“Easter Eggs” in Car Software

I think we all know what “Easter Eggs” are – not the chocolate kind, the kind that are programmer’s “in jokes” hidden within software. Well it seems this has now extended to cars. Yes, really!

There’s apparently a “cheat code” in the software running the BMW M3’s sequential manual gearbox (SMG): Press the right buttons in the right order and the car will launch you from a standing start after first revving the engine to 5,000 rpm. But don’t look for any instructions in the owners’ manual – this feature is decidedly undocumented.

There is however a catch. In Europe, doing more than 15 such “launches” voids the car’s warranty. In the USA, laws prohibit such stipulations, so U.S.-spec cars are programmed to wind up to only 2,500 rpm.

If you just happen to have a BMW M3 with a Sequential Manual Gearbox (or better still be driving someone else’s :-) here’s what you do:

* Switch off the stability system

* Select ‘Shift Program Six’

* Switch the engine to Sport Mode

* With the gear shift in Drive, hold it in the downshift position

* Press the accelerator (the engine will rev to the pre-programmed rpm and hold)

* Now release the gear shift!

The car will launch forward violently (depending on the road surface, probably accompanied with much screeching and smoking of tyres) and the engine’s revs will climb quickly, so be prepared to change up sharpish!

This would appear to be the first automotive “Easter Egg,” though it would seem just a matter of time before they become standard fare.


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