Sunday – The Square Joystick

cropped-is-300h-f-sport-dyn-15-dpl-2013.jpgRemember when BMW introduced the infamous iDrive system in their cars? Ooh there was a fuss. Hated by both technophobes and those with conventional hands alike, BMW stuck with it. After a period of ‘refinement’ it’s now a relatively straightforward joystick for the navigation, media and telephone functions alike.

Lexus has a similar type of system in the IS but for some reason it has an oblong joystick, rather than round. That’s oblong in the sense that it’s not that easy to hold, or actually operate for that matter. This morning I was clicking through the screen options and found my cursor skipping all over the place.

It makes a sympathetic ‘bing’ when you want to connect, annoying but I’m sure you can switch it off. It’s my least favourite feature – that and the rather cheap looking centre console in the SE. I mean, this is a luxurious business car but it just doesn’t marry with the rest of the interior design, which is a cut above.

Apparently, the cockpit was inspired by the limited edition and very cool Lexus LFA. At least its bigger than previous IS cars, thanks to a wider wheelbase.

Sunday – Model of Refinement


The X1 sits just a couple of inches higher than a 1 Series hatchback and it drives more car-like than SUV too. The steering is well weighted and precise (although some might find it heavy) – the brakes offer lots of feel and are reassuringly firm on the pedal.

I’ve been trying to find the X1’s Achilles Heel but I’m struggling to be honest. I can’t remember the last time I was disappointed by a BMW and the X1 is cut from the same cloth.

Everything inside the cabin is tasteful and beautifully laid out. Refinements to the rotary-controlled iDrive system mean there is no longer much need to reach for the handbook when you want to adjust the entertainment or sat nav system either.

For a small car with raised suspension, it’s remarkably comfortable. The seats are manually adjusted but with a bit of playing round you will find the perfect driving position, which leaves plenty of room for two passengers in the back as well.

Of course, all those extras fitted to our test car are expensive in a BMW – so choose you model and spec it up carefully. I can recommend the panoramic sunroof though.



Saturday – Toys For Boys


Jeremy It’s cold, wet and almost halfway through April. The only good news is that Lewis Hamilton is on pole for the Chinese Grand Prix. Ever wondered what a Formula 1 racing driver does when they are sat in on the grid for endless minutes before the start?

I asked ex-driver Martin Brundle the same question a few months back – he told me it was all about focus and concentration. At least when I’m stuck in a traffic jam, the 6 Series has plenty to keep me entertained.

This morning, I discovered the iDrive infotainment system can log on to the internet when the car is stationary. You can then use Google Earth information to request photographs of any destination you have keyed into the satellite navigation system. How clever is that?

The sat nav screen can be split to show a route on one side, and other information on the other – or you can have one giant screen showing the route instead.

Of all the information on tap, my favourite has to be the car status page, which uses a picture of the BMW and numbered areas around the bodywork. Select a number and you can clock through to everything from tyre pressures to the windscreen washer bottle level.

Sadly, there is nothing to adjust the miserable British weather, so the Convertible   may be collected before we can really enjoy the power hood and sunshine and report back.