New York Times Review of the new iDrive

Last Thursday the New York Times published a review of the new iDrive. We did not link to it or even acknowledge its existence for several reasons. It was so poorly researched and contained so many falsehoods that we thought we would first like to review it and make some corrections. The thing is, our friend, Jonathan Spira at the BMWCCA was faster to the draw than we were. He made some corrections to the NYT piece and as always he drives home the same points we would.

The latest version of iDrive in the new 7 Series As a public service, here are five key points where the Great Gray Lady got it wrong, with full clarification.
NEW YORK TIMES: Earlier iDrives were so slow to respond that changing any setting was best performed while the car was parked.
We say: While pre-4.0 iDrive systems set no speed records, this is simply not correct. While the Gen 1 iDrive (as introduced in September 2001 in the 2002 E65/E66 7 Series) was a bit of a laggard, it was also built on a platform that was discarded fairly quickly. Even this system was fast enough to be used when driving; its complex menu structure, however, did slow the driver down—but that is clearly not what The Times had in mind. Starting with Generation 2 (introduced in the 2004 E60/E61 5 Series), iDrive, while not setting speed records, could not be characterized as slow, either. Subsequent software upgrades provided some improvement in speed, and the Gen 3 iDrive (introduced in March 2007) could even be considered snappy.

For Jonathan ‘s full public service announcement please click on over the BMWCCA forum here

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  • Michael

    My 2007 iDrive as slow as hell. Half of the time it ignores clicks and other gestures forcing me to take eyes of the road and verify on screen where the selection is. Which defeats the entire purpose of it.

    “Could not be characterized as slow” is a gross understatement. JS is not known to be a BMW critic though.

  • Michael: I know JS well and he is a critic when necessary. His comment above is in reference to the 3rd Generation iDrive which does not have the haptic feedback it was introduced in mid-2007 as he stated; it has the programmable shortcuts. It is significantly faster than the haptic setup b/c processing power is not needed for the haptic portion and can be utilized elsewhere.

    I have a 2007 with the haptic and the only time I find it slow is when I am scrolling through long lists in the Navigation part of the system and that is more due to the DVD transfer speed than anything as all NAV data is stored on the DVD.

    It is not slow with my phone book containing about 500 contacts.

    The system in my 2006 3er (7/05 build) was so much slower than my 2007, but the speed did improve as software updates came. The latest software on the Generation 2 or 3 systems speeds it up and improves the overall function by adding several features.

  • Surprising that an article from the NYT would have so many errors. Great to see them being called on it.

    I love my iDrive – this is the first car I’ve ever had with it (well, first BMW too). It is indeed slow at times, mostly with regard to navigation. All other functions I have zero complaints with. Plus, the Navigation is slow on my 135i, in part, because I have the real-time traffic turned on, which obviously slows things down.

    Thanks for posting this.

  • jkp

    Unfortunately, it is no longer surprising that an article in the NEW YORK TIMES would be so poorly researched prior to publication.