Ultimate Guide to BMW Driving Modes [Driving Experience Control]

Renowned for their unique blend of comfort, performance, and technology, BMW vehicles come equipped with an array of features designed to enhance the driving experience. One such feature is BMW’s Driving Experience Control, which offers different driving modes, including ECO PRO, COMFORT, and SPORT. Each mode modifies various vehicle parameters to provide a driving experience tailored to different situations and driver preferences.


The ECO PRO mode is designed to maximize fuel efficiency and reduce environmental impact. When this mode is selected, the vehicle’s throttle response is adjusted to encourage a more economical driving style. Other systems, like climate control and heated seats, also operate more efficiently to conserve energy.

BMW F01 7 Series instrument cluster with ECO PRO mode activated. BMW Group

Additionally, the ECO PRO mode includes a feature known as “coasting”. When the driver lifts off the accelerator at higher speeds, the engine disconnects from the transmission, allowing the vehicle to roll without engine resistance, further saving fuel.

Here is a more in-depth look at what happens when you select ECO PRO mode in your BMW:

Throttle Response: ECO PRO mode adjusts the vehicle’s throttle response. When you press the accelerator, the vehicle responds less aggressively compared to other modes. This encourages more economical driving by reducing rapid acceleration, which can consume more fuel.

Shift Points: In vehicles with an automatic transmission, ECO PRO mode changes the shift points, causing the vehicle to shift into higher gears sooner and lower gears later. This approach keeps the engine running at lower RPMs, which can improve fuel efficiency.

Energy Management: ECO PRO mode also manages other vehicle systems for improved energy efficiency. For example, it operates the heating and air conditioning more efficiently, reducing the power draw on the engine.

Coasting Function: Some BMW models equipped with ECO PRO mode feature a coasting function (Automatic transmission). When the driver lifts off the accelerator at higher speeds, the engine is decoupled from the transmission. This means the vehicle can ‘coast’ without engine resistance, reducing fuel consumption and emissions.

ECO PRO Route: In conjunction with BMW’s navigation system, ECO PRO mode can suggest a more efficient route based on traffic, road conditions, and personal driving style.

ECO PRO Tips: The onboard computer provides tips for more efficient driving, helping the driver to reduce fuel consumption even further.

Bonus Range Display: To encourage efficient driving, ECO PRO mode displays the additional range gained through driving in ECO PRO mode.

By using ECO PRO mode, drivers can significantly reduce their fuel consumption, contributing to a lower environmental impact and potentially saving on fuel costs. However, it’s worth noting that ECO PRO mode prioritizes efficiency over performance, so drivers may notice a reduction in acceleration and overall performance when this mode is selected.


COMFORT mode is the default setting for BMW vehicles, providing a balance between performance and efficiency. This mode offers smoother throttle response and more comfortable suspension settings for a relaxed and comfortable drive, ideal for everyday commuting.

BMW F01 instrument cluster in default COMFORT mode. BMW Group

In models equipped with Adaptive Suspension, COMFORT mode will adjust the damper settings to soak up road imperfections better, providing a smoother ride.


SPORT mode is all about dynamic driving. It sharpens the vehicle’s performance by adjusting various settings for a more engaging driving experience. The throttle response becomes quicker, the steering becomes more direct, and the shift points for automatic transmissions are adjusted for higher RPMs.

In vehicles with Adaptive Suspension, SPORT mode will firm up the suspension for better road-holding, and in models with variable sport steering, the steering becomes even more direct.

When you select SPORT mode in your BMW, several changes occur:

Throttle Response: SPORT mode sharpens the vehicle’s throttle response. This means that the vehicle will respond more aggressively to inputs from the accelerator, providing faster acceleration.

Shift Points: In BMW vehicles with an automatic transmission, SPORT mode adjusts the shift points, allowing the engine to rev higher before shifting to the next gear. This leads to more power when you accelerate. Additionally, when you’re slowing down, the vehicle will downshift sooner to provide better engine braking and to keep the revs high in case you need to accelerate again.

Steering: SPORT mode also modifies the steering response in vehicles equipped with variable sport steering. The steering becomes more direct and responsive, providing better feedback from the road and allowing the driver to feel more connected to the vehicle’s movements.

Suspension: In BMW models equipped with Adaptive M Suspension, SPORT mode changes the damper settings. The suspension becomes firmer, reducing body roll and improving the vehicle’s handling during high-speed cornering.

Instrument Cluster: The instrument cluster’s display may also change to emphasize performance-related information, such as the tachometer, highlighting the sporty nature of this mode.

Engine Sound: Some BMW models enhance the engine sound in SPORT mode, providing a more exciting auditory experience during dynamic driving.

Remember, while the SPORT mode enhances performance and handling, it can lead to higher fuel consumption compared to other modes like COMFORT or ECO PRO. It’s designed for situations where you want to enjoy a more engaging drive, rather than for maximizing fuel efficiency or comfort. Always drive responsibly and remember to adjust your driving to the road conditions, regardless of the driving mode selected.


Some BMW models also come with a SPORT+ mode, which takes the SPORT mode’s adjustments a step further for an even more dynamic driving experience. In addition to the features of SPORT mode, SPORT+ mode may adjust the Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) settings to allow for more wheel slip, providing a more spirited drive.

