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BMW ConnectedDrive review



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BMW ConnectedDrive
  • BMW ConnectedDrive
  • BMW ConnectedDrive
  • BMW ConnectedDrive
  • BMW ConnectedDrive
  • BMW ConnectedDrive
  • BMW ConnectedDrive
  • BMW ConnectedDrive
  • BMW ConnectedDrive
  • BMW ConnectedDrive


Our Score:



  • A wide range of services, accessible from the driving seat
  • Real-time traffic information, minimising time spent in jams
  • Car is permanently connected, not relying on a smartphone


  • An expensive option when specifying a new BMW car
  • Connectivity still relies on the UK’s sketchy 3G reception
  • Accessing services via screen potentially distracting for driver

Key Features

  • Constantly updated real-time traffic information
  • Music streamed direct to car
  • UK call centre-based concierge service
  • eCall informs emergency services in the event of a crash
  • Syncs with contacts, calendar and email
  • Manufacturer: BMW
  • Review Price: £1,890.00

What is BMW ConnectedDrive?

Car ownership is on the cusp of being revolutionised in the next few years, as cars become connected, using embedded SIMs to communicate with cloud-based-servers.

The first car company to do this on any scale is BMW, which has been embedding 3G SIM cards (with unlimited data roaming in six European countries, supplied by Vodafone) in the telematics system of all new cars built since April of this year.

The embedded SIMs have enabled BMW to offer its ConnectedDrive system – a suite of services, including constantly updated traffic information, concierge services and a wide range of onboard apps – to almost all the cars in its range, if customers want to option it on their new car.

BMW ConnectedDrive

BMW ConnectedDrive: Set up

After taking delivery of your new BMW, you have to first register on the ConnectedDrive portal (https://www.bmw-connecteddrive.co.uk). Once logged in, your personal dashboard features details of your car (or cars, if you own more than one BMW) and two menu headings – My Services and Settings.

My Services has a number of sub-menus that allows the owner to enable access to information from different sources. So, for example, you can plan trips in BMW Routes, choose up to 20 news sources to be sent to the car, import your contacts and establish an individual driver profile that can specify your preferred seat position, car temperature and the information shown in the head-up display. This profile can be saved and exported to the owner’s car(s): even better, if the BMW owner is away from home and hires a BMW as a rental car, they can also export these settings to that vehicle.

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BMW ConnectedDrive

The Settings menu has the usual functions (changing username and password), linking an email account, security settings plus the activation of Remote Services and a smartphone app available from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store that allows you to operate some of the car’s functions from the phone (flashing headlights, locking or unlocking the doors remotely and pre-heating the car).

BMW ConnectedDrive: Performance

The in-car interface of a ConnectedDrive-enabled car is BMW’s iDrive system, based around a rotary controller in the centre console (it is also surrounded by shortcut buttons and incorporates voice control and a touchpad on the top of the controller that allows you to input information by ‘writing’ it with your finger). Information is displayed on a colour LCD display in the dashboard.

The main menu has eight sub-menus (Multimedia, Radio, Telephone, Navigation, Office, ConnectedDrive, Vehicle Information and Settings), which can be accessed by toggling the iDrive controller or, in some cases, using the shortcut buttons. Using the iDrive controller initially requires a little thought, which is not ideal when driving, but you get used to it within a couple of hours (so it’s best done sitting in the car when it’s stationery).

BMW ConnectedDrive

The ConnectedDrive menu contains submenus, including information about servicing, any messages that you will have sent to the car, smartphone apps, web radio plus BMW Online, which features news, weather, email and personalised apps. These onboard apps will become increasingly important, not just within ConnectedDrive, but also to connected car services fitted to other brands’ vehicles. BMW has a ConnectedDrive Store – in effect, its own App Store – that owners can open an account with and, in the next 12 months, download apps from at any time during their ownership of the car.

Also in the ConnectedDrive menu is Info Plus, a 24/7 concierge service that connects you by phone to a ‘personal assistant’ at a dedicated call centre. They can help you with a wide range of information, including finding a restaurant local to where you are at the time, times of airline flights or films at the cinema, or even find a hotel and book a room for you. Any location-based suggestions can also be sent directly to your car’s navigation system.

The Office option is particularly useful for work-related activities, such as accessing your calendar, and sending emails, which you can dictate, have read back, approve and send. The one major drawback with this function at the moment is that it currently doesn’t work with Apple iOS, so if you primarily use the likes of iCal and Mail as your primary productivity apps, ConnectedDrive doesn’t support them. Updates on social media feeds can also be read out by the car.

BMW ConnectedDrive

Navigation is a core service of ConnectedDrive, especially as the car’s embedded SIM enables the car to transmit GPS and speed information to a cloud server and, in return, receive real-time traffic information (RTTI) based on the same data from phones in other cars on the road. This means that you can enter a destination and the car will automatically use the least congested roads en route. We used it on a number of occasions during our time with the car and found it highly effective.

Multimedia includes an Online Entertainment option that currently offers a music streaming service from rara that gives ConnectedDrive users the first unlimited on-demand service in a car, with access to over 28 million tracks. You can search for artists, albums or songs, or choose curated playlists. The system caches three tracks at a time (and then automatically saves them to the car’s hard drive), so there’s no buffering. The system also syncs with rara mobile apps and domestic systems such as Sonos, so you can create new playlists at home, which are then also saved in the car. The only drawback we could find is that the service is only as good as the 3G reception, something a larger cache would help alleviate.

