BMW iDrive 6: Comprehensive Overview and Key Features

Understanding BMW iDrive 6

When it comes to BMW’s infotainment systems, the iDrive 6 stands out as one of their most advanced and user-friendly offerings. As a BMW owner, you’ll appreciate the seamless integration of features and the improved interface. In this section, we’ll explore some of the key features and benefits of the iDrive 6 system found in many modern BMW vehicles.

The BMW iDrive 6 boasts a cleaner and more intuitive interface, compared to its predecessors. With customizable tiles and improved graphics, you can expect a visually appealing experience as seen in this video. Navigation is made simpler, allowing you to access essential functions quickly. In addition, the iDrive 6 comes equipped with natural language voice recognition to make your interactions even more convenient.

One notable upgrade in the iDrive 6 system is the integration of wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. This allows you to connect your smartphone to the iDrive system without the need for cables, adding an extra level of convenience. Keep in mind that not all iDrive 6 systems have touchscreen capability, as some models are equipped with iDrive 6 “lite” – a software update that maintains the look and feel of iDrive 6 without the touchscreen feature as mentioned here.

Beyond smartphone integration, the iDrive 6 offers a suite of advanced features to aid your driving experience, such as real-time traffic updates and 3D maps. This ensures you are well-guided during your journeys and helps you avoid potential traffic issues. Additionally, the system can be updated over-the-air, allowing you to keep your iDrive 6 system up-to-date without the need for a physical visit to the dealership.

In summary, the BMW iDrive 6 offers a user-friendly interface, smartphone integration, and advanced driving aids to make your time behind the wheel more enjoyable and efficient. As a BMW owner, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with this innovative system and take advantage of its rich feature set to enhance your driving experience.

BMWs Equipped with iDrive 6

BMW iDrive 6 is an advanced infotainment system found in a range of BMW vehicles. This section will focus on the BMW X Series, specifically the X5 and X6 models, which come equipped with iDrive 6.

The X Series


The BMW X5 is a luxury, mid-size SUV that offers a powerful engine, elegant design, and an upscale cabin. One of the standout features of the X5 is its iDrive 6 infotainment system which provides seamless control over various vehicular functions, such as:

  • Climate control
  • Audio system
  • Navigation system
  • Communication system

To determine if your BMW X5 has iDrive 6, you can check the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). Typically, X5 models produced after 2017 are equipped with iDrive 6.


The BMW X6 is a luxury, mid-size crossover SUV with a sleek coupe-like design. Apart from its eye-catching style, the X6 is known for its powerful performance and advanced technology features, one of which is the iDrive 6 infotainment system. Like the X5, the iDrive 6 in the BMW X6 offers control over:

  • Climate control
  • Audio system (radio and CD player)
  • Navigation system
  • Communication system

BMW X6 models produced from 2017 onwards typically come with the iDrive 6 system. To verify the presence of iDrive 6 in your X6, you can refer to the VIN as well.

When using the iDrive 6 system, you’ll find that its interface is clear and user-friendly, making your driving experience more enjoyable. Additionally, iDrive 6 has been praised for being well-integrated with BMW vehicles and providing a smooth user experience.

iDrive 6 Features

Screen and Interface

With the BMW iDrive 6 system, you’ll experience an intuitive interface that features a high-resolution screen and a responsive menu layout. The screen can be easily controlled through the iDrive controller located on the center console or by the touch control feature, allowing you to effortlessly access the various features and settings of the iDrive 6 system. You’ll also have the option to use gesture control, which allows you to perform certain actions with simple hand gestures in front of the screen.

The system’s graphical user interface is designed to deliver a smooth user experience, with easy-to-navigate menus and customizable settings. You can personalize your display according to your preferences with the “My Modes” feature, which includes efficient, sport, and personal modes.


The iDrive 6 system offers an advanced navigation system that provides clear, high-quality map displays and real-time traffic information for your convenience. This navigation system professional uses the built-in sim card to obtain the latest data, ensuring accurate route planning and avoiding delays. The system also integrates with BMW’s Connected Drive service, providing access to traffic updates, parking information, and more.

Voice control is another essential feature of the iDrive 6 navigation system, allowing you to input destinations and access important information while keeping your hands on the wheel. This powerful feature lets you safely and efficiently navigate your way through destinations, ensuring a seamless driving experience.

