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.
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.