2014 BMW 328i xDrive Gran Turismo: iDrive Is My Favorite Infotainment Interface
November 3, 2014
If you polled our editors about which luxury automaker's infotainment interface they like best, I don't know if you'd get a majority opinion. Personal preference plays a large part. But spending some time with our long-term 2014 BMW 328i Gran Turismo has reminded me that, of the current systems, I like BMW's iDrive the best.
The main reason is that iDrive's menu structure is logical to me. With the left-to-right flow of more in-depth options combined with the scrolling and clicking action of the knob, I am able to find what I want without having to do a lot of potentially frustrating searching. The tool tip explanations for what certain icons represent are useful, too. On the downside, it does seem to take a few more inputs to controller knob sometimes to get what I want compared to, say, Mercedes' COMAND. But that's a trade-off I'll take.
I also like the feel of the knob itself in my hand. The newest iDrive knob with the touchpad on top, in particular, feels solid and easy to use because of its larger size. The surrounding set of physical buttons provide just enough on-screen menu shortcuts without taking up too much space or adding clutter. Of course, there's a lot of underlying functionality and feature content of iDrive that I appreciate, too.
The tricky part is that my opinion has come about only by spending quality time with our test cars and their infotainment systems. From a car-shopping standpoint, it's probably going to be hard to figure out which interface you like best. A lot of little details or preferences only come out with longer amounts of time that might not be possible during a vehicle test-drive at a dealer. But we do have an article titled "How To Test-Drive Car Technology" that provides some helpful tips on getting the most out of your dealership test-drive for evaluating these systems.
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 17,403 miles