Infotainment Systems

The iDrive 6 infotainment system offers a wide range of features, including radio, climate control, and BMW app integration. You can easily manage your vehicle’s climate settings, adjusting temperature and air flow directly from the iDrive interface. The various radio options allow you to listen to your favorite stations and toggle between entertainment sources such as satellite radio or music streaming apps.

The system also features the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant, which allows for seamless integration and control of your smartphone. With this feature, you can access your favorite apps, receive notifications, and make hands-free calls without taking your eyes off the road. Furthermore, the iDrive 6 system includes an Android screen mirroring option, enabling you to use specific apps directly on your car’s display.

By incorporating the iDrive 6 system into your BMW, you’ll have access to a variety of cutting-edge features that will greatly improve your driving experience, providing you with unparalleled connectivity and convenience while on the road.

Upgrading Your iDrive

Upgrading your BMW iDrive 6 system can provide you with improved performance and access to the latest features. In this section, we’ll discuss how to upgrade your BMW iDrive system, including the software update process for both iDrive and MGU.

First, it’s important to determine if your BMW needs an iDrive software update. You can check this by accessing the menu in your BMW and selecting “My Car,” followed by “Settings,” “General Settings,” and then “Remote Software Upgrade.” If “Remote Software Upgrade” is displayed, you can proceed with the upgrade process1.

The BMW ConnectedDrive software update can be done remotely, without the need to bring your vehicle to a dealership. Simply connect your car to a Wi-Fi network, and follow the on-screen instructions to download and install the latest software version.

If your BMW has an MGU (Media Graphics Unit), you may be wondering if an upgrade is possible. Upgrading the MGU can further enhance the functionality and performance of your iDrive system. However, the process of upgrading an MGU is different from the iDrive software update. It may involve additional components or software updates that are not available through the standard BMW ConnectedDrive updates. In this case, you should consult with a qualified BMW technician or specialist to assist with the MGU upgrade.

Remember, regularly updating your BMW iDrive software can help ensure that you have access to the latest navigation, infotainment, and safety features. It can enhance your driving experience, making it more enjoyable and convenient.

So, take the time to check if your BMW iDrive 6 needs an update, and follow the steps provided to enhance your car’s performance and user experience.

Understanding ConnectedDrive

BMW’s ConnectedDrive is a collection of connected car services designed to enhance the driving experience and seamlessly integrate your vehicle into your life. As a BMW owner, you will benefit from a wide range of communication and connected services that make your journeys more enjoyable and efficient.

ConnectedDrive uses your car’s internet connection and phone, watch, and speaker applications to interact with your vehicle remotely. These services enable you to stay up-to-date on your vehicle’s status, such as charging progress, tire pressure, fuel and battery levels, and more, all from the convenience of your smartphone.

With the My BMW App, you can remotely lock, unlock, and locate your vehicle using Remote Services. Additionally, this connectivity allows you to navigate with ease, ensuring that you always know the best routes to reach your destination in the quickest and most efficient manner.

ConnectedDrive not only focuses on communication with your vehicle but also emphasizes seamless integration with other in-car technologies. For instance, BMW’s iDrive infotainment system comes equipped with ConnectedDrive, enabling you to access multimedia, navigation, and communication services effortlessly while on the road.

In summary, ConnectedDrive serves as a bridge between your BMW and your life, providing you with a connected and enhanced driving experience. By utilizing these services, you will discover new levels of convenience, communication, and connectivity with your BMW.

Utilizing Apple CarPlay with iDrive

Setting up Apple CarPlay in your BMW equipped with iDrive 6 is a seamless process that enables you to enjoy various smartphone features while driving. To get started, you need an iPhone 5 or newer, running on iOS 9.3 or higher, and an active data plan. Ensure that your device’s Siri, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth capabilities are turned on (source).

To set up Apple CarPlay, first connect your iPhone to the car’s USB port using a certified Lightning cable. On your iDrive 6 screen, go to the “My Vehicle” menu, select “iDrive Settings,” then “Connections,” and finally “Connect New Device.” Choose “Apple CarPlay” from the list of available options. If prompted, also select the intended functions for your mobile device, such as Telephone and Bluetooth audio. Your iPhone will now appear in the device list (source).

For those with older BMW models or vehicles without CarPlay support, you can opt for the CarPlay MMI Prime retrofit. This aftermarket solution adds CarPlay and other features to your BMW without compromising the factory iDrive system. Installation typically requires professional assistance, but once it’s done, you can enjoy the full functionality of Apple CarPlay on your iDrive screen.

