I’m a stickler for good infotainment systems because you interact with them so frequently. When our long-term 2020 BMW 228i xDrive Gran Coupe arrived, I immediately explored the latest iDrive system just to see how it’s evolved. Older versions of BMW’s iDrive had notoriously steep learning curves, forcing you to spend hours learning the basics. Has the newest iteration gotten any easier?
The latest version of iDrive in the 2020 BMW 228i xDrive Gran Coupe features a responsive 10.3-inch touchscreen angled towards the driver. That alone is responsible for making iDrive less distracting and simpler to use than before. BMW retained the knob and button controls on the center console but after spending time using it exclusively, the touchscreen remains the most intuitive way to interact with the system. A new menu layout reminiscent of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto with shortcuts conveniently placed on the left side for easy reach from the driver’s seat further minimizes complication.
My favorite addition to iDrive is the built-in Spotify app, which is perfect if you prefer the native interface instead of the app on CarPlay Pairing your account is easy: scan the on-screen QR code and confirm on your phone. You can now listen to your favorite tunes without having to look at your mobile device to change playlists or artists. Downsides? There doesn’t seem to be a way to play your music offline, even when you download them via Spotify Premium. Otherwise, the built-in Spotify app gives you more entertainment options, which is especially helpful during long road trips.
BMW’s latest iDrive makes a big leap forward in user-friendliness. Between the simplified menu layout and the lightning quick touchscreen, you’ll get used to this system in minutes, not hours or days. The only thing left to try is wireless Android Auto, which is scheduled to arrive later this year via an over-the-air update. Let’s hope it doesn’t freeze or crash as much as wireless Apple CarPlay (the only way to use CarPlay in the 228i) does.