Summary

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BMW Assist

Next up on the ConnectedDrive list is BMW Assist, a service that you'll hope you never need to use. Not because it doesn't work but rather because it's only relevant when something has gone horribly wrong. Essentially, it's an SOS service with a direct link to the emergency services that is automatically triggered in the event of an accident. The system immediately puts a call through to the emergency services using the car's handsfree telephony capability.

If the car's occupants are able to speak, they can communicate details of the accident as usual and request help. If not, the worst is assumed and the emergency services are automatically scrambled. But here's the really clever bit. Details of the car's location, including the direction of travel (that's particularly important for identifying location in the case of a motorway incident) are automatically relayed. In the UK, that's as far as the system goes. In Europe, it's even more sophisticated and includes data describing the severity of the accident and the likelihood of injuries. Nevertheless, it's no doubt a feature that will save lives.

BMW Mobile Care

Closely associated to BMW Assist is the Mobile Care function. Once selected in the menu, users are patched through to a BMW centre dedicated to break down and recovery services. Like the rest of ConnectedDrive, it's a complementary service for three years.

Information Plus

Here, things take a turn into the realms of the slightly surreal. BMW has a dedicated call centre just for ConnectedDrive customers. Once you have selected Information Plus in the iDrive menu, you are connected by voice to the call centre. During the service's core 7am-7pm operating hours, you may then put in pretty much any reasonable request for information. Operatives have full Internet access and will do their best to locate and forward information directly to the car via the MyInfo SendtoCar function.

Outside of these hours, the service piggybacks on the Mobile Care call centre and users may find the service limited to basic Google Local Search, depending on staffing and work loads. How much use Information Plus would be is hard to gauge without prolonged use. But as a free feature it can hardly be a bad thing.

Remote Services

Locking the keys in your can seriously spoil your day. At best you're looking at a long wait that ends with the arrival of a grumpy friend or family member with the spare key. But not with a ConnectedDrive-enabled BMW. Simply call the service centre, allow them to identify you and the car can be remotely unlocked. It's not a feature you'd ever want to use, but boy will you be grateful for it if you do. While we're on the subject of keys, for the record the E90 does not offer keyless go - the remote control key fob must be inserted into the dash.

For the 3 Series, remote unlocking is as far as the system goes. However, it's safe to assume that further features offered by more upmarket BMWs, such as remote operation of climate control in the latest 7 Series, will filter down over time.

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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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