BMW Caught Testing Radical New iDrive System

Spy Shots / Comments

It looks a bit like the latest Mercedes system.

The 2 Series Active Tourer became the first front-wheel-drive BMW model when it launched in 2014. While BMW has never offered the Active Tourer in the United States, we do get the mechanically similar BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe, which uses a front-biased all-wheel-drive system. We mention the 2 Series Active Tourer because this Europe-only model is set to be replaced for the 2021 model year, as evidenced by these recent spy shots.

BMW still has no plans to offer the Active Tourer in the US market and based on the shape of these camouflaged prototypes, we aren't missing out on much. But this latest batch of spy shots does reveal an interesting detail of the new 2 Series Active Tourer that could eventually make it to the US: an entirely redesigned iDrive infotainment system.

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BMW iDrive is currently on its seventh generation but these spy shots have us thinking that an eighth iteration could be on the way. This 2 Series Active Tourer prototype uses a dual-screen setup with curved glass that looks completely different than any existing BMW product. There doesn't appear to be a traditional iDrive rotating controller on the center console either, meaning this new system could be entirely based on touch inputs. Even the graphics and icons seem different than the current iDrive interface, looking a lot more like a Mercedes than any BMW we've tested before.

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We've praised the latest Mercedes MBUX system for its pretty design and high level of customizability compared to BMW's iDrive, especially with regards to the gauge cluster display. The 2 Series Active Tourer looks like it will fix many of our complaints with iDrive, including a more customizable gauge cluster display. We are a bit troubled by the lack of physical buttons but perhaps BMW will find a way to make it intuitive. It may be a while before this new interface finds its way into a US-bound BMW product but we imagine that a refresh to the X1 or X2 could include it.

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