BMW is not letting the current generation of iDrive get too long in the tooth without an update. Other German brands have rolled out in-car infotainment and navigation with handwriting recognition and tactile input- BMW is now testing the same thing. Our sources point to the upcoming 7 Series refresh (yes its time already) as the debut point for the new iDrive system. The spy shot above is of the interior for the next generation X5- set to hit the market in under 18 months.

The biggest change in the system reportedly will be the controller itself. It will feature a trackpad like surface on the top of the dial. This will allow users to both navigate the system and input alpha-numeric information when at a standstill. The system will remain hard disk based although it is rumored to feature the ability be user updated and can sync new map and system updates via a laptop or other form of USB connection (with the data on it) rather than a trip to the dealer. As in the past, this update will trickle down to models in the BMW lineup that are technically able to support the new system.

This new system will be the highest offering within the BMW iDrive and navigation lineup- depending on the market it may be called “Professional ” rather than the more stripped down “Business ” offering. This new version of the controller will not replace the current controller but be optional, depending on the market.

photo: Auto Motor Und Sport