Exclusive: 2014 BMW M3 to Use Electric Power Steering

A well placed source at BMW M in Garching recently tipped us to the idea that M is looking to introduce Electric Power Assisted Steering in the next M3, codenamed F80 and scheduled to launch as a sedan for model year 2014. According to this source; Porsche is being praised for the system in the new to market 991 which is EPAS, so why can ‘t M do the same in the M3? We also learned that BMW and Porsche are using ZF as the supplier for these systems. The steering tuning and algorithms would be manufacturer specific but the hardware would be similar if not identical.

There is some efficiency gains with EPAS systems because they, unlike traditional hydraulic offerings, do not draw engine power unless needed and 90% of all driving is done in a straight line where there is no need for power assistance. If the EPAS is not pulled at the last minute in favor of a traditional hydraulic system (as was rumored with the M5/M6) the electronic programming would need to have significantly more feel before the limit than BMW ‘s current EPAS offerings to keep critics to a minimum. In the US BMW uses EPAS in the latest 3,5, and 6 series models. The current BMW system dials in enough feel to allow the driver to make corrections but that is not communicated early enough in some situations- many bemoan the change.

We hope BMW will utilize a system that regulates the torque output of the electric assist rather than just dial down the power level as that seems to make all the difference in terms of feel.

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  • Evan

    I’ll take the feel-full hydraulic system and lose out on the small efficiency gain.

    What happened to electric-powered hydraulic pumps? The one in my R50 MINI is full of feedback and doesn’t run off the engine, unless I’m mistaken. The change to EPAS is the reason I ordered an end of production E91 after driving the F30.

    Maybe I am one of the people bemoaning the change, but at least keep the //M cars with the hydraulic system. I mean, it’s the M3! If you’re silly enough to buy it for the badge alone then you shouldn’t care how it drives so let those who do care about the drive have the best steering system available. Seems simple to me.

    • Mnicpt

      I’m also bemoaning the change.  Recently drove the new X3 and 3 series and didn’t like the smoother feel.  Don’t like to say it was loose as the steering hasn’t lost it’s responsiveness.  It just feels softer.  I thought Sport mode would change it as it does in my MINI, but to no avail.

  • Adam

    It’s the M3… if they mess it up, all truly is lost.  But I have to have some faith in Garching, I mean they are the best of the best, if anyone is capable of making a good system its them!

  • Adam

    Michael, any word from this source on whether or not the system has proper feel on par with the current M3’s or no?

    • BimmerFile_Michael

      It is different, just like the 991 vs 997. The feel is there but the “noise” is not and that is what some people can’t wrap their head’s around. What a lot of people think is feel is just noise/ static that has no value to the driver for inputs. That is toned down but actual communication is on par with the hydraulic in many aspects.

      We’ll have more on this… 

      • Adam

        Thanks for the clearification Michael, looking forward to hearing more on the topic.

      • Evan

        Maybe this is an excuse to go drive the 991… 🙂

        And I understand the difference between tactile feel and noise and there is an obvious loss of tactile feel with the current BMW EPAS system. I have faith in the engineers behind the roundel but only because of what they have historically done to balance incredible driving dynamics with everything else (safety, efficiency, design).

        • BimmerFile_Michael

          I didn’t mean to doubt you- just was using a general descriptor for those that read the comments. You are absolutely correct the current BMW system loses tactile feel- they have it dialed in to provide just enough info right before it is too late to make a correction. Now is that because they wanted it like that due to the new target audience- probably, but the M audience (hopefully) wants real deal feel!