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Which BMW Models Have Launch Control? (+ How to Use It!)

Ever seen a BMW sprint from 0 to 60 in the blink of an eye? And have you since wondered if yours is capable of the same?

In that case, you probably want to find out if your BMW has launch control, too!

In this guide, we’ll tell you everything you must know about BMW’s launch control, exploring which models are equipped with this cool feature and how to use it like a pro.

Let’s get started!

Which BMW models have launch control?

When we talk about all the advanced tech packed into BMWs, launch control definitely stands out as one of those features that make our hearts race a little faster.

And if you’re wondering whether it’s available in all BMWs or just specific ones, you’re asking the right questions.

Here is a list of all BMW models that come with launch control:

  • BMW 1 Series F20/F21/F40 (2011 to 2024)
  • BMW 2 Series F22/F23/F44/G42 (2014 to 2024)
  • BMW 3 Series F30/F31/F34/F35/G20/G21 (2011 to 2024)
    • BMW M3 E90/E91/E92/E93 (2008 to 2013)
  • BMW 4 Series F32/F33/F36/G22/G23/G26 (2013 to 2024)
  • BMW 5 Series F10/F11/F07/G30/G31/G60/G61 (2010 to 2024)
    • BMW M5 E60/E61 (2005 to 2010)
  • BMW 6 Series F06/F12/F13/G32 (2011 to 2024)
    • BMW M6 E63/E64 (2005 to 2010)
  • BMW 8 Series G14/G15/G16 (2018 to 2024)
  • BMW X1 F48/U11 (2016 to 2024)
  • BMW X2 F39 (2017 to 2024)
  • BMW X3 F25/G01 (2010 to 2024)
  • BMW X4 F26/G02 (2014 to 2024)
  • BMW X5 F15/F85/G05 (2013 to 2024)
  • BMW X6 F16/G06 (2015 to 2024)
  • BMW X7 G07 (2018 to 2024)
  • BMW XM G09 (2022 to 2024)
  • BMW Z4 E89/G29 (2009 to 2024)
  • BMW I8 (2014 to 2020)

Note: For some models, only trims with an automatic transmission are equipped with launch control.

Isn’t it fascinating to see how BMW integrates launch control into so many of its models?

So, if you’ve got one of the above models, you’re in for some fun!

Tip: Not sure which BMW model you have? Follow our guide here to find out!

How do you use BMW launch control?

Alright, now for the fun part!

Whether you’re new to BMW or you’ve been around for a while but never dared to try launch control, we’ve got your back.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to activate BMW launch control:

Step 1: Ensure the engine is at its operating temperature

This is a safety precaution as well as a performance one.

Before you even think about activating launch control, it’s crucial that your BMW’s engine is warm and ready to perform at its best.

BMW X6 M50D Engine temperature - instrument cluster

Plus, ensure your steering wheel isn’t turned too much – anything over 30 degrees could prevent launch control from activating.

Step 2: Select Sport+ mode

The Sport+ mode is where the magic truly happens. It prepares your BMW by adjusting various vehicle parameters for maximum performance.

Locate the Sport button (typically found in the central console) and give it two quick presses.

BMW Sport driving mode button

You’ll know you’re in Sport+ mode when you see the indicator light up on your dashboard.

This mode ensures your car is in its sportiest setting, ready to give you that exhilarating launch!

Step 3: Put the gearbox in Sport mode

Now, it’s time to get your BMW’s gearbox into the action.

Gently bump the gear lever to the left toward the “M/S” mode.

When you do this, keep an eye out on the dashboard. You should spot an ‘S1’ gear indicator light up.

This is your car’s way of saying, “Got it! We’re in Sport mode now!” It ensures your transmission is ready for a high-powered start.

BMW gear lever modes

Step 4: Activate Sport+ Traction mode

This is where we ensure your BMW stays grounded (literally!) during the launch.

The traction control system in a BMW is designed to prevent wheel spin by adjusting the power sent to the wheels.

By pressing the traction control button once, you activate the Sport+ Traction mode:

BMW M340i Sport+ Traction mode

This mode offers a balanced level of traction control, allowing for a hint of wheel spin but ensuring the car remains under control.

Step 5: Press and hold your left foot on the brake

Before taking off, you want to ensure your BMW is stationary as it prepares launch control.

So, with your left foot, press down on the brake pedal and hold it there firmly.

Step 6: Press and hold your right foot down on the accelerator

With your left foot still firmly pressing the brake, it’s time to press down on the accelerator with your right foot.

As you push further, you’ll see a sweet notification on your dashboard: ‘Launch Control Activated.’

