What is wrong with the 2010 BMW Navigation System?

Imagine you are driving along the streets of Melbourne, Australia. You would like to know where you are. What suburb are you in?

If you are in the latest model of the BMW Series 5, forget it. The main screen will not easily display the suburb or the street you are in. To find out the name of the street you have to look at the adjacent split screen because the main screen will not give you that information. Moreover, neither screen will tell you what suburb you are in.

So you are stuck with only knowing that you are in High Street, Melbourne, for example, but this street is so long and cuts through so many unnamed suburbs that you are none the wiser. “High Street, where?” Malvern? Toorak? Prahran” Hawthorn? And then there’s the problem of other High Streets scattered all over Melbourne

Sure, the system can navigate you to a selected destination. It can even tell you what your altitude, longitude and latitude are, so that a search party may find you in the wilderness. BUT if you are just taking a normal drive in a city or town, then the screen will not tell you what suburb you are in.

This is very frustrating since we would like to know where we are. We don’t care whether we are 30 metres above sea level. Of what use is that to us for everyday driving? And why have the main street names on the screen been changed to numbers? Why do we have to look at the adjacent screen to translate what S21 or S26 refers to?

Ironically, in our previous Series 5 BMW we could look at the screen and read the name of the suburb and the street that we were in. In other words, we knew where we were and we knew which was the neighbouring suburb. After all, location, in my opinion, is just as important as destination when you are driving. Oh how I miss that!

I also miss the pleasant voice on the earlier model navigator. The current one is robotic and offputting. It always makes me bristle with an urge to stand to attention and click my heels.

I have no idea why BMW went backwards in this latest Professional Navigation System. They wanted a change, I guess, but not all change is for the better.

The rest of the car’s features are good. It’s beautiful to look at and drives well, but the problem with the navigator is constantly there, in your face, reminding you of its failing.

We have complained to BMW Australia and they told us we are stuck with it. What a pity!


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