At the moment, the only BMWs that feature
fully, completely digital gauges are the
BMW i3 and
i8. Even the
BMW 4 Series LCI,
5 Series and
7 Series, which technically have fully digital displays,
use traditional and physical gauge surrounds to create a
more traditional setup. This creates fixed digital gauges
within the screen, so they aren’t really customizable. But
could BMW soon make the switch to fully digital and
customizable instrument panels, like Audi and Mercedes-Benz.
BMW’s chief competition seems to be doing it so it makes sense
for BMW to soon follow suit. Mercedes-Benz was the first to
make the switch, in the S-Class. It actually features two 12″
high-definition screens for its instrument panel and
infotainment screen. It looks good but will likely start to age
a bit quickly, as it’s already starting to look old-fashioned.
Audi’s optional Virtual Cockpit is a masterclass in digital
instrument panels, though. Being that the Virtual Cockpit is
housed in a traditional gauge housing, it doesn’t look
like a tacked-on screen, a la Mercedes. Plus, the graphics are
incredibly slick and the screens are completely customizable.
There’s even a feature that turns the entire screen into a
gigantic Google Maps navigation screen, which looks brilliant.
Right now, BMW’s digital gauges are just that, digital gauges.
They aren’t customizable screens that can completely change
their display to show various forms of information. However,
there is some method to BMW’s madness at the moment. If
you look at the original iPhone, it looks like it’s one hundred
years old. It seems as old as a Motorola Razr. So digital
screens typically don’t age well, as technology advances so
quickly that even modern seeming screens will look ancient in
only a few years time. So with BMW creating what seems like
digital gauges, rather than just a gigantic screen, they might
look better over time.
On the flip-side, though, BMW’s gauges look dated right now,
compared to Audi’s super-slick Virtual Cockpit. While they
might age better over time, right now they seem old-fashioned
and its competitors seem more high-tech. BMW makes up for this
by giving us the best infotainment system and screen in the
business. But Audi and Mercedes-Benz aren’t far off. In fact,
Audi’s MMI system is right up there with BMW’s iDrive.
So I’m wondering if BMW will soon make the switch from just
creating digital gauges to using a fully-customizable screen,
like Audi’s Virtual Cockpit.