Thanks to everyone for your input.
I went to the dealer today, and tried things out for myself. It's definitely more convenient to use the manual seats to access the back, IMHO.
2012 E88 128i, Alpine White/Black
2011 E90 328i, Crimson Red/Black
2008 E60 550i, Carbon Black/Natural Brown, ED 2 November 2007 (retired)
2006 E83 X3, Silver Grey/Black, ED 15 May 2006. (retired)
2005 E46 330i, Jet Black/Black (retired)
2002 E46 325i, Electric Red/Black (retired)