2 Top Modern BMW Engines for Tuners and Horsepower Addicts. Let me grab my flame fit in advance as I sense this may turn awful rather quickly. When it comes to modern BMW engines (lets define modern-day as engines produced by BMW after the year 2000) there are two engines that stand apart to me. Two engines that ideally represent the future of the “Ultimate Driving Machine”, and likely vehicle engines as a whole. The naturally aspirated folks are going to eliminate me– BMW’s finest contemporary engines are the N54 and S55.
Natural Goal is Dead
To get this out of the way, I am in no way disrespecting naturally aspirated (n/a) BMW engines. I would own a naturally aspirated BMW well before many other n/a motors. Natural aspiration is old-fashioned. It is dead to me, and it is definitely dead to modern performance cars. One aggravating problem I frequently see concerning newer BMW engines is something along the lines of, “However it’s not naturally aspirated. It has no character.” Maybe this resonates with others, and I would like someone to explain this to me. I stop working to see why a turbo engine can’t have as much, or more, character than a n/a engine.
My N54 definitely has a distinct character. Each time I let it loose the N54 eats it up, and relatively begs for more. When I lastly go back to normal driving concerned its had enough, I just picture my engine making fun of my issue as it has yet to even break a sweat. The sound with catless downpipes and dual cone intakes is intoxicating; it is an unique sound at each RPM and throttle input. Peaceful throughout regular operation, yet a moderate deep note in the midrange followed by a smooth, greater pitched note as it grabs the redline.
Add in the noises from the double cone consumption and it is really a special, satisfying turbo engine. Some days my N54 runs much better than others; the engine certainly informs you when it is ready to conquer the world, or rather, when it would prefer to merely dust a few Mustangs around town. Maybe I am just lost in the world of automobile engines if that is not character.
Character aside, turbo engines are a brighter future for engines. With emission laws constantly progressing and becoming stricter, among my greatest concerns is a future filled with uninteresting electric, self-driving vehicles. We may grumble about the underwhelming noise of the S55 now, however in twenty years we might be willing to do anything to hear that noise once again. Fret not, as BMW is forging ahead of high performing, fuel efficient, low emission turbo engines.
BMW May Be Making the Best Turbo Engines worldwide
Typically, I questioned if BMW sort of messed up with the N54; did they mistakenly raise the bar too high for future turbo Inline 6’s? The N54 was BMW’s first attempt at mass producing a twin turbo, direct injected engine. It made its launching in the mid-range 335i, rather than the coveted M3 presumably to exercise some early kinks. From its preliminary release, tuning advancement just took a couple of years prior to a basic tune and a couple of bolt-ons made it more powerful than an S65, the 4.0 L naturally aspirated V-8 discovered in the E9x M3.
BMW N54 Tuning Capabilities
As the years passed, even more advancements to tuning and modifying the N54 came around and shattered most everyone’s expectations. It occurred to me a few days ago how much N54 owners, particularly myself, take their engines for given. I found it enlightening to review some old online forum posts concerning the N54’s capabilities. There was not just a great deal of excitement in the early days of the N54, however also lots of concern regarding the reliability, durability, and upper-limits of the engine.
As individuals started pushing closer and closer to 500whp lots of believed the N54 was nearing the edge before we started to see countless blown motors. Afterall, an open-deck block design and cast pistons on a small 3.0 l engine shouldn’t be able to handle far more, right? Nope, it can. The N54 just kept going and going.
The upper limits seem in the 700+ whp variety although it is still difficult to state. There is no doubt, at those power levels you better have an exceptional, conservative tune with the right supporting mods. Regardless of the specific upper-limit, it’s high. Incredibly high when thinking about the cast pistons and open-deck block. And it’s not just the ceilings of the factory block and internals that make the engine so outstanding.
It’s the entire damn N54. I imply whatever. From the stock fueling back to the stock automatic transmission that can manage 500+ whp and torque. The tiny stock turbos efficient in making numbers in the low 500s. Of course, some parts have their weaknesses and the threat of blowing the stock turbos increases with power. Nevertheless, my point stays – that is a lot of power for a 3.0 l inline-6.
