Late last year BMW unveiled its first next generation front wheel drive car – the 2 Series Active Tourer. As we noted at the time, this was the first BMW with a full infotainment system without iDrive since the E46. Now that we see the new 7 Series and X7 without camo we can now clearly see BMW’s strategy and what it means to the venerable iDrive and gear selector.

The 7 Series has the new gear selector but like all rear wheel drive based BMWs, retains the iDrive controller

BMW’s Radical New Gear Selector

The gear selector you see above feels like the inevitable conclusion to BMW’s content evolution of the center console. Last week we had went hands-on with the new lever (which is a loose term) and found it to be surprisingly easy and even satisfying to use.

All the current functionality is still there including a sport mode which is engaged by pulling the lever back beyond the “D” engagement point. From there you can use the steering wheel paddles to change gears.

BMW Kills iDrive on Small Cars

BMW 220i Active Tourer previews the all touch-based input for small BMWs.

The bigger change for small BMWs (and all MINIs) is the elimination of the iDrive controller altogether. The system will include a scaled down dual-screen design similar to what we see on the 7 Series, I4 and revised X7. However unlike those cars all front-wheel drive BMWs will move to a 100% touch based.

Additionally the center console will house two large cupholders and (importantly) a spot to wirelessly charge your phone. That spot will also be where you’ll place your phone to start your car. Yes you will be able to use your phone as a kay in the next generation BMWs. Sources tell us that this will be the same CarKey technology in recent BMWs. It will also be capable of ultra white band tech which makes the process of using your phone as a key even easier.

Look for these changes to continue on the next generation X1 later this year before bowing in the X2, 1 Series and front wheel drive based 2 Series.

Gallery – BMW 2 Series Active Tourer Console