BMW F01 7 Series instrument cluster with SPORT+ mode activated. BMW Group

The SPORT+ mode is another level of BMW’s Driving Experience Control, providing a more aggressive and engaging driving experience than the standard SPORT mode. This mode is designed for drivers who want the most dynamic performance from their BMW.

When you select SPORT+ mode, several changes occur in addition to those in SPORT mode:

Dynamic Stability Control (DSC): SPORT+ mode often modifies the Dynamic Stability Control settings. This allows for more wheel slip and less intervention from the stability control system, providing a more spirited and engaging drive. However, it’s worth noting that this requires a higher level of driving skill and should be used responsibly.

Traction Control: Traction control may also be loosened, allowing for more tire slip. This can lead to faster acceleration and the ability to perform controlled slides, but it also increases the risk of losing control if not handled correctly.

Transmission Behavior: In vehicles with an automatic transmission, SPORT+ mode may enable a manual shift mode. This allows drivers to manually control gear changes using either the gear selector or paddle shifters on the steering wheel if equipped.

Throttle Response, Steering, and Suspension: The throttle response becomes even more aggressive, the steering becomes more direct, and the suspension becomes firmer in SPORT+ mode compared to SPORT mode. This provides an even more dynamic and responsive driving experience.

SPORT+ mode is designed for maximum performance and handling, and as such, it increases fuel consumption and decreases comfort compared to other modes. It is most suitable for use on a racetrack or similar controlled environments where you can fully explore the vehicle’s performance safely.

Remember, driving in SPORT+ mode requires a good understanding of vehicle dynamics and control. Always drive responsibly, and ensure your driving style is adapted to the current road conditions and traffic laws, regardless of the driving mode selected.


Available on select models, the ADAPTIVE mode automatically adjusts the vehicle’s settings based on the driving style and road conditions. It uses data from the navigation system and the vehicle’s sensors to anticipate the road ahead and prepare the vehicle accordingly.

BMW G11 7 Series driving experience switch with ADAPTIVE and eDRIVE modes. BMW Group

What is The Difference Between Transmission SPORT Mode and Driving Experience Switch SPORT Mode?

When you shift your BMW’s gear selector into “Sport” mode (often labeled as “S” or “DS” on the selector), it primarily changes the vehicle’s transmission behavior. It doesn’t engage the full “SPORT” or “SPORT+” mode via the Driving Experience Control switch. The gear selector’s Sport mode has its own set of unique characteristics:

Changes in Transmission Behavior

Higher Shift Points: The transmission holds gears longer, allowing the engine to rev higher before shifting to the next gear. This gives you more power at your disposal when accelerating.

Downshifts Sooner: When you begin to slow down or brake, the transmission downshifts sooner, keeping the engine revs higher. This provides better engine braking and ensures that the engine is ready to deliver power if you suddenly accelerate.

More Aggressive Shifts: The transmission may shift gears more quickly to deliver power more immediately.

These changes make the driving experience more dynamic and responsive, which can be enjoyed during spirited driving.

However, it’s worth noting that the Sport mode via the gear selector does not typically affect other vehicle parameters like throttle response, steering feel, or suspension settings. Those broader changes are usually part of the “SPORT” or “SPORT+” modes available through the Driving Experience Control switch.

Do Driving Experience Modes Affect the Transmission?

Yes, the driving experience modes in a BMW vehicle do affect the transmission, but this impact may vary depending on the specific model and transmission type (manual, automatic, or semi-automatic).

Here’s a general idea of how each mode can impact the transmission:

ECO PRO Mode: In this mode, the transmission is adjusted to shift at lower RPMs (Revolutions Per Minute), prioritizing fuel efficiency over performance. For automatic transmissions, the car will shift into higher gears more quickly to reduce engine revs.

COMFORT Mode: This is the default mode and provides a balance between performance and efficiency. The transmission’s shift points are set to provide a comfortable driving experience, ensuring smooth gear changes.

SPORT Mode: In SPORT mode, the transmission’s shift points are changed to higher RPMs, allowing the engine to use more of its power before shifting gears. This results in a more responsive and dynamic driving experience. For automatic transmissions, this means the vehicle will hold gears longer and downshift more aggressively when braking or decelerating.

SPORT+ Mode: This mode enhances the SPORT mode settings, allowing for even higher revs before shifts and more aggressive downshifts.

ADAPTIVE Mode: In this mode, the transmission adapts to your driving style and current driving conditions. It utilizes navigation and sensor data to anticipate the road ahead and adjust the transmission behavior accordingly.

Remember, these descriptions are fairly general, and the actual impact can vary based on the specific BMW model and its features. Always refer to your vehicle’s owner’s manual or consult with a BMW professional for the most accurate information.


BMW’s driving modes provide drivers with the ability to tailor their vehicle’s driving dynamics to their personal preferences and the driving situation. Whether you’re seeking maximum efficiency, ultimate comfort, or dynamic performance, BMW’s driving modes have you covered. By understanding what each mode offers, you can maximize your BMW driving experience and enjoy everything your vehicle has to offer.

Georg Meier

BMW technician since 1996, began his automotive journey in 1993 as an apprentice mechanic at Automag, the world's oldest BMW dealership located in Munich. With years of experience and dedication under his belt, Georg has garnered a wealth of knowledge about the intricacies of BMW vehicles. His profound love for the brand led him to found BIMMERIST website, where he now shares his expertise and insights with fellow enthusiasts.

Post navigation

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *