BMW iDrive 7 vs iDrive 8

Posted 19th December 2022

BMW iDrive is BMW’s very own infotainment system, also known as an in-car entertainment/communications system, from which you can control many of the car’s onboard features and equipment. The latest generation of the system, iDrive 8, is now rolling out across the BMW range. But what’s the difference between iDrive 8 and the previous iDrive 7 system? We’ve taken a look at the main differences for you.

The Display

Both iDrive 7 and iDrive 8 share a similar setup of a main touch-enabled control display and driver instrument display. However, the display screens themselves are very different. The first thing to note is that iDrive 7 comes in the form of two separate displays which vary slightly in their dimensions across vehicles. 

iDrive 8 is different. First introduced on the BMW iX, it consists of a 12.3 inch instrument display and a 14.9 inch touch-enabled control display. The big difference is that although they are actually two separate displays, they appear as one large, fluid piece. This gives it a considerably different look to that of the clearly separate displays that come equipped with iDrive 7. iDrive 8 brings an even higher resolution display with vibrant graphics and crisp touch navigation. 

8 Series

iDrive 8 maintains the iDrive Controller function in addition to the touch-enabled display, meaning you still have the freedom to alternate between the two depending on preference and the situation. Just make sure to pay close attention to the specification of the vehicle you're purchasing. Whether it be new or used, some vehicles have been affected by parts shortages across recent years which has unfortunately removed the touch function of some iDrive controllers. This is the feature that allows you to draw on the iDrive controller dial using your finger, which can be used to type, alongside other features.

iDrive 7

iDrive 8

The Software

iDrive 7 and iDrive 8 feature different user interfaces. It’ll take a little getting used to if you’re transitioning from one to the other, but you’ll soon appreciate how fantastic both systems are. A perfect balance between being featured-filled but also user friendly, there’s a reason why BMW’s iDrive has always been held in such high regard.

One of the more significant changes to note is the migration of climate control settings from physical buttons to within the iDrive 8 software itself. There is now a climate control menu which can be accessed through the display. This contributes to a more minimalistic interior design in comparison to vehicles featuring iDrive 7. All features remain just as they were, but are instead now adjusted through the climate control menu which is just one touch away. If you ever wish to enable a feature on your car, such as High Beam Assistant or Active Cruise Control, that wasn’t initially purchased, iDrive 8 makes this significantly easier. Without the need for physical buttons, as long as your vehicle has the required hardware onboard, you can enable such features via subscription or an outright one-time purchase. 

IDrive 8 Driving Modes

iDrive 8 certainly offers an even greater level of customisation for the driver. My Modes now allows up to 10 different customisable presets so that you can quickly switch up the vehicle’s driving characteristics whenever you feel like it. The well known Eco Pro, Comfort and Sport driving modes have also been replaced by Efficient, Sport and Personal. These are very similar but allow for further customisation yet again.

With iDrive 8, BMW Intelligent Virtual Assistant and Gesture Control have also received some upgrades. Both systems are also integrated so that Gesture Control can be used to interact with the Intelligent Virtual Assistant.

Great Entrance Moments makes getting into your BMW an even greater joy thanks to new screen animations and light displays upon approaching and entering your vehicle. If you’re a tech fan you’ll certainly appreciate these new features from iDrive 8. We won’t give too much away - you best experience it for yourself!

There’s been a variety of other updates including a refreshed head-up display and even better in-car navigation. The overall layout of iDrive 8 is also easier to navigate this time around thanks to a simplified home page and menu layout.

iDrive 8


iDrive 7 has been around for many years now and is regarded as one of the best infotainment systems on the market. While iDrive 8 is still very new to much of the BMW lineup, it builds upon the success of iDrive 7 while adding helpful new additions that don’t take away from the brilliant foundations built by the previous generation. Many areas have been adapted and upgraded to improve the user experience. 

We highly recommend stopping by one of our Dick Lovett BMW centres in Bristol, Hungerford, Melksham (near Bath) or Swindon to explore iDrive 7, iDrive 8 or both systems for yourself. Our teams would be delighted to answer any further questions you may have. Alternatively, you can get in touch by using the button below.

Contact us

For more information, please contact Dick Lovett BMW:

Bristol - 01173 216 725

Hungerford - 01488 853 606

Melksham - 01225 562 706

Swindon - 01793 393 757

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