Unfortunately, BMW hasn't really exploited the full potential of the system. They haven't really explored the upper limits of the power that it could give them.
They also haven't explored the possibilities of using it to boost fuel-efficiency into the stratosphere, as it certainly could.
Thing that would be really neat would be to combine this with the variable compression tech that Saab is working on. Imagine having the ability to control timing, lift, mix, AND compression. We're talking infinitely variable engine here.
Let'* say we take the V10 BMW is putting into the M-5 this year. Engineer in a much more powerful computer, to handle all the extra input/output you'd need to run a motor this complex.
Now think driving modes.
Run the engine down to low power (say about 40-50hp), for cruising on the freeway, or switching to a normal mode (200-300hp) for in-city driving, and maybe a sport mode(anywhere from 400-700hp depending on how strong they build the rest of the motor) for serious, hard-core hooliganism. All without the undesirable side-effects of shutting down part of the motor, like GM and Dodge want to do.
Now, add to that motor the computer controlled manual tranny technology from Audi, that uses TWO output shafts and shift forks, and pre-selects the next gear, cutting even computer controlled shift times by almost half. This system beats the shift time of ANY other manumatic by a good margin, and is smoother than most, as well.
If you want to get really nuts, think about adding a true hybrid system to that motor.
Say, gas engine drives the rear, with electric motors in the front wheels. Make the motors about 150hp each.(Which would also act as a limited AWD system.)
You could pretty easily see 100-150MPG with a setup like that, without having to give up any luxury items or decrease the performance of a sports-car, OR having to pay guzzler tax, AND it would easily be a ULEV so you could get a tax-break in some countries.
And, for the totally insane, add on Bose'* active suspension.
Ooh, ooh, AND the variable downforce underbody from the Ferarri Enzo!
OK, I'm drooling, and the car doesn't even exist.
I think that within the next ten years, someone in the auto industry is going to have the same brainstorm I just did.
And I can't even patent it!