2016 BMW 340i: Front Cameras Foil Ambushes
by Jonathan Elfalan, Senior Road Test Editor on July 8, 2016
Thanks to the miracle of digital cameras, the need for well-honed, organic spatial awareness has faded for new and/or developing drivers. Backup cameras will be mandated on all new vehicles beginning 2018, and many manufacturers have already gone far and beyond future regulations, just as our long-term 2016 BMW 340i has.
While my personal beliefs rest in requiring people to learn how to drive with as few electronic crutches as possible, there are a few driving scenarios where the technology provides safety benefits beyond a driver's skill or experience.
In addition to the Driver Assistance package ($950), which includes a rearview camera and sonar park distance control, we also have the Driver Assistance Plus package ($1,700) that among other useful fender-saving features, adds more cameras — two in the side-view mirrors and two in the front bumper.
The 360-degree simulated top view, which looks like a satellite video feed from the movie Enemy of the State, is nice to have and especially invaluable for the spatially challenged. But for me, the front-side-view cameras provide the most benefit for drivers across the board.
If you're trying to find lane markings backing into a parking spot, side-view mirrors are still pretty effective. But to peek around a corner to see if a pedestrian, vehicle or other hazard is approaching, is far more difficult. It becomes a game of how-far-can-I-poke-my-nose-out-until-something-happens, and it's not that fun.
With the nose cameras, there's no guessing. They even have virtual markers that approximate how far your bumper is from the danger zone.
Jonathan Elfalan, Senior Road Test Editor @ 4,962 miles