain-In-The-Ass Machine"
      • 8 Years Ago
      Oh, please! Criticizing BMW is so cliche that your arguments are moot. I have a 325i ('03) and my Dad recently got a 750Li ('06) and we have zero complaints. If BMWs are so bad, why are they making record profits and record sales, whereas nearly everyone else is floundering? The numbers don't stack up. BMW sells cars, and continues to rack up award after award (3-Series is again Car of the Year).

      BTW, my Dad is not a techie AT ALL and came from an older car without all the tech gizmos, and he hasn't had a single complaint with iDrive. It has improved drastically since it was introduced, and just as with BMW styling, everyone else has copied it, so it's again hard to argue why it's bad.

      To the poster before me, your argument about the key means nothing. So you weren't used to the loaner car, so what? There are always nuances and after a day or so, you'd be used to it.

      Oh, and at least you can get a six-speed standard on BMWs ... try getting that on a Lexus! BTW, have you ever driven with Active Steering, Talis? You're talking out of your ass on pure assumption.

      The bottom line is iDrive is essential in cars this advanced. Without it, there'd be more buttons than a plane cockpit. And BMW has added knobs and buttons so you can control the climate control and radio on/off and volume without iDrive, so most basic functions are non-iDrive.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Top Gear had an episode on the M5. They said "How long do you think it takes this car to go from zero to sixty?". It took them 20 minutes. Yes. The stupid I-drive which comes with the M5, you had to set the engine to 500+ hp and into "sport mode", turn off the driving assists except for traction control.

      Stoneman

      http://www.stonemanautoreview.com
      • 8 Years Ago
      I don't know about anyone else but when I get into the car after someone else has driven it, I find it annoying that I have to fiddle with the seat controls on something as simple as a 9-way adjustable seat let alone the I-drive system. However since Im 6'5 its inevitable.

      I've driven a new m5 once, I was looking forward to it probably more than anything else since losing my virginity and that bloody iDrive did kill it slightly for me. The fact that you can't just get in a car and drive anymore is stupid. Cars are for driving, yes we all love the gadgets, I'm a huge gadget geek but all the adjustments and the question hovering in the back of your mind of "could I set something differently to make this better" is just not cool.

      If anything they should make a system that dumbs it down with buttons like "For driving to work" and "For speeding on the highway" and "For racing that idiot in the civic".
      • 8 Years Ago
      BMW named top brand for stupid, over complicated electronics that always fail to work properly in true German fashion.
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