UK journalist Richard Aucock got a sneak peak into the then very secret new 7er and it ‘s updated iDrive system last year when we got a tour through one of BMW ‘s engineering labs. He also got a lot of background around the ideology behind the iDrive and BMW ‘s general philosophy around cockpit interaction and dispay.

>BMW needed a fundamental overhaul of its controller system. As we now know, and was shown to me then, the solution it found is brilliant. ‘We’ve kept the 4-Rose menu as ‘direct’ buttons,’ said the engineers. ‘But, if you’re trained in iDrive, you don’t use the buttons. You do the whole interaction WITHOUT looking at the controller.’

>That’s fine, we wagered, but isn’t it even easier to have touchscreen? No, said a horrified engineer. See, touchscreen is absolute: ‘you need to guide your finger all the time, by looking at the screen.’ Imagine, they said, driving along and trying to input a nav destination.

>‘iDrive is relative, though – you can turn, wait, give your attention to the road, but still know where you were when your eyes flick back.

>‘This is a system for driving. We’ve designed iDrive in general to consist evolutionary steps, so you can see where you came from. It doesn’t overload drivers. And is, we feel, far safer.’

+ BMW tells me why its instruments are lit in orange: an iDrive iNsight /

Thanks for the tip Nick.