Originally written August 1, 2015 / Update 4/29/2016
For decades, the BMW 3-series has been the benchmark for Sport Sedan Performance, and that tradition continues today. The 3-series is better than ever, thanks in part to the two awesome turbo engines found under the hood of today’s F30 3-Series.
Today’s BMW 3-series is also very mod-friendly and responds incredibly well to performance and aesthetic enhancements. However, with so much to know, it can feel overwhelming for a newcomer to the modding scene.
In the next few paragraphs we’ll go over the best ways to mod out your F30 BMW 3-series, whether that’s a 320i, 320d, 328i or 335i – so without further ado, here’s the Best Mods for BMW F30 335i, 328i and 320i.
#1 Wheels Really Do Change Your 3-Series Appearance
F30 328i on Forgestar F14 Gunmetal Wheels
As we’ve said dozens of times, one of the simplest and most effective things to make your BMW 335i or 328i look better and more importantly, different than the next guy in the parking lot. Of course, with all those numbers like offset, width, tire width to keep track of when ordering a set of wheels, it can feel overwhelming to get the fitment you want.
No worries – our Mod Experts are here to help you out with guidance and advice to help you confidently make a well-informed buying decision (714-582-3330 or chat live at ModBargains.com).
Wheels for BMW 335i really set your car apart, we can’t tell you how many F30s we’ve had come through the shop still on the OEM wheels – and the before and after of the F30 328i above on Forgestar Wheels really illustrates our point.
So let’s take a look at some great wheels for BMW 328i and 335i.
F30 BMW 328i with Forgestar CF10 Matte Black on KW V1 Coilovers
While the F14 is more well known, Forgestar CF10 Wheels for BMW 335i or 328i are a also great choice – they look great on every color and are tailored to your specific tastes- each set of Forgestars is custom-manufactured to the offsets of your EXACT car – meaning they take into account your modifications like coilovers, big brake kits etc to deliver a high quality flow form wheel at a very reasonable price. Flow Form Wheels are lighter and stronger than Pressure-Cast and Gravity Cast wheels (many aftermarket wheels and most OEM wheels are LPDC or Gravity Cast) and come in at a whole lot less than a set of Forged wheels.
HRE FF01 Silver 19×8.5 ET35 / 19×10 ET40 on BMW F30
Another great option is a set of HRE FF01 Flow Form Wheels. Like Forgestars, HRE Performance Wheel‘s new “Flow Form” line is more affordable than their much more expensive traditional higher end Forged and Modular wheels.
The FF01 looks great on the car and gives the car a distinct look – the F30 above is rolling on Liquid Silver FF01’s in a staggered 19in fitment.
Sportline 8S 18×8.5 / 18×9.5 on F30 on H&R Springs
One of the all new and affordable options for the F30 is the Sportline 8S.
Sportline 8S 18×8.5 / 18×9.5 on F30 on H&R Springs
The Sportline 8S offers that classic BMW CSL style look, but with a lightweight and strong FLOW FORM wheel, starting at just $1280/set in 19in Gunmetal as of press time.
Sportline 8S 18×8.5 / 18×9.5 on F30 on H&R Springs
A relative newcomer to the flow form game,VMR Wheels‘ new 8-series line of wheels like the VMR V803 Wheels for F30 3-Series, offering a sleek parallel-twin 5-spoke design with just a hint of concavity, it lends a classic sporting look to any 3-series, and are some of the most reasonably priced Flow Form wheels on the market.
Of course, if flow form is a bit spendy for your “car parts” budget, VMR’s V710 is a classic wheel that looks as good on the F30 as it does on the E46. The V710 offers that classic German sports coupe look that helped make the oldschool E46 such an iconic car. These are cast wheels as well, meaning that they’re quite affordable even on a tighter budget.
The bold lines of the V721s give the F30 328i a much needed dose of aggression to take it out of Snoozeville and into Funtodrivetown.
Avant Garde M510 19×8.5 / 19×9.5 Dolphin Gray on F30 328i
Avant Garde Wheels offer some really unique options if something really specific is more your style.
Avant Garde M550 Hyper Silver 19×9 / 19×10 on F30 BMW 320d
Avant Garde M550 Wheels for BMW F30 3-Series also are a fantastic choice, as they look great on virtually any BMW, and can be had in your choice of matte black or hyper silver finishes. Since they’re not flow-form, they’re within reach for nearly everyone and put a distinct accent on your 3’s styling and still ligher than stock.
Whatever your budget, you can bet that the Mod Experts here at ModBargains and in the shop at ModAuto (our install facility) can set you up with a great looking wheel option that fits your F30’s offsets, your style and your budget – give em a call at 714-582-3330, chat live at ModBargains.com or just stop by the ModAuto shop in SoCal (La Habra on Lambert/Harbor Blvd) any time during business hours (8-5 M-Sat).
After installing a set of wheels however, you may notice that the wheel gap of the car at stock ride height doesn’t look ideal – so let’s talk about eliminating that wheelgap. Which brings us to our next mod.
#2 Eliminate That Body Roll with Suspension
BMW F30 320d on Vogtland Sport Springs
A drop makes all the difference in the world when it comes to making your new set of wheels really “pop”. Right now for the F30 3-Series, the options are a bit limited – but the basics of suspension apply regardless of what brand names are on the parts. There are two primary ways to lower your F30 suspension – springs, or coilovers. Since both springs and coilovers cost the same amount of money to install (because they take the same amount of labor), you have a decision to make.
