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When the ride overrides car tech

It’s not always about the tech, admits ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK as he tries out the BMW 220i.

How much tech is too much in a car? One might argue that there is no such thing as too much tech, but that also depends on the car.

In the case of the BMW 220i M Sport, a 2-door coupe that requires one to fold the front seats forward to get in the back, it is all about the drive, and not the passengers. That means that too much infotainment is likely to be wasted on the driver.

A compact, rear-wheel-drive coupe powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, the 220i produces 135 kW of power and 300 Nm of torque. This engine is paired with an eight-speed Steptronic automatic transmission that delivers seamless shifts. It can accelerate from 0 to 100km/h in 7.5 seconds, with a top speed of 236 km/h. That all adds up to a solid driving experience, with the tyres firmly planted on the road, responsive and precise steering, and a real sense of control over the car rather than being along for the ride.

And the tech? The 220i’s infotainment system is one of the best in its class, while the driver’s instrument cluster is information-rich – when you need it to be. The high-resolution 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen and fully digital 10.25″ instrument display uses the BMW Live Cockpit Professional technology that runs on the BMW Operating System 7.

If you need more high touch, the infotainment and navigation can be operated via the iDrive Touch Controller, in effect an embedded touchpad on the controller knob. It’s extremely useful for managing the old-style navigation if one is not connecting smartphone mapping via Apple Car Play or Android Auto. The navigation itself gets better all the time. If all else fails, voice control is not too bad – but still not close to Google Assistant or Apple Siri.

The instrument cluster is fully customisable, and lets one emphasise anything from the speedo to driving assistance.  Drive modes cover the typical gamut of dynamic Sport, relaxed Comfort and fuel-efficient Eco Pro.

Standard features include a rearview camera, parking assist with a surround-view camera system, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, active cruise control with stop-and-go functionality, lane departure warning with lane keeping assist, and front collision warning with automatic emergency braking.

The hope is, of course, that you will drive safely enough to keep the need for these features to a minimum. However, it’s a car that demands that one experience its performance, and that is when the driver-focused technology comes into its own.

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