When Apple CarPlay is connected, you can access various apps and features directly from your iDrive screen. Use Apple Maps for navigation, make phone calls, send and receive text messages, and even ask Siri for assistance. You can also enjoy Apple Music, podcasts, and audiobooks, or use third-party apps like Spotify and Waze.

To switch between CarPlay and iDrive, press the “Menu” button on your iDrive controller or select the BMW logo within the CarPlay interface. This will return you to the iDrive home screen, allowing you to access vehicle functions and settings without disconnecting CarPlay.

In summary, integrating Apple CarPlay with your BMW iDrive 6 system not only enhances your driving experience but also allows you to access essential smartphone features safely and conveniently. With a simple setup process or a retrofit option for older vehicles, you can enjoy a more connected drive with ease.

Camera and Display System of iDrive

Head-Up Display

The BMW iDrive 6.0 system offers an advanced Head-Up Display that projects important driving information onto your car’s windshield, right in your line of sight. With this feature, you can view your speed, navigation directions, and other relevant data without taking your eyes off the road. The Head-Up Display in BMW iDrive 6.0 is capable of displaying full-color images, making it easier for you to interpret the information provided.

Rear View Camera

Equipping your BMW with a rear view camera enhances your parking and reversing experience. The camera system provides a clear view of the area behind your vehicle, helping you avoid obstacles and maneuver more confidently. In addition, the iDrive system can display the rear view camera feed on the BMW Curved Display, a high-resolution screen that combines the digital instrument cluster and central control display.

The iDrive 6.0 system also offers a 360-degree surround camera system to help you park and navigate tight spaces with ease. This feature uses multiple cameras positioned around the car to create a bird’s-eye view of your BMW, allowing you to visualize your vehicle in relation to its surroundings and achieve precision parking.

While enjoying the convenience of iDrive’s camera systems, you can also indulge in entertainment features, such as playing DVDs on the BMW Curved Display, to make your journeys more enjoyable. Remember, safety should always be your top priority, and these entertainment options should only be used when the vehicle is stationary.

In summary, the Camera and Display System of BMW iDrive 6.0 enhances your driving experience by providing useful driving information through the Head-Up Display and supports safe parking with the rear view and 360-degree surround camera systems. Equipped with these innovative features, you can drive your BMW with confidence, knowing that you have valuable assistance at your fingertips.

BMW iDrive Generations

BMW’s iDrive system has come a long way since its inception in 2001, with each generation building upon the last and offering significant advancements in technology, functionality, and ease of use. In this section, we will explore the latest generation of iDrive, iDrive 7, and its features that make it a standout among in-car infotainment systems.

iDrive 7

Launched with the G20 3 Series in 2018, iDrive 7 is a major leap forward in BMW’s infotainment technology. It introduces a new user interface with customizable layouts, improved responsiveness, and enhanced integration with BMW’s Digital Assistant.

The centerpiece of iDrive 7 is its customizable home screen. You can now personalize your home screen with various widgets, allowing you to quickly access your most frequently used functions. This customizability ensures that the information you find most important is always within easy reach.

Along with the updated appearance, iDrive 7 offers better Voice control through BMW’s Intelligent Personal Assistant. It allows for natural language processing, making interacting with the system more seamless and conversational. Additionally, it allows you to control various car functions using voice commands like adjusting the cabin temperature, changing the radio station, and even opening the sunroof.

When it comes to navigation, iDrive 7 boasts a more detailed map view and supports over-the-air updates for the navigation data. This ensures you always have the latest road information at your fingertips.

iDrive 7 also integrates with popular smartphone features like Apple CarPlay and, starting with 2019 models, Android Auto. This integration allows you to access familiar apps, music, and navigation services directly from your vehicle’s infotainment screen.

In conclusion, iDrive 7 brings a wealth of improvements to BMW’s infotainment experience. With its customizable interface, enhanced voice control, and seamless integration with smartphones, iDrive 7 is a clear demonstration of BMW’s commitment to evolving with the demands of today’s drivers.

In-Car Entertainment on iDrive 6

When you step into your BMW equipped with iDrive 6, you can expect a seamless and enjoyable in-car entertainment experience. With a variety of features at your fingertips, your drives will never be dull again.

One of the core features of iDrive 6 is the ability to connect and play your favorite music. The system supports a multitude of audio sources, allowing you to listen to your tunes either through USB or wirelessly via Bluetooth. Additionally, you can always rely on the built-in FM/AM radio for local stations and news updates.

