Taking a BMW M series car out on the track is an occasion for daydreaming that you're Michael Schumacher at the wheel of a Formula 1 racer. Unfortunately, the average BMW doesn’t come with a US$50,000 F1 steering wheel, making the illusion that bit harder to maintain. To help rectify this, BMW is offering a steering wheel with a touch of the racetrack as part of its M Performance accessories catalog.
The BMW M Performance steering wheel isn’t as insanely complicated as the F1 wheel and you don’t have to remove it in order to get in the car, but it does provide some features to make a track day a bit more interesting. At first glance, it looks fairly conventional except that on the rim is an OLED display with two LED readouts on either side and a pair of thumb buttons hidden under the leather. The purpose of these readouts is to provide the driver with information at a glance without having to look at the dashboard instruments – much like an F1 wheel.
The M Performance wheel operates in three modes. The first is ECO, during which the displays guide the driver into how to drive in the most economical style and provide readouts on how well the car performed against averages. The second is the Sport mode, where the wheel acts as a stopwatch, monitors fuel consumption and acts as a g-meter to show and record acceleration in turns. The last is Race mode, which includes a lap timer with various split-time and memory functions displayed to the nearest hundredth of a second. This mode also has an optional lap trigger that uses an infrared transmitter and receiver to measure lap times automatically as well as the ability to time a variety of sprints, such as the 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) or the American quarter-mile sprint. The LEDs even provide countdown and sprint-finish indicators.
Radiator temperature is shown in all three modes and oil temperature is displayed for petrol engines. The system also has a memory function so information like acceleration in a curve is available to read later.
Of course, none of the modes are particularly practical, but since the M Performance wheel is the steering equivalent of a go-faster stripe, that’s not a major drawback. Pricing for the M Performance Wheel starts at US$800.
The video below is a review of the M Performance steering wheel provided by BMW.