BMW 330d M Sport with ConnectedDrive - ConnectedDrive - MyInfo

By Jeremy Laird

Reviewed:

Summary

What, therefore, is ConnectedDrive? Well, one thing it's not, in the UK at least, is full Internet access. The hardware as fitted to the facelifted E90 3 Series does support Internet browsing. But currently this feature is exclusive to the German market. According to BMW's UK ConnectedDrive guru, Ian Munday, the German system connects to a proprietary server which reformats web pages for the iDrive interface. Consequently, it's not a simple case of flicking a switch and enabling access for UK cars. Munday says he expects full Internet access to become part of the UK ConnectedDrive package no later than the third quarter of 2010.

Hardware wise, ConnectedDrive consists of a 2.5G network adapter compatible with EDGE-based cellular networks. That right, folks. There's no 3G connectivity. By default, ConnectedDrive logs onto the T-Mobile network but can also access Vodafone and O2. Orange is the only network with which it won't tango due to its lack of support for GPS location forwarding. Of course, all of this is pretty academic to the ConnectedDrive owner. It all happens invisibly - the car has its own SIM built into the dash but there are no bills to pay for the ConnectDrive service for the first three years following purchase.

Arguably the most intriguing feature in ConnectedDrive is MyInfo. It's part of a user profile that not only resides in the car itself but also in the form of a web-accessible interface. In the long run BMW intends for these profiles to be fully portable between cars. Already, on the latest 7 Series it's possible to download profiles including parameters such as seat positions onto a USB key. You can then plop yourself into another Seven and sit back as it configures the car for your physical and environmental edification. Very clever stuff indeed.

The system on the 3 Series isn't quite so sophisticated, but it still has some seriously funky features. Our favourite is known as SendtoCar. Superficially, it's a simple concept: sending messages to the car via the cellular connection. In practice, it's an incredibly powerful feature. The idea is that you use either BMW's dedicated ConnectedDrive web portal or Google Maps to send location data to the car from a PC or other web-enabled device.

To take Google Maps as our example, simply fire up Google Maps on a PC and find the required location or destination in the usual manner. Then, in the white dialogue box that pops up over the target location, select "Send" and then "Car". Next choose BMW from the list of supported manufacturers (which you won't be surprised to hear currently only includes BMW), following which you input your BMW ConnectedDrive login details. Along with the location, you can add further information including phone numbers and general text notes. Finally, hit send and marvel as the data magically finds its way to your BMW parked outside.

Once inside the car, the info appears as a message both in the BMW Online Services menu and in the telephony subsection. You can review the details and then transfer the location information to the navigation system with a click of a button. In other words, instead of the usual tedium of in-car sat-nav programming that punctuates the beginning of so many journeys, simply set everything up from the ease and comfort of your home or office computer before hopping into the car and rolling out immediately.

It's particularly useful for days when you have multiple appointments. We speak from experience when we say a day spent house hunting with ConnectedDrive is an absolute breeze. Simply send out a message for each appointment including the time, location and the contact involved and away you go. The system also supports journeys with multiple waypoints.

Of course, Google isn't sending this data direct to the car. It merely sends the data to BMW's ConnectedDrive server, which then forwards it to the car. But you get the idea. BMW has its own online mapping application on the ConnectedDrive web portal which does much the same job.

Steve

April 28, 2009, 1:16 pm

A hideously looking monstrosity of a car. BMW's of late look absolutely vile! And don't get me started on the X6....

Riyad

April 28, 2009, 5:44 pm

@Steve - You’ll get no argument from me, I think that the 3 Series saloon is an ugly beast. Although at least the rear light clusters on this facelift model aren’t as rank as the ones on the original. Of course my trusty coder Rich will argue to the death that the 3 Series saloon is stunning, but at least he’s otherwise sane.





Personally I just can’t believe how big the 3 Series is now. The 1 Series coupe is about the size that the E30 3 Series coupe was! There’s no denying that the technology that BMW is squeezing into its cars is pretty impressive though.

MarioM

April 28, 2009, 7:24 pm

Regarding Information Plus - I'm sure that Fiat had something like this about five or six years ago in the Stilo. Anybody remember? If you went for the satnav option and installed a simcard, you could press some sort of 'Help' button and be put through to a call centre where they could send e.g. a local hotel (or garage more like) to your Nav.


Or am I dreaming again? If not, it's surprising how long it takes for tech to make it's way through cars...

Chris

April 28, 2009, 10:27 pm

@Mario: Sounds like you're thinking of SmartNav. That's not particularly new or impressive technology and it's not confined to Fiat. It's not quite the same thing either. If you asked the SmartNav lady for the atomic weight of Boron, she'd probably hang up on you whereas a BMW lady would kindly oblige.


The closest I've heard of is the 'concierge' service that used to come with a VW Phaeton, although that was more for restaurant reservations, theatre tickets and the like.

ChrisC

April 28, 2009, 10:58 pm

I still think the previous generation 3 series looks far more 'premium' that the current version. The interiors have always been solid but at the same time looked a little old fashioned too, eg. the dials haven't changed much over the years. However, you just can't argue with the way they drive, they are all excellent cars (begrudgingly even the X5 & X6, for what they are), and the latest generation of diesel engines are in a league of their own, returning some amazing Co2 results alongside some serious performance figures.





Anyway, there has to be a point when all this tech gets distracting to the driver, but then seeing as we spend more and more time stuck in traffic jams, having lots of functionality might actually help preserve our sanity!!

Mark Peter

April 28, 2009, 11:49 pm

"open out the iDrive platform" - now there's a thought. It's one thing to brick your iphone with a dodgy app but messing up your traction control system opens up whole ranges of interesting possibilities...

Chris

April 29, 2009, 3:48 pm

@ChrisC: The facelift gives it a far more 'premium' look. The new creases in the bonnet lend some aggression and the new rear and light clusters are far more distinctive. The previous rear clusters were ripped straight from a Mitsubishi Charisma, the most inaptly named car in history.





Also, look out for some impressive new diesel engines from Mercedes and Jaguar. Merc's new 4-cyl C250 CDI does 0-60 in 7.1, returns 'over 50 mpg' and pumps out 138g/km CO2.

Jim Fulton

April 30, 2009, 1:31 am

I drive an 07 335d Coupe, with the earlier generation iDrive. I agree with a lot Jeremy says, I went for upgraded speakers and they make a big difference to the sound, much cheaper than the horrendously expensive Harmon Kardon option. As for the quoted range, you'll find that a bit optimistic. 600-650 miles, certainly, I manage around 500-550 in the 335d at a steady 75-80 on a long run.





Agree with Chris, the new Jaguar XF engine with the twin turbodiesel is getting great reviews, must be worth a look.

Rich 42c5

May 1, 2009, 7:53 pm

A stunning, stunning car. I'd hit it

rpmoore

July 27, 2010, 5:43 pm

Thanks for the great info on connected drive. I have just bought a new F10 5 series that includes the same system, and was looking for more in depth tech info that you described.





Overall it is a great system, I am just waiting until the third party hackers start on it so we get things like custom POI (speed cameras) for the NAV, video interface for iPod etc.

Newty

June 3, 2013, 10:39 am

Beautiful car man

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