CONCEPT. BMW Z9 Cabrio Concept (2000)

Although the BMW Z9 Cabriolet Concept looks hot and its name suggests it’s one degree hotter than the much-coveted and lauded Z8, its launch is not about engine power or performance; it’s about technology.

CONCEPT. BMW Z9 Cabrio Concept (2000)

BMW says the Z9 represents the design philosophy of the future. Automobile dashboards are becoming more and more complex all the time, says the German automaker, making it increasingly harder for drivers to concentrate on driving. (BMW should know, its consoles are among the most confusing in the business.) The main idea behind the creation of the Z9 concept is that cars should be made easier to drive.

CONCEPT. BMW Z9 Cabrio Concept (2000)

The Z9 employs a central command system called «iDrive» which gathers every essential instrument and switch into a central control easily accessed and adjusted by the driver with the least amount of distraction. The engineers behind the project say the «i» stands for «integrative» and «intuitive.»

The system is operated via a toggle lever mounted on the center floor console where you’d usually find a gear shifter. The toggle controls heating and air conditioning, audio, telephone, trip computer and navigation systems, displaying all on a dash-mounted screen. So, where’s the gear lever? The gears are shifted using controls mounted on the steering wheel. When a Z9 engineer was questioned about this, he became very defensive, curtly remarking that this was no big deal and was, in fact, «exactly like in Formula One race cars.» His reaction suggests the Z9 concept has created controversy for its dramatic departure from conventional driving dynamics.

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