Your BMW M3/M4 Will Sound Different After An Over-The-Air Software Update

Good news, potentially, if you weren't a fan of how it sounded before

2021 BMW M3 Competition
We’d conventionally talk about how a car sounds in terms of mechanical hardware comprising the engine and exhaust — not anymore. (Images: BMW)

The new version of BMW’s remote software (through iDrive 7) will change up your M3 or M4.

One particular phrase you’ll see crop up more and more often in the new car sphere is “over-the-air update”. It’s the capability of manufacturers to push tweaks and fixes in an effort to generally improve their cars, whether it’s on the media side with infotainment bugs, or in some cases with how the car itself actually functions. Automakers say this will keep electric cars feeling fresh for longer, but the updates apply to internal combustion cars as well. Take the BMW M3 and M4, which are getting a fix to “improve” how they sound.

Specifically, BMW says: “BMW M3 and M4 drivers will be inspired by a refinement of the sound when starting the engine and clearer audio confirmation of gear changes and changes in shifting loads in vehicles equipped with the 8-speed M Steptronic gearbox.” It applies to the augmentation through the car’s speakers. After all, there’s only so much you can change to make it sound different without replacing the exhaust.

In the end, their announcement goes on, the changes mean that “the M driving experience will be even more emotional.”

What exactly does that mean? BMW doesn’t go into any technical details, but the aim here likely boils down to making it sound more dramatic (i.e. ‘louder’) in Sport or Sport Plus modes. The shifting loads point refers to the audible feedback you get when paddling your way through the gears in either direction: Update 21-07, as it’s called, seems to make that noise even clearer to give greater feedback. If you felt like you needed it in the first place, that is.

More functionality improvements

Beyond the sound change, the BMW M3 and M4 software update more or less contains the sort of conventional changes you’d expect. Refinements to the lane departure system, key detection improvements that can recognize the key in the passenger seat or second row, new Spotify and Pandora-related updates to BMW Connected Music, and BMW’s Digital Key availability for select Android phones. At the moment, owners can use the app if they own a Samsung Galaxy S21 or a Google Pixel 6/Pixel 6 Pro.