I had the opportunity to step into the BMW 520d touring. I know, you would say “what are you doing in a station wagon”, Yes I am saying that too. But I had the car packed with all the features worth bragging about. So where do I start?
The redesigned instrument panel look more slick and expensive. The speedometer is completely digital, so it is packed with features, and customisable as well on what you want to display, whether you want to have everything, or more simplistic.
2. Console with gesture control
The Console is a touch panel, and also supports gesture control. For example you point your finger towards the console and rotate it to the left to turn down the volume, and rotate the the right to turn the volume up. Pointing with 2 fingers toward the console will play next (next radio station or next song), it is a pity you can’t go previous. You can also swipe to the left to cancel an action (this one is a bit clunky).
3. Dynamic cruise control with lane keeping assistant
This is probably the feature I like the most. At the flick of a button on the steering wheel, the one that have a picture of a steering wheel will activate the lane keeping assistant, basically you can take off your hand and the car will take over turning left or right as long as there is a guiding lines on the road. This combine with the active cruise control, make you want to take your eyes off the road. You can practically takes your hands off the steering wheel, the car will steer itself, and with active cruise control you can take your legs off the gas and brake as well. So it is almost an auto pilot. But the car will complain if you didn’t touch the steering wheel for a long time. Just make sure you pay attention as this feature can disengage when the car can’t detect any line marking any longer or crossing the intersection. It automatically disengage when you activate the turning indicator as well, so use with care.
The Parking assistant feature is now had added function which allows you to steer the car remotely via a remote control. You need to have this remote to be able to move the car into a tight parking spot. I haven’t play around with this feature much, as it is quite daunting to move the car using the touch screen while holding one button on the right of the remote. Response is also a bit lag, so no James Bond style remote driving yet. I am also not sure what happen if it detect object or you park slightly slanting whether the car self corrected or not. I will have to play more with this feature when I had the chance.
Finally, wireless charging is included, and you can not only charge your phone, but also the remote control. However I find that the wireless charging resulting very hot phone, and I have an iPhone. This will need to be addressed in future release. It almost burn the RFID card that I attached to the back of the phone (not good).
6. Apple Car play
This is the first time I use the Apple Car play feature, it is good and bad at the same time. Good means that it allows you to use the phone apps (limited number of them), calling become a pain as you need to now fiddle around the Apple Car play or touching the console screen.But this can be turned off so that you refer back to the usual way of calling using the button on the steering wheel, but you also lost the car play. The good things with the car play, you can get it to read your messages and reply to it by talking, listening to podcast, and switching form one app to the others, like Spotify and Music.
Given that the car have 5 cameras, it is able to capture it surrounding when parked. You have to activate this via the Connected drive app, the default view is the BMW Welt in Munich, and once you capture the image, it will get stitch together to form a 3D image of the surrounding. The second photos shows how it looks.
You can rotate the car to see the surrounding view, presumably if you know there is someone trying to steal your car you can take a photos of them too, assuming your car can alert you and give you a chance to snap their photos.
Despite all the goodness that comes with the car, there is always room for improvement. Some of them are:
- The programmable buttons looks cheap and not very responsive, there are times that I press the button and it doesn’t register
- the 3D image capture is quite slow, and sometimes it might fail taking snapshot
- The remote control is lag to be able to drive a car like a toy (probably intended)
- Wireless charger gets the phone really hot even for a 30 minutes drive
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