BMW N54 Reliability
Perhaps I’ve been fortunate, however it’s definitely stupid how difficult I press my N54, yet it keeps running like brand new. I am totally speechless, and mind blown. My N54 has actually been running a JB4, catless downpipes, and dual cone consumption for about 5 years and 35,000 miles. I’ve explore MHD back-end flash tunes, and frequently run a 25-35% E85 mix. It’s had its issues for many years, however overall, the issues have been minor, and the car has been cheap to maintain.
That is incredible provided how tough I’ve driven an engine that has actually been running with roughly 50% more power than in stock type, all with 110,000 miles. I can not count the variety of times it has actually seen 130mph+, nor the number of times I have actually introduced the car hard from a dig.
The conclusion: BMW made one hell of a turbo engine in the N54. Effective, capable, and trusted. Was it an accident that raised the bar too expensive, or can BMW simply develop one hell of a turbo inline-6?
The BMW S55
It ends up BMW might not have set the bar too expensive at all– go into the BMW S55. Structure off the fundamental design of the N54 and N55 engines, BMW appears to have actually nailed the S55. The engine is still reasonably new from a tuning point of view. Things require time to develop in the early years for apparent factors. It requires time to split the ECU and tune the engine.
Further, many cars are under guarantee for the very first 4-6 years, and very few owners are willing to risk voiding the warranty with aftermarket modifications. Yet, on paper, the S55 needs to crush the achievements of the N54. It is certainly already revealing a lot more prospective on stock turbos.
What Are the Upper Limits of the S55?
It’s far prematurely to understand for sure, but we can analyze what we currently understand. The S55 on stock turbochargers can make well above 550wtq and 500whp with a JB4, a couple of bolt-ons, and some E85. Toss on a set of Pure turbos and the S55 has the ability to make well over 600whp. There are currently a few built-motors running over 1000whp, however, I do not wish to include those examples as I am more interested in what the S55 can do on stock components. Right now it is all a guessing video game, however we do understand the stock components can handle into the 600+ whp area.
Related: The Complete BMW M3 Buyers Guide: Reliability, Performance Capabilities
What’s most excellent is the fact the engine is doing this on stock fueling, stock turbos, and an un-opened engine. Viewing as the N54 can manage over 700whp on cast pistons and an open-deck block, I do not believe it is unrealistic to anticipate 800-1000whp on the S55. Once again, that is absolutely nothing more than a guess based upon the more powerful engine design of the S55 compared to the N54. It will require time prior to enough individuals are testing the true upper-limits of the S55. However, 600whp is nothing except unbelievable with a couple of basic bolt-ons and E85, and is likely ample power for a vast majority.
BMW S55 Reliability
As previously pointed out, I think a significant factor the N54 was released in the 335i (and ultimately 135i, 535i, 1M, and so on) was to exercise the early reliability problems. The N54 had its fair share, which BMW dedicated to fixing through many recalls and extended guarantees on troublesome parts. BMW ultimately figured out the N54, which is now a fairly reliable engine.
The N55 was right away a more reputable engine from the start. Finally the S55 was launched. Far, there do not seem to be any considerable reliability problems or concerns. Given how much I trust the reliability of my N54, and the fact BMW exercised the early problems before launching a twin-turbo engine in the M3, I believe the S55 will be a really trusted motor for the majority of.
The N54 and S55 are the two finest BMW engines for anybody trying to find major horsepower
As emission laws continue to end up being more stringent, I highly believe turbocharged engines are a brighter prospective future of automotive engines, as opposed to electric engines. In order to save automobile enthusiasts from a boring future, there needs to be a company pushing the boundaries of smaller sized, more efficient turbocharged engines that remain powerful and exciting to drive.
In my viewpoint, BMW is doing simply that. The BMW N54 and S55 engines are shining examples of the abilities of turbocharging. 3 liter, inline-six engines pushing 700+whp on primarily stock components is absolutely nothing to snarl at. There are many exceptional turbo engines on the planet today, however, very few have the ability to run that type of power without substantial displacement or internal engines modifications. It is my opinion that BMW is currently producing the very best turbocharged 6 cylinder engines on the planet today, and the N54 and S55 are the two I would own.