Almost every BMW enthusiast knows that most modern BMW vehicles equipped with automatic transmissions have an advanced Launch Control system built in. But did you know that manual vehicles also have launch control? While it seems a bit strange – since manual shifting makes launching the vehicle a bit more of a DIY affair than with an automatic – there are actually some benefits to launching your manual-equipped BMW via the launch control protocol. Here, we’ll look at the steps one by one.

Step 1: Prepare for Launch

Manual Transmission in the BMW M2 - it has Launch Control!

In order to activate launch control, the vehicle’s engine must be at operating temperature. So, cold engine launches are a no-go, which seems reasonable. Similarly, the vehicle must be at a full stop, and the steering wheel must be at less than a 30-degree angle. This safety precaution is likely in place to avoid inadvertently turning your launch control into a “donut mode.” Which, likewise, seems reasonable.

The last parameter you’ll need to meet is ensuring that M Dynamic Mode (MDM) is activated. It’s easy – just press the stability control button once. If you didn’t know, MDM allows some slight wheelspin but will step in to correct excessive wheel spin. Congratulations – you’re ready to launch.

Step 2: Clutch Down, Checkered Flag

M3 Manual Gauge Cluster

Here’s the easy part. If you’ve ever launched a car – or driven one – this part will be mostly second nature. First, depress the clutch pedal and put the vehicle into first gear. Now, press the accelerator to the floor – past the resistance point – and continue to hold it. Normally, this would just rev the engine to the moon – but if all the parameters have been met, you’ll see your tachometer stabilize at the “optimized engine speed” for launching the vehicle. Usually, this is around 3-4000 rpm, but it might differ depending on the model. Next, you’ll see a “Preparing Launch Control” message in the check control; a checkered flag will soon appear alongside a “Launch Control Active” message. You have six seconds to release the clutch pedal and send your BMW hurtling towards redline.

Step 3: Blast Off

Release the clutch pedal, and the vehicle accelerates. Here’s the cool part about Launch Control and what sets it apart from simply launching your vehicle in a more analog manner. Modern BMW engines hold boost pressure during the launch, so even when lifting off the gas to shift, full engine torque is available again immediately. Fun stuff. Shift along with the shift lights (if your vehicle has them), and you’ll be, theoretically, racing to 60 mph and beyond as quickly as your vehicle can.

How to Use Launch Control in a Manual BMW: Recap

Here’s a quick breakdown of how to use launch control in a manual BMW:

  1. Allow the vehicle to warm up to operating temperature.
  2. Activate M Dynamic Mode by pressing the stability control button.
  3. Engage the clutch and shift into first gear.
  4. Press the accelerator down as far as it will go without releasing the clutch pedal.
  5. Hold both pedals in place until after the engine’s rpm adjusts and a “Launch Control Ready” message is displayed in the check control. Release the clutch within six seconds and upshift quickly when indicated by the shift lights.