BMW M to Offer New Drive Modes, Adjustable Braking

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

BMW M has unveiled new display and control systems for its vehicles’ powertrain, chassis, and driver assistance systems, with an emphasis on added customizability. The company is even going so far as to allow drivers to set up brake feel, starting with the M8 and M8 Competition.

On-the-fly adjustments to a car’s suspension, throttle response, and steering inputs aren’t new. But brake feel isn’t something you see a lot of manufacturers messing with. In fact, there’s not much call for it on most vehicles, as consistent brake feel is something most people probably want from their daily driver. However, the same cannot be said for performance applications that might see the occasional track day.

BMW’s claim that “the feeling of an M car is unmistakable” could become diluted if the automaker endlessly tinkers with just about every item offering feedback to the driver, as the feeling of an M car would become whatever you want it to be in a given situation. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

From BMW:

The control system developed for BMW M models traditionally enables their powertrain and chassis technology to be configured in a wide variety of ways according to personal tastes and needs. Indeed, the driver can activate various settings for the engine, suspension and steering independently of one another. In models specified with the M xDrive all-wheel-drive system, the distribution of power between the front and rear wheels can also be tweaked. And now the new BMW M8 Coupe and new BMW M8 Convertible offer the ability to configure the braking system as required, too.

The system sounds borderline idiot-proof, with a devoted setup button on the center console allowing for customization of each parameter via the iDrive Controller or touchscreen. However, while the engine and suspension have five and three settings, respectively, steering and brake customization is limited to one of two modes — Sport and Comfort.

While the brake settings don’t actually help the car decelerate any faster, it does adjust the amount of pressure the brake pedal requires to slow the car — potentially helping with reaction times. “This allows the driver to choose between a comfort-oriented perception of the braking process and a particularly direct, instantaneous response to applications of the pedal,” elaborated the automaker in its release. “The new BMW M8 teams this innovative system with both the standard M compound brakes and optional M carbon-ceramic brakes.”

The company also said the new system provides consistent feedback regardless of “wet road surfaces, significant lateral acceleration or high brake temperatures.” We’re not sure how they (or any automaker) can make that promise, yet we remain eager to see BMW attempt to defy physics and make brake fade a thing of the past.

Bavaria also promises an M Dynamic Mode, which raises the threshold for stability control and allows for “controlled drifts,” plus a DSC Off button. You can also choose to have the car distribute all of its power to the rear wheels, if desired.

The only remaining new hotness is the addition of an M Mode button on the steering wheel, which allows for immediate access to one of two previously stored drive settings and a track mode on Competition models. While we’ve already covered what the brunt of those settings are, BMW claims drivers can also tailor engine sounds, gearshift characteristics, advanced driving aids, cockpit display, auto start stop, and more.

[Images: BMW]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

More by Matt Posky

Join the conversation
2 of 10 comments
  • ToolGuy ToolGuy on May 10, 2019

    Part of me likes this idea. Then another part of me remembers a recent trip to the residential HVAC place for a replacement dual run capacitor. They had a display of high-end Honeywell thermostats in the showroom. A majority of the screens were reading "Wi-Fi Signal Lost" - yeah right.

  • Tiberius1701 Tiberius1701 on May 10, 2019

    They can't even get their mainstream products to function properly (I'm looking at you X5). And just wait til they go out of warranty...electronic gremlins and oil leaks galore!!

  • Sobro Needs moar Roots.
  • RHD Questions? None, no, not really. Interested in some random Hyundai? No, not at all. Yawn.
  • Formula m Alfa-Romeo had the great idea to unveil my all time favourite car at the world expo in Montreal. Never built or Sold in North America. The called it the Alfa Romeo Montreal. Never even sold in North America.
  • RHD Nice little car. Give it comfortable seats, price it very competitively and leave the Alfa Romeo script on the grille. We need a smaller, cheaper electric car, and this could be just the thing to bring AR back. Heck, rebrand a variant as a Chrysler, so that potential buyers actually have something to look at in the showroom. Give it a nice long warranty. The wheels are great, hopefully the rest of it will follow through.