Since its inception in 2001 with the E65 7 Series, BMW iDrive has been a cornerstone of BMW vehicles. Like everything else in the upcoming Neue Klasse, iDrive takes a significant step forward. The most advanced version of iDrive yet features a logical progression from the current version but takes leaps forward in some areas. Here’s what you can expect from the next generation of iDrive in the Neue Klasse.

Neue Klasse iDrive: Four Central Elements

BMW sums up the future of BMW iDrive in four core pieces. The first is BMW Panoramic Vision. This new display replaces the traditional gauge cluster, instead utilizing the bottom of the windshield. It’s configurable and displays essential information like charge level and vehicle speed. The second portion is the new Central Display. This one is fairly obvious – the center stack has been redesigned, and that includes the screen. Third is the new steering wheel, providing buttons with haptic feedback that control numerous functions in Panoramic Vision. The head-up display is the final pillar of iDrive in the Neue Klasse vehicles.

BMW Panoramic Vision

Panoramic Vision allows BMW to free up space where a gauge cluster traditionally goes. It stretches the width of the windshield with relevant data. Think of things like current speed, active media, vehicle stats, and more. They’re displayed as they normally would be on a gauge cluster. It doesn’t obscure anything from the driver’s view, only occupying the space where the hood is visible. The information displayed, colors, and style are configurable and shared with the center screen.

Redesigned Center Screen for Neue Klasse iDrive

The Neue Klasse iDrive version is heavily based on the current architecture, retaining a familiar and configurable layout. Like on the current iDrive system, it’s widget-focused, and you can drag some of these widgets to the Panoramic Vision display. Perhaps most notably, there is no longer an iDrive controller available. The screen is now only controllable via touch and voice. In-car gaming and video streaming will appear here as they will on the BMW i5 this year. Matrix backlighting ensures a crisp resolution, vibrant colors, and dynamic contrast.

A New Multifunction Steering Wheel

The new steering wheel features a shape reminiscent of what we see today on vehicles like the 7 Series and 5 Series. But it offers a lot more usability. It can customize both the Panoramic display and the head-up display. BMW says this is in accordance with their ‘eyes on the road, hands on the wheel’ principle. Multilayer technology and haptic feedback make the operation precise and convenient, so they say, but we won’t really know until we get our hands on it.

BMW 3D Head-Up Display

The BMW 3D head-up display projects animated displays, necessary information, and more onto the windshield in the Neue Klasse. Like the current head-up display, info is projected into the driver’s field of view, reducing distractions. It’s a natural complement to the Panoramic Vision display and central display, keeping drivers more focused than ever before.

BMW says that the new BMW iDrive “enables a completely new intuitive interaction paradigm between driver and vehicle.” The lack of a traditional gauge cluster makes the interior seem a bit more open and certainly more futuristic. Only time will tell if the system is more intuitive. Aside from the Panoramic Vision feature – clearly a step forward – the Neue Klasse iDrive system seems purely evolutionary, keeping a consistent user interface and functionality from the cars sold today. If it ain’t broke, marginally improve it.