2011 BMW 5 Series Long Term Road Test

2011 BMW 528i: Throttle Response via My Right Foot

November 28, 2010

Long Term BMW 528i Sport Mode.JPG

I spent Thanksgiving Week in our long-term 2011 BMW 528i. That right there should be reason enough for feelings of grattitude, and certainly the overall experience was positive.

However, as with BMWs dating back to the first Z3, I found the need to repeatedly activate "Sport Mode" after every start-up annoying. The default mode is "Normal," and throttle response in that setting is, well, not responsive enough. As Jay noted, there's actually a slight pause/stumble when you first tip in, which only exacerbates the problem.

It makes me wonder why BMW even offers different throttle response programming. Maybe it helps eek out another MPG or two on the EPA test cycle. Plenty of other manufacturers are compromising their vehicles' driving characteristics for that reason.

In my mind offering different throttle programs is like offering different power window speeds or different volume knob turning ratios. Don't offer multiple versions of this. Just figure out the best one and be done with it. And yes, this holds true for variable steering too, as too many of those systems also do more harm than good.

You know what I use to vary throttle response in my older cars? It's a pretty exotic tool that can modulate the throttle to the perfect amount I need for any given situation. I call it my right foot.

I can see the value in different suspension settings, because those aren't something I can quickly change by simply altering my driving inputs. Otherwise, just give me a single, effective setting. I can do the rest myself.

Karl Brauer, Edmunds.com Editor at Large @ 5,656 miles

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