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BMW Launch Control

One key piece of information that many look for when buying a BMW, or almost any new car, is how fast it accelerates. That key statistic on how many seconds it takes to get from 0 to 60 has a lot of sway over people’s final decisions.

BMW has a secret weapon hidden within the functionality of many of its models, and that is a little something called “Launch Control.” This formidable acceleration tool may be in your BMW and you didn’t know it! First, let’s learn more about it.

BMW Launch Control

What is BMW Launch Control?

In the words of BMW — “Launch Control enables optimum acceleration on surfaces with good traction.” In simpler terms, Launch Control is an electronic driver assistance feature that turns your standing start into…well, a launch, greatly boosting the speed at which you accelerate from a stop.

Using a computer program and the innovation of an electronic accelerator, Launch Control delivers safe and optimized acceleration to drivers. It was first designed with racers in mind, but the technology has been installed in both street- and track-specification BMW cars. The system accelerates your car smoothly and quickly, without causing the drive wheels to spin.

The system is also designed to take other factors into account and prevent over-revving, as well as the potential clutch and gearbox problems.

bmw m4 rolling shot

Do all BMWs Have Launch Control?

Many believed that only BMW racing cars, and track-specification or racing-style cars like the BMW M4 coupé for example, had Launch Control installed. In fact, it appears in a wider range of models than you might first think.

While it was initially reserved for BMW M high-performance models, it became more widespread after 2013, with many non-M models receiving the technology, too. This includes lower series models like the 3 and 4 Series. If you have a BMW Car made after 2013, there’s a good chance you have Launch Control in your vehicle and perhaps don’t even know about it.

One good way to know for sure if you have this feature is to go to your infotainment screen, click on “Vehicle info,” and then on “Owner’s manual,” you can search for the term Launch Control. The manual filters out any words that don’t match an on-board feature. If your search comes up positive, then you have the feature on board.

The manual will also tell you step by step how to activate it, but just in case you aren’t keen to look it up, we’ve prepared an easy-to-follow guide below.

How do I activate BMW Launch Control?

The procedure differs ever so slightly depending on whether you’re using a BMW M model or a non-M model. Regardless of which BMW model you’re using, however, the very first thing you have to do be sure that the car is fully warmed up and has been driven around 5-6 miles. Only then should you attempt to use Launch Control.

First, we’ll explain the operation for the M model, specifically an M5:

M Models: When you have brought your BMW to a complete stop, activate Sport+ with all drive modes — engine, suspension, and steering. Next, place your left foot quite firmly on the brake pedal, and then move the gear shifter to the right so it’s in manual and in first gear.

The next step is putting the car into shift mode 3 by using the shift selector at the base of the gear shift. After that, you deactivate traction control by holding the DCS button for 3 seconds. You should see the light appear on your dash display. At this point, if you notice that the MDM light is also showing, you’ll have to go back into the menu and reactivate MDM.

At this point, you have completed the mode settings for Launch Control. Now it’s time to the pedals ready. You should still have your left foot on the brake. At the same time, hold the gear selector forward, and then push the gas pedal right down to the floor. Once it’s there, push a bit more and you’ll feel a button depress — this is where you have reached full throttle. You might be worried about fuel consumption at this point, but don’t panic, stay the course, you’re almost there. Steadily release the brake pedal to find the medium while looking at the instrument cluster. You should then see on the dash display “Launch Control Active” with a chequered flag to confirm you’re on the track.

Your moment has arrived — release the brake and the gear shift and LAUNCH!

Non-M Car (Using 335i): The basic process is the same, but there may be some subtle differences, like that DCS traction control might go off automatically when you select Sport+, or that you move the gear shifter to the left instead of the right, moving into gear S1 instead of just gear 1.

The rest of the process with the pedals and the chequered flag logo on the dash for Launch Control becoming active remains the same.

bmw launch control racing flag

Is Launch Control Bad for Your BMW?

First of all, we should start our answer to this by asking ourselves another question – would BMW install a feature like a launch mode if it were fundamentally bad for the car? Would you invest in a BMW M3 or M5 if you knew that one of the flagship features of that car was going to be detrimental? Unlikely.

The truth is that while the function is not in itself bad for the car, it is also not advisable to overuse the function. There’s no doubt that using this function will wear out the drivetrain parts at a somewhat higher rate than if you were to just set off normally every time. There’s also no doubt that fuel consumption will likely increase. It is designed as a fun feature for people to enjoy in moderation. Let’s not forget that even turning the steering wheel too hard or too abruptly can cause damage, but no one is claiming they are “bad for the BMW.”

Whether you have a regular BMW or a BMW M model, this is a device to be enjoyed, most of all. Try out Launch Control for yourself and experience the thrill of the rocket-like takeoff. Just use it in moderation! It’s a unique BMW driving experience.

bmw 435i gran coupe

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