BMW offers preview of next-gen iDrive in electric iX at CES

The huge 14.9-inch infotainment display will be mighty powerful

BMW CES 2021 iDrive
BMW CES 2021 iDrive / Image Credit: BMW
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BMW is participating in this year’s virtual CES show, and it’s using the opportunity to take a closer look at the next-generation iDrive infotainment system. We’ve seen a few photos of the massive, curved screen in the BMW iX that was revealed last year, but now BMW is ready to have a quick chat about some of the features coming to it. Unfortunately, it’s more of a preview and not a full deep dive into the tech — BMW says detailed info is coming later in the year.

The next-gen iDrive attempts to bring it further into the future digital world, but it holds onto the analog connection of the iDrive rotary controller. Just like the current iDrive system, you’ll be able to control it via touch or the rotary controller — in the iX, the scroll/tilt wheel appears to be made of glass. The 14.9-inch infotainment screen is bigger than even the largest screen BMW offers on a car today (12.3 inches). 

BMW says that a new level of “digital intelligence” is headed for the iX in this system to make people’s lives easier. It offers a few examples. New, cloud-based services use an increasing amount of real-time data. It can receive and display hazard warnings from other BMW vehicles. Predictions on parking availability at a destination will be available. Optimized sensors throughout will increase automation and allow it to self-park with even greater ease than what’s available now. BMW is being vague about many of these capability claims, so we’ll be forced to wait and see about what exactly is on offer.

In addition to the new photos and info on the next iDrive, BMW has released a series of videos on a CES mini site. It goes into some different details and shows the screen in action. For example, BMW says the new Personal Assistant (for voice control) was inspired by the latest James Bond movies, calling it the modern day “Q.” It’s meant to have character and perhaps even make the driver laugh at an interaction. You can check out the mini site via this link here to see all of BMW’s CES videos.

And if you’re just interested in a quick laugh, BMW put together this rather cinematic piece (below) that looked back over the history of iDrive through the lens of talking cars. It uses the 7 Series, in which iDrive first took shape, and the upcoming iX.

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