BMW 'Launch Control active' message on the dashboard

This is your BMW’s way of communicating, “Alright, we are ready for takeoff!”

Note: On some models, you can adjust the takeoff engine RPM using the cruise control adjuster button. In general, the best BMW launch control setting is between 3,000 and 3,500 RPM.

Step 7: Release the brake

With the accelerator still pressed, release your left foot from the brake.

Just like that, you’ll feel a surge of power pushing you back into your seat as your BMW uses launch control to propel forward with unmatched speed!

And don’t worry, as long as you don’t release the accelerator, your BMW will shift by itself!

BMW M3 Touring under acceleration

Related article: Master Your BMW: 20 Tips And 9 Hidden Features! (2024)

What should you do if BMW Launch control is not working?

Ah, technology!

As exciting as it can be, there are times when even the most sophisticated systems have problems.

So, if you find yourself in a situation where your BMW’s launch control isn’t working, don’t worry.

Before thinking about a malfunction, let’s run through some quick troubleshooting tips:

1. Press the brake with greater force

Sometimes, it’s all about pressing that brake pedal more firmly.

The car must sense the full engagement of the brake to ensure it’s safe to activate launch control.

2. Depress the accelerator pedal past the resistance point

When you’re pressing down on the accelerator, you might feel a point of resistance.

Push past it.

This acts almost like a ‘confirm button,’ signaling to the car that you genuinely want to activate the launch control.

3. Allow at least a 5-minute interval between two launches

Your BMW is a marvel of engineering, but even marvels need a breather now and then.

If you’ve recently used launch control, give the system some time to reset and the transmission to cool down before going for another round.

4. Check for any warning lights

If there’s an underlying issue preventing the launch control from activating, the car will often display a warning light or message.

This can give you a hint about what might be wrong.

5. Ensure all the doors, hood, and trunk are properly closed

Safety first! Your BMW won’t activate launch control if it senses any of the doors or the hood/trunk aren’t securely closed.

BMW M3 in Yas Marina Blue

What is the purpose of BMW launch control?

If you’re reading this article and wondering, “Why does launch control even exist?” let’s take a moment to discuss its benefits:

  • Maximum acceleration with minimum wheel spin. At its core, BMW’s launch control is designed to provide the fastest start from a standstill. Every millisecond counts when you’re looking to achieve that 0 to 60-mph sprint in record time.
  • Consistency. While skilled drivers might achieve rapid starts through practice, BMW’s launch control offers a consistent and repeatable launching method.
  • Control. The BMW launch control isn’t just about raw speed; it manages torque, throttle response, and gearbox settings to ensure a smooth and controlled acceleration.
  • The thrill factor. BMW knows that driving isn’t just about getting from Point A to B; it’s about the journey, the emotions, and the experience. Launch control adds a dose of excitement to that mix.

Is BMW launch control safe for the car?

With features such as launch control, questions about safety and longevity are natural.

So, let’s discuss how BMW’s launch control impacts your car.

First, BMW wouldn’t integrate a feature into their vehicles without thorough testing and ensuring it meets their high standards of safety and reliability.

The fact that launch control exists is a testament to the confidence BMW has in the robustness of its engineering.

Therefore, it can be said that, in general, launch control can be safely used in a BMW.

Is there a limit to how often you can use BMW launch control?

That said, BMW launch control isn’t designed to be used at every traffic light.

And this is why BMW might have built in a secret limit to how often you can use the launch control feature.

In leaked internal documents of the F48 BMW X1, it is suggested that launch control can be used 100 times in its most aggressive setting during the life span of an automatic transmission.

After that, launch control remains operational, but the shifts become slightly slower, adding approximately 0.5 seconds to the 0 to 60 mph time.

Active launch control in a BMW X5 M50d

Similarly, rumors exist about the ZF8 automatic transmission on models like the G80 M3 or F90 M5 being limited to 50 hardcore launches.

At first glance, these numbers might seem restrictive, but they exist for good reason:

Overuse of aggressive launch control puts excessive stress on the transmission over time. By implementing these limits, BMW ensures the reliability of the transmission.

If you’re disappointed by the limit, consider this: How often would an average BMW owner use launch control in its most aggressive setting?

Even for the most enthusiastic of drivers, reaching those limits takes consistent effort.

For most, it’s a feature to be enjoyed occasionally, ensuring the built-in limits are rarely reached.

Conclusion

BMW has always strived to balance luxury, performance, and innovation.

Their launch control feature is a testament to this commitment.

But while it’s a treat for those moments when you want that extra adrenaline kick, it’s also a feature that must be respected.

Safe driving, everyone!

Other BMW features

Interested in learning more about other BMW features? If so, take a look at these articles:

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