New car models offer all kinds of gadgets

Wednesday, August 14th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Most of us are not in the market for a BMW luxury sedan, but there's an innovative feature in the new models that someday may show up in cars we can afford.

News on Six consumer reporter Rick Wells takes I-Drive for a test drive. "I'm gonna lower your head rest, with that button there.” John Patterson has been selling BMWs at Crown Auto World for 12 years who better to show off the new I-drive system on this 745. There is a computer screen in the middle of the dash.

The controller is that knob on the console, with a flick of the wrist you can get into the on board navigation system or climate control, entertainment, any of the 700 I-drive functions. "Slide turn and click, actually you can do English, French or Spanish." See it's versatile and intelligent, and rather than being just another distraction in the car, most functions can be pre-set, before you drive then while you are driving a button on the steering wheel allows you to operate with voice commands. “Radio radio menu. Options. Please say radio on. FM-AM. Station selection or frequency selection."

There's an on-board cell phone, which operates on voice commands too. If you take a call in the car, need to write something down. Just talk to the voice operated note pad, it'll read it back later so you can write it down. "Demonstration with Rick Wells of the 745 Wednesday morning at ten thirty." "You don't have to take your hand off the wheel or your eye's off the road."

If all that computer stuff intimidates you, you can operate the car perfectly well and ignore most of it. He let me get behind the wheel and well after all it is a BMW. "Watch your speed through this construction zone.” "Would you get the ticket or would I get the ticket?""You'd get the ticket." That tone you may have heard was a little warning that I had exceeded a pre-set max speed limit. I-drive was trying to help, but after all I was drivin'.

I-drive is available on the 2002 seven series BMWs. The deluxe sedans range in price from the low $70,000 to the low $80,000.

To find out more, you can visit BMW's web site.