Head-Up Display - 2014 BMW 328i xDrive Gran Turismo Long-Term Road Test

2014 BMW 328i xDrive Gran Turismo Long-Term Road Test

2014 BMW 328i xDrive Gran Turismo: Head-Up Display

April 1, 2014

2014 BMW 328i xDrive Gran Turismo

I'm becoming a fan of head-up displays. Our 2014 Mazda3 has one that I like quite a bit. And the HUD on this new 2014 BMW 328i GT is pretty great, too.

They're similar in that both show speed, cruise control set speed and next-turn information if a navigation route is active. Mazda uses a single color for all of these elements while BMW uses at least three.

Both have similar settings for elevation and brightness in their respective iDrive controllers. Mazda doesn't call theirs iDrive, of course, but the knob and the on-screen HUD menu choices (including off, for certain colleagues that think I'm nuts) is strikingly similar.

The display surface itself is where the two really differ. The Mazda projects its info through a small aperture onto a thin plastic screen that flips up when the car is started. This BMW has a large dashtop opening that shines directly onto the windshield.

I'm not bothered by the Mazda approach, but the BMW layout works great, too.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 5,256 miles


  • hybris hybris Posts:

    How hard is the large opening to clean?

  • ocramidajzj ocramidajzj Posts:

    I believe the windshield on the BMW is specially designed to support the reflected HUD. Probably too expensive a part to make and/or replace at the Mazda price point/customer expectation.

  • bimmerjay bimmerjay Posts:

    I really love this HUD. It dims automatically and also changes from the amber (shown) to white based on the lighting conditions. Not shown here are the many other things it can display, like the current speed limit from the sign-reading camera (if equipped with Driver Assistance Plus, which Edmunds' car is not), other warnings like a flat tire, door ajar or collision warning, and entertainment details like the presets or song list from the active media source. That menu pops up when you use the steering wheel controls. iDrive lets you configure as much or as little info that you want shown.

  • mlin32_ mlin32_ Posts:

    One pet peeve I have about the Mazda displays in general is the typeface/font that seems to be from the 1980s computer era. BMW and most German automakers (and Ford in some instances) have text font on their HUD and board computers in the instrument panel that is modern, clean, and easy to read. Small detail but honestly I can't imagine how much it would cost for Mazda to incorporate better-looking displays on their instrument panels and on their lower-cost HUD in the Mazda3.

  • ocramidajzj, I don't know if it is part of the windshield or a separate item but BMW does say " that beams an easy-to-read, high-contrast image onto a translucent film on the windscreen, directly in your line of sight. "

  • I haven't driven a car with a HUD so I'm curious, does it take some getting used to so that it doesn't distract? I see the benefit of having it more in the line of sight but in general driving I don't always need to know the exact speed I'm going and even on cars with regular dashes find having large numbers change continually to take some getting used to. I guess after awhile it would be something you'd only look at when you needed the info but it would seem at the start to be something my brain would want to pay more attention to then it should

  • actualsize actualsize Posts:

    It doesn't distract me one bit. The HUD feels entirely natural. It only enhances by reducing downward glances. Nothing that's displayed up there changes very quickly -- you don't need to study it for any length of time. Of course there are some in this office that disagree with me, but they tend to drive in very high-traffic environments in the city. Frankly, I don't see how that would make matters worse. It should be even MORE helpful, I should think. Some people just don't like new things, I suppose.

  • actualsize actualsize Posts:

    The opening is large and somewhat unattractive from outside if you're the type that's into dashboards. At least you don't see this big zit of a bezel from the driver's seat, which I can't say for some GM HUDs I've seen. I have not yet tried to clean it, but it doesn't seem too hard. Not sure about the corners down there, though. However, since I posted this I have seen a weird and off-putting windshield reflection of the bezel around the opening when the sun was in just the right position, and it persisted for several minutes until I turned. Mazda's flip-up screen should be immune to this, I think. And good point about replacement windshields. I'm not sure if brand-X replacement glass would diminish the HUD experience all that much or not. I'll keep this in mind if this windshield ever suffers a crack.

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