If you’re a fan of visual entertainment, iDrive 6 also has you covered with its DVD playback capabilities. Simply insert your DVD into the designated slot, and the high-resolution display will make sure you enjoy your videos in brilliant quality. Remember that watching videos while driving is not advisable, so ensure your vehicle is stationary before indulging yourself.

Bluetooth plays a major role in elevating your in-car entertainment experience. With iDrive 6, you can easily pair your smartphone and access common entertainment features like Apple CarPlay. Make phone calls, send text messages, and even use voice commands, all while keeping your hands on the steering wheel and your eyes on the road.

Additionally, the customizable menu within iDrive 6 allows you to prioritize your most frequently used entertainment options for smoother access. This way, you can spend less time navigating menus and more time enjoying your drive.

In summary, iDrive 6 offers a comprehensive in-car entertainment system designed to keep you entertained and connected while on the road. So sit back, relax, and let your BMW provide the soundtrack for your journeys.

Connecting Your BMW with Other Devices

Connecting your BMW to other devices is a simple yet essential process to enhance your driving experience. Let’s explore how you can connect your BMW with various devices using Bluetooth, USB, and even DVD.

Bluetooth Connectivity

To connect your smartphone with your BMW via Bluetooth, first, ensure that your car’s ignition is turned on. Next, navigate to the “Communication” menu on your iDrive 6 system and select “Manage mobile devices.” Then, press “Connect new device,” which will make your BMW discoverable. On your smartphone, turn on Bluetooth and search for your BMW’s ID. Once found, pair both devices, and you’re all set. You can now enjoy hands-free communication and music streaming while driving.

In case you wish to use Android Auto, your BMW supports wireless connection with compatible smartphones, allowing access to familiar functions and apps within your vehicle. Remember that some Android devices may require a USB connection.

USB Coding

For those looking to customize their BMW, USB coding can unlock additional features and functionalities. To do this, you’ll need a cable that is compatible with your BMW, a laptop, and coding software. First, connect your laptop to your BMW using the cable and open the coding software. Here, you’ll find a list of various coding options and tweaks you can make to your car. Once you’ve made your desired changes, save and send the coding to your BMW. After a restart, your BMW will now have the latest custom features.

DVD Compatibility

Your iDrive 6 system also allows playing DVDs on your main infotainment screen. To get started, insert a DVD into your BMW’s DVD player or a connected external DVD player. Ensure that your car is in park, as video playback is restricted while driving for safety reasons. Once the DVD is inserted, navigate to “Media” on your iDrive, and select the DVD option. Your movie or video will start playing on the screen, allowing you to enjoy your favorite content in comfort.

Connecting your BMW to other devices can significantly enhance your driving enjoyment and bring a personal touch to your vehicle’s functionality. With Bluetooth, USB coding, and DVD compatibility, you can easily integrate your favorite devices and customize your driving experience to better suit your needs.

Audi versus BMW iDrive

When comparing Audi’s MMI system with the BMW iDrive 6, you’ll notice both similarities and differences. While both systems offer a high level of functionality, there are essential differences in their user interfaces and other features.

Audi’s MMI system gets high praise for its Virtual Cockpit, which provides a customizable digital display on the instrument panel. This feature enhances the driving experience by showing essential information right in front of you. In contrast, BMW iDrive’s central screen is larger and easier to read, but the instrument cluster has fewer customization options.

Both systems employ rotary dials and buttons for control, though the iDrive 6 includes touchscreen functionality. This feature provides more fluid control over features such as navigation, audio, and connectivity options. The BMW iDrive 6 and Audi MMI systems also support Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, ensuring seamless smartphone integration.

Each system has its unique strengths and drawbacks. Audi MMI’s Virtual Cockpit provides an impressive and engaging interface, though some may feel its center screen design is somewhat dated. In contrast, the BMW iDrive 6 offers a more versatile central display and touchscreen capabilities, but it lacks the Virtual Cockpit’s immersive experience.

In the end, your preference between these two systems will likely come down to personal taste and desired features. It’s essential to test-drive both systems and feel which one meets your requirements and suits your driving style.



Georg Meier

BMW technician since 1996. I began my automotive journey in 1993 as an apprentice mechanic at Automag, the world's oldest BMW dealership in Munich. With years of experience and dedication, I garnered a wealth of knowledge about the intricacies of BMW and MINI vehicles. The love/hate relationship with the brand led me to found BIMMERIST where I share expertise and insights with fellow enthusiasts.

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