BMW iDrive system

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iDrive is a computer system in BMW cars, whose task is to support various types of vehicle functions. iDrive brings together all car systems in one structure, which allows the driver to conveniently and easily control the functions available. The system includes a color LCD display located on the dashboard, above the central console and a multi-functional controller located in the central tunnel near the gearshift.

iDrive presented the first configuration of multifunctional fiber optic communication with very high bandwidth used in production cars. Such configurations are used in applications requiring high speed operation, such as television, DVD and various types of road assistance systems, such as active cruise control, head-up display or night vision.


iDrive was first used on the BMW 7 Series (E65) in 2001. The first generation of the system was equipped with a rotary controller, and the GPS computer (NAV01) located in the trunk could only support maps on CDs.

The limited version of the system with a 6.6-inch display, without navigation, was only available on the 5, 6 and 7 series models and X5, X6, as a paid option were also available on the 1 and 3 series models.

iDrive Professional Navigation (CCC)

October 2003 brings the first changes. Two buttons joined the rotary controller, one “menu” and the other programmable, while the GPS computer (NAV02) received a faster processor, DVD player and the ability to display maps in perspective (from a bird’s eye view).

In April 2005, the upper part of the controller is covered with leather, and the GPS unit (NAV03) is equipped with an even faster processor. The upgrade also reaches the 8.8-inch display in the form of a brighter screen and the ability to operate an MP3 player with a 6-CD changer, as well as an iPod interface. Additional options also included: a TV tuner, DVD changer, BMW Night Vision system, as well as side cameras and a reversing camera.

iDrive Professional Navigation (CIC)

The last major system update took place in 2008. iDrive received a new display with higher resolution and sensitivity, the controller was changed and 5 new buttons added (which gave a total of 7), as well as the ability to access the internet. The maps were placed on an internal 2.5 ” 80 GB hard disk, on which you can place up to 8 GB of music, and a USB port was placed in the clipboard. In 2009, the iDrive system was able to play video format on DVD, however, for security reasons, watching video was only available when the vehicle was stationary.

iDrive Professional Navigation (CIC-HIGH)

At the end of 2012, extensive changes were introduced in both hardware and software: a faster processor, more memory, a larger hard disk, improved 3D maps and cosmetic corrections regarding the interface itself.

The latest version of the iDrive system has even more advanced technologies such as a touch screen, spelling recognition system with a touch reader located on the top of the controller, as well as support through voice commands (voice control). Certainly, the cherry on top is the gesture recognition system, thanks to which we can increase or decrease the volume of the radio with one gesture or answer or reject a phone call.


komponenty systemu iDrive
iDrive display and controller in the BMW X6 (E71)

The iDrive system, apart from the standard navigation or radio support, has very large possibilities. Below is the list of the initial screen with short descriptions of the given functions:

CD/Multimedia – support for CD / DVD player or changer, external audio devices connected to jack or iPod inputs and support for devices operating via bluetooth. Sound adjustment as well as a collection of saved songs.

Radio – available options are FM and AM band, saved stations and sound control (treble, bass, balance, fader, equalizer, surround and volume qualization).

Telephone – has a phone book, redial, information on received calls, option to dial the number and bluetooth. After pairing via bluetooth, the phone can also be operated via the handle (optional) located in the armrest.

Navigation – an innovative way to enter a destination using a circle-oriented keyboard and the letters fading out when entering a name, allows you to quickly find the city or street you are looking for. The display offers a 2D and 3D view, and in addition to the address book and destination entry, we also have options available: recent destinations, important places, saved trips and route.

Office – the function works with navigation and telephone, has the ability to enter home address and phone book.

ConnectedDrive – a number of programs and applications supporting the car user such as: remote service (the ability to control air conditioning or lighting via a smartphone), weather information, email box, traffic information or world news. Apps like Facebook, twitter, calendar or webradio, and these are only some of the possibilities.

Info about the car – includes on-board computer with information on range, average fuel consumption or average speed. Trip computer with departure time, total ride time and distance traveled, etc. The next item is the status of the vehicle where we find out the oil level, tire pressure as well as the need for service and the condition of the car through check control. The last position is the torque distribution, the display shows how the torque in the drive system is distributed while driving.

Settings – this option, apart from standard settings of time, date, language, units of measurement or sound, allows you to customize many systems according to your wishes. Adjustment of temperature and airflow power for the driver and passenger, distribution of seat heating (seat area or back area), ventilation at a standstill. Activating or deactivating the welcome light, high beam assistant, locking the lock after moving off, flashing lights when closing / opening and many more. You can set the trunk opening angle (useful when you have a low garage) or the brightness and height of the head-up display, as well as a warning when exceeding a defined speed.


What does Windows and BMW have in common? Well, the prototype of the iDrive system first saw the light of day in the concept model BMW Z9 in 1999 and it was equipped with Windows CE software for the automotive industry. During the restart, as a result of software suspension (how could this happen :)) the Windows CE logo was displayed.


Below is a video showing the functions of the iDrive system in the BMW X6 (E71).