When it comes to making power, some folks might feel like, “Oh no, I didn’t get a 335i, I can’t make any power” – but that’s simply not true!
The fact is that if you’ve got one of these perky little N20 or N26 engines, there is a whole host of options to pull almost +100 wheel horsepower and 120+ ft/lb more torque with full-bolt on status. Theoretically, you can gain up to 93whp and 120+wtq with full bolt on and tune to match. For the sake of discussion here, we’ll be focusing on the N20 in the F30 328i, but if you have an F10 528i, F22 220i or 228i or a F32 428i, many of these bolt on upgrades for N20 also work for your application, too!
Before you get started modding, first, it’s important you know which motor you have in your 328i or 428i – N20 or N26. There’s an easy way to tell which is which. N20 is ULEV, whereas N26 is SULEV – look at the plate below and look for ULEV or SULEV. ULEV is N20, SULEV is N26. Thank you to Evolution Racewerks for the photo below:
Optimize the ECU of your N20 328i For Maximum Power
There are several options already available for the N20 as direct bolt on. All three of these can easily be installed or removed without a trace, so no worries about voiding your warranty. A tuner module like this is a great starting point for modifying your BMW N20 or N26 engine to give your 328i or 320i a whole lot more power, and a tune will be a great compliment that will let you get the most possible power out of your other upgrades. It’s worth noting that these are available for most BMW models with an N20 or N26 engine.
BMS Stage I Tuner for BMW N20
For those who prefer to customize their tune, the BMS Stage 1 Tuner is a great starting point, and just connects to four sensors in the engine bay and Stage I gains are up to 30whp and 40wtq. The gains for this setup are lower than the two competing systems, but keep in mind – that’s just Stage I. At just $379.95, it’s also the most affordable of these three systems making it a great choice for the enthusiast on a budget.
Keep an Eye on Your Engine with a P3 Cars Vent Gauge for BMW F30 328i/335i
With a modified car, most of us want to know what our car is doing, but the OEM gauges can make it a little hard to get all the data you’re after. A P3Cars VentGauge gives you things like Boost/Vacuum, Intake Air Temperature, Exhaust Gas Temperature, Coolant Temperature, RPM, Speed, Throttle Position… seriously, there’s more things that these things can do than you are probably interested in reading about here. If you’re looking for a way to add a boost gauge, this is a really attractive way to do it, and the design means that you retain full use of your air vent, too. I’m a sucker for things that look factory, and if they made these for my car, I’d have one.
Get an extra 6whp and increase your MPG too with an N20/N26 Throttle Body Spacer
Beyond just upgrading the stuff ahead of the throttle body, did you know that by just adding a spacer between your throttle body and intake manifold your can pick up an extra 6 whp, 10wtq and even potentially improve your fuel economy. Unlike that “tornado” junk that made the rounds a few years ago, throttle body spacers actually work – by increasing the runner length of the intake manifold, power and torque is increased. In addition to increasing the runner length, special rifling in the spacer optimizes the combustion cycle for a more complete burn, and works with any intake system, stock or aftermarket.
Upgrade Your BMW N20 Intake for Optimum Power
Depending on how much you want to spend and how serious you are about performance, there are several high performance intake options to suit your taste, build and budget. Choose an intake the suits your style, or ask a Modification Expert which system might be the best fit for you.
One of our favorite options is this sealed-airbox type intake system from Injen Technology. This Injen Cold Air Intake for BMW N20/N26 328i features metal construction and tuned intake pipes to yield higher gains, faster spool and better throttle response – let me tell you from personal experience, with an Injen intake, you WILL hear your turbo spool and the pressure valve’s little chirps, too. It’s a lot of fun. Beyond the great sound, the tuned intake yields 22whp and 9wtq at 2270rpm, the greatest horsepower gain of the three systems we’ve discussed here and at $383.95, it’s right in the middle of the range. This system would be comparable to the aFe Magnum Force intake as it’s going to be best for someone who likes a more aggressive tone and razor-sharp tip-in response. Of course, like the Magnum GT, its metal construction does mean it’s also less resistant to heat soak.
All three of these systems are a great choice for almost any build, and it’s simply a question of preference.
Keep Cool and Make More Power More Consistently with a Wagner Tuning Performance Intercooler for BMW F30 328i/335i.
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – an intercooler is a critical supporting upgrade for anyone modifying their turbocharged car. The intercooler is often an expensive upgrade, but an intercooler will make a big difference in your car’s performance whether you’re stock or at full bolt on and also helps extend the life of your car. On a hot day, the stock intercooler can’t quite keep up and you may feel like the car is “bogging” and slower than usual. A larger intercooler prevents this from happening by keeping the air charge temperatures low and within a few degrees of ambient air, whereas just a few full-throttle pulls can easily overwhelm the stock intercooler.
With more performance mods or a tune, the intercooler holds you back more until you upgrade – the larger intercooler allows you to run more aggressive timing and boost, and the lower air charge temperatures prevent horsepower loss that would occur with the OEM unit. There are two great intercooler options available for the N20, both of which are from Wagner Tuning. These stepped core intercoolers offer the perfect, OEM-quality fit you can expect from a Wagner Tuning product and offer a massive 62% increase over stock.
Of course, we can’t talk about the intercooler without talking about the chargepipe. Like almost every other late model factory-boosted BMW, when you turn up the boost the chargepipes can’t stand up to the higher boost pressure, not to mention they’re quite restrictive – this bottlenecks boost pressure and as a result of these factors, the OEM Chargepipes have a tendency to crack, pop off or otherwise leak boost. Replacing your OEM chargepipes with a set of Evolution Racewerks BMW N20 Chargepipes will increase throttle response and decrease turbo lag and gains are similar to those of an intake. This is booth a reliability upgrade and a performance increase.
With turbo cars, there’s going to be some oil blow by in the intake tract no matter what you do even on an engine that is in perfect running order when you go wide open throttle. Where that blow by goes is up to you – you can let it accumulate in your intake tract and intercooler and coat everything with oily slime, or you can put a stop to it and help ensure the longevity of your engine with an oil catch can from BMS.
In Part II, we’ll get into upgrading your exhaust system, from Downpipes to Cat-Back Exhaust systems, we’ll be walking you through the pros and cons of the systems available for the N20 and N26, we’ll tell you how to get more power out of the car from the turbocharger back.
Thanks for reading – Click here to continue on to Best N20 Bolt On Mods Part II – Downpipes & Exhaust Systems for BMW F30 328i with N20 or N26 engines.
If you have questions about upgrading your BMW F30 328i, BMW F32 428i, F22 228i or F10 528i, we invite you to talk to the Modification Experts. Call our BMW specialist Alan Wei directly at 714-582-3330 x8006 or chat live with the Mod Experts at ModBargains.com or just give us a call at 714-582-3330 and any of our experts can help you make an informed purchasing decision so that you can trust that you’ll be totally happy with the upgrade you’re about to drop some cash on and don’t end up with a part you don’t like.