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BMW M Performance steering wheel puts driving data at your fingertips


November 12, 2012

The BMW M Performance steering wheel in ECO mode

The BMW M Performance steering wheel in ECO mode

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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.

Source: BMW

About the Author
David Szondy David Szondy is a freelance writer based in Monroe, Washington. An award-winning playwright, he has contributed to Charged and iQ magazine and is the author of the website Tales of Future Past. All articles by David Szondy

I'm just going to wait until BMW offers something like this on their new scooters - makes about as much sense.

Bob Fately

As drivers pass the 40 year old mark, they tend to develop long sightedness. Focusing on small characters very close on a steering wheel and then focusing back on the road, at night, bad weather and other situations can lead to fatigue, carelessness, etc. This innovation wont fly for long.

They should have concentrated on putting the info further away near the windscreen, instead, which is a better distance from the drivers eyes. Oh, but that's already been done.

Nantha Nithiahnanthan

Great- more toys to distract the driver from the job in hand- safe enough in a straight-ahead position but when making constant steering corrections (as is the case when driving on British A and B roads) means that the readout display will constantly be moving from side to side- making at-a-glance readings much more difficult than looking at the instrument binnacle, and could cause a hazard.

BMW have already been criticised for their confusing 'iDrive' info-control systems in their cars for being not very intuitive and taking the driver's eyes off the road for too long, so as is often the case with certain premium Continental European manufacturers, instead of addressing the issue they compound it by adding yet more distractions- for the sake of what, exactly?

Such manufacturers ought to concentrate on quality control and basic reliability (going by woeful showings in the JD Power rankings) rather than adding yet more ephemera.


The aero-space industry has spent lots of money figuring out that analog read out (needles for oil temp/pressure, odometer, water temp, etc.) are much easier to read and COMPREHEND at a glance. As with most digital output, the human brain needs to convert it to a different relationship for understanding the data. So, 100C doesn't mean as much as a pointer tending to hot or cold, low or high.

As Nantha says, the older we get the more far sighted we become (usually). It seems it would be the older folks who can afford this car.

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