The one problem with the G20 BMW 3 Series that BMW needs to fix

There is no doubt that about the BMW’s superior dynamics, which is far ahead of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class and the Audi A4. We absolutely love the way it drives and sounds, even in the four-cylinder 330i. 

In terms of evolution of character, the G20 BMW 3 Series is closer to the more driver-focused E90 3 Series than the previous F30 model, which closer to the comfort-biased E46 than the sharper handling E90.

The G20 BMW 3 Series is more spacious than the E90, without losing any of the excellent driving dynamics and steering feedback the E90 was known for. It is however not as comfortable as the F30, but only slightly.

Thus why we said the G20 3 Series an evolution of the E90 rather than the F30, which while comfortable, was criticized by keen drivers for being too soft and lacking in steering feedback that the E90 was famous for.

The G20 3 Series is as close as you can get in marrying the two opposite worlds of comfort and sharp handling.

There is however one problem. The BMW Live Cockpit Pro digital instrument panel is the weakest link in an otherwise near perfect car. In fact, it's the weakest link in any new generation BMW as Live Cockpit Pro is progressively rolled out across all BMW models.

Cluttered instrument panel will not be appreciated by keen drivers

The opposite facing dials is something you can never get used to. What will happen is that you will simply learned to ignore it, which is shame for a car that prides itself in superior driving dynamics.

Short of disabling display of all secondary driving/infotainment related information, the instrument panel is too cluttered, which is rather surprising as you would expect a company like BMW to understand how important instrument gauges are to a keen driver.

Seriously?!

BMW’s Live Cockpit Pro is still the only LCD instrument panel we have tried that doesn’t allow you to switch between different displays modes. Switching between Sport and Comfort mode only changes the colour of the dials – but you don’t need LCD displays to do that.

Is the picture necessary for a radio station?

What’s the point of having an LCD display if the layout is fixed?

Mercedes-Benz and Audi for example, allow for a wide variety of display options and you can even customize it to your liking.

C-Class' simple looking instrument panel offers three different layout options, is a lot more user friendly

Worse, most of the information presented in the instrument panel is a duplicate of what’s already shown on the infotainment’s display.

We wished we could defend BMW’s shortcomings by applauding its effort to embrace digitization but unfortunately that’s not the case.

The infotainment – the centre piece of any efforts to digitize the car - supports only Apple CarPlay. Sorry Android Auto users. There are cars that costs less than half of the 3 Series’ that support both platforms.

In BMW’s defense, the company reasons that there are privacy issues with Android Auto as BMW doesn’t want Google to feed ads to its customers.

We wished the argument could end there but BMW’s Digital Key feature is only available for Android smartphone users. What’s with that?

The reason? Apple doesn’t want to support BMW for the same reason that BMW doesn’t want to support Android Auto.

Apple says that to ensure security of its devices and their user’s privacy, it can’t allow third parties like BMW to operate in its ecosystem.

See the problem now? Short of carrying two smartphones, you can’t fully utilize all the features in your BMW.

And this is on top of paying for a fancy digital instrument panel does nothing to make the driving experience better.

BMW has since announced that it will begin offering Android Auto starting mid-2020 (so what happened to the privacy concerns?). As a consolation for keeping its customers waiting, BMW’s Android Auto will work wirelessly, the first of its kind for a factory fitted infotainment.  

It is left to be seen if existing G20 3 Series models will receive an update in the future.

Keep in mind that retrofitting Android Auto may not necessarily be limited to just a simple software update. On some cars, hardware upgrades to the USB port is necessary.

BMW 3 Series
BMW 3 Series