BMW ConnectedDrive


Car owners will soon become more aware of connected capability and see their vehicles as another mobile device. ConnectedDrive’s array of considered and practical services demonstrates that drivers will soon be able to make the most of their time in the car – particularly useful if you’re a high-mileage commuter or business driver.

The big question at this stage of the game, though, is price. The cost of the different media packages that contain ConnectedDrive services vary, according to the model you purchase, but the full package is an £1,890 option. It will increase the resale value of your car, but you won’t get the full amount back. However, the RTTI service is invaluable, minimising the time you’re stuck in traffic jams; the connectivity services will also save you valuable time; and the range of onboard apps designed specifically for in-car use should offer something for everyone.

Overall Score


Prem Desai

July 31, 2014, 1:15 pm

This is really quite cool - wish other manufacturers would follow suit (take note Mercedes).

Ofcourse you won't get the money back - but then that applies to the whole car!! It's about convenience.


September 6, 2014, 9:08 am

All very cool indeed but some features are so badly implemented that you wonder whether they were created by a bunch of IT guys stuck in a cellar and never properly tested in real life. For example, the ability to have email or the news read out loud sounds great. That surely provides a minimum of distraction when driving, right? Well not really as there's no option to read aloud all messages. Each individual email has to be selected, the control knob turned to select "read aloud", ensuring the MAXIMUM of distraction. Why can't I use a voice command to say to skip to my next email message? And the voice output has to be one of the most unnatural I've ever come across. There's many more similar examples of features that could have been so good but have been poorly implemented.

Gunther Costellano

March 24, 2015, 4:11 pm

Good Luck! In my opinion BMW builds a great vehicle to drive, but if you need to the BMW Technology Option you purchased to work with the latest iPhone and IOS software, forget it. The technology package software gets a horrible buggy review. The automobile industry and regulators are doing a terrible job of setting standards in this are and implementing fines for manufactures that do not keep the technology functioning. If they can't get something as simple as phone interfaces working properly, I can't even begin to imagine self driving automobiles.

There seems to be a lack of standards in this area. Our government is quick to issue fines to drivers that use their cell phones while driving, but do little to nothing to mandate automobile manufactures offer reliable hands-free operations. These cities and states are quick to issue fines in the name of safety or is it in the name of generating more revenue? If it was truly about safety then the automobile manufactures would be fined for not keeping their technology working properly.

So far, my ford truck's technology is much more reliable than my BMW, so I only drive my BMW on weekends for fun and not during my busy work week.

We live in a connected world, but the safety features in vehicles are simply not keeping up!

Michael Clohessy

April 18, 2015, 11:45 am

Its complete rubbish most of the stuff they advertise does not work, they promise you the world and when you pay and join you get a concierge service and not much more
hardley anything is up and running, nothing works, dont waste your money and input your destination into your sat nav yourselfe its cheaper


January 11, 2016, 11:19 pm

Not very good at all... Very slow (runs on 3G), only really works with IOS phones, costs lots of money to keep going after 3yrs. only does what your phone does and does it really badly. Google maps is free and traffic info is far better.. Why would I speand £120/yr on something thats better and free elsewhere. Would be nice if you could use your own data from phone.. Never mind, i'll just stick my phone on top of the screen....

Jon Eskdale

February 3, 2016, 2:13 pm

Zavi LTD comments that it runs very slow on 3G, they are lucky if theirs is running on 3G my 2012 Series 5 will only run on 2G so it is very very slow. Otherwise its OK except the renewal cost after 3 yrs is over £200 for someone that only does 4k miles per year that is very expensive - if it was £60 then OK but £210 is beyond a joke.

fb turned into shit in 2006

April 29, 2016, 8:10 pm

Dude, Mercedes NAV sucks. Audi is THE best car, and NAV. Google maps, AWD, and massaging seats. There is an episode of Paris Hilton in her Merc using the nav on a trip and it got her lost and gave wrong directions. BMW over complicates things.

Prem Desai

May 4, 2016, 6:28 pm


Saying that Paris Hilton got lost using a satnav is hardly the satnav's fault - any satnav!!!

Enjoy your car and nav ....


November 5, 2016, 3:31 pm

ITs the worst system atleast in the UK> the website is constantly having problems things dont work! Imagine if they were making aircraft!! :( . Come on BMW expect better !


November 27, 2016, 5:11 pm

It is a disgrace to call it SatNav, no speed limits, no speed cameras, old road works shown after completion of FIVE weeks, so reverted back to my TEN year old Garmin more reliable and cheaper

Facebook User

December 3, 2016, 12:10 pm

I'm still waiting on my dealer to provide specific details on just how the RTTI works. It found none of the 3 local incidents where the road was completely blocked, even though one had been in force for some hours prior to me hitting it. My TomTom with Live Services - apart from the very infrequent times when the servers were down - showed warnings almost before the incident had occurred and offered alternate routes both visually and with audio prompts! And; these were often very minor holdups. So why cannot BMW get on top of remote data collection like others can??

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