With a lowering spring, the OEM shocks/struts are now about an inch below where they were designed to be “at rest”, and because they’re operating outside of their intended range, the OEM shocks wear out more quickly. This means that while it’s cheaper SHORT TERM to install JUST springs, but LONG TERM, it’s actually more expensive/time consuming – you’ll be doing more work when you have to take it all apart to replace the blown out OEM shocks – or factor in the expense of installing a set of shocks paired to work with the springs.
A set of H&R Sport Springs for BMW F30/F31 is a great place to start, lowering the car 1.75in up front and 1.6in at the rear for the sedan, which really sexes up the car’s stance. Check out the video above.
In short, a set of lowering springs is a great idea when paired with a set of shocks to match – but if you want control of how much you drop the car, there’s just one way to go.
Video Review of CKS Coilovers for BMW F30 335i
F30 335i with 19×8.5 ET35 / 19×9.5 ET45 VMR V705 Hyper Silver Wheels on CKS Coilovers
If you want to get that really low look, or want to have control over how much lower you are, then coilovers are the way to go. Coilovers allow you a range of adjustment for ride height, giving you control over exactly how low you are, and some coilovers feature adjustable shock absorbers, so you can tailor how the car rides and handles to your specific tastes as well.
When you consider that a coilover includes both springs and shock absorbers, the price difference over springs really isn’t that big, making them a better fiscal decision than you’d think.
Update – 04/20/2018
Now, if you’ve been looking at spring and shock combos but are really tempted by the height adjustability of coilovers then we may have a solution for you. The SoloWerks S1 Coilover kit for the F30 is as no-nonsense as it gets, you get a sporty spring paired beautifully with a high quality damper, and you can adjust the height. No damper settings to mess with and worry about messing up your ride quality, it’s just a great set of basic coilovers that are priced better than most spring/shock combos. We like them so much we’ve put out an episode of Know your Mods highlighting the features of this awesome product. Please keep in mind that these are intended for street use and the dampers are tuned as such. It will be a relatively soft ride and if you’re running wide wheels and tires you will want to make sure your fenders are rolled to accommodate the suspension travel.
If you want a lot of fancy adjustments on your coilovers without spending a lot of cash, look no further than BC Racing Coilovers for BMW F30 3-Series – offering 30 way adjustments for a hair over ten benjamins, these coilovers from BC Racing offer huge bang-for-the-buck when dropping your suspension.
ST Suspension Coilovers for the F30 328i and 335i lower the car with fixed damping at an extremely affordable pricepoint, however they’re Galvanized and not Stainless Steel like KW, meaning you may not want these in a snowbelt state.
If you feel like spending a bit more, or live somewhere that it snows/otherwise has sucky weather and need a stainless steel finished coilover, KW Coilovers for BMW F30 335i or KW Coilovers F30 328i are another option to lower your 3-series.
If you want Koni’s race-proven tech in your coilovers, check out Vogtland Force Adjustable Coilovers for BMW F30 – these adjustable coilovers feature Koni shocks paired with Vogtland’s in-house manfuactured springs and are quite affordable as well as TUV Approved.
If you want to be able to raise and lower your 3-series as the touch of a button, then a third option is for you – Airrex Air Suspension for BMW F30 will give you that functionality but the pricetag may be a bit too spendy for some.
Not sure what suspension option might be the best choice for you? You can always ask the Mod Experts for their input and advice – give em a call at 714-582-3330 or chat live at ModBargains.com
#3 Hear Your Turbo Sing With an Exhaust
The OEM BMW F30 Exhaust isn’t anything to write home about, and it’s not exactly interesting looking – and you can hardly hear the motor – hell, BMW added frigging SPEAKERS so you could hear it – heaven forbid you want actual engine noise! So let’s deal with that. Your exhaust makes up a huge part of the character of the rear of your car, but also changes the sound and performance of your car.
A great way to give your F30 a better tone is a Remus Exhaust for BMW 335i [F30] – Remus Exhaust is an OEM manufacturer for BMW and Audi so their work is outstanding quality and built to last, is loud enough to notice but not so much so that it’s detrimental – the simplest way of explaining it is that Remus is the “goldilocks” option that most people will like, but if you want something louder/bolder, there are other choices available.
Even in axleback form, there’s a modest power gain from a freer flowing muffler – you can see what we mean illustrated above on the dyno graph. Of course, the exhaust systems for BMW F30 3-Series aren’t restricted to just the 335i / 340i – we have some options for F30 328i models as well.
If you’ve got a turbo-four powered 328i or 320i, you’ve actually got a range of options to choose from- you can stay single exit, or spice up your rear end with a Remus Quad Exhaust for BMW F30 328i.
One of the mainstays of BMW performance parts is DINAN Engineering. One of the only tuners that’s officially approved by BMW AND maintains your factory BMW warranty. Check out the Dinan Free-Flow Exhaust for F30 335i if you’re wanting a bit more grumble and rumble, but don’t want to deal with drone or any warranty silliness.
Also available is the Dinan Free-Flow Exhaust for F30 328i, which offers the same great exhaust note to the F30 crowd with gorgeous distinctive DINAN tips.
A new player in the BMW F30 Exhaust market is AWE Tuning. Long renowned for their outstanding, top-notch work on Audi and Porsche vehicles, they’ve now expanded into BMW models including the F30. The AWE Tuning Cat-Back Exhaust for BMW F30 335i is highly customizable like all of AWE Tuning’s exhaust systems, and it’s available in axleback or catback forms, with or without resonators with your choice of 90/102mm tips.
If you’ve got a 328i, there are some other great options.
Check out the AWE Tuning Touring Edition Quad Exhaust System for F30 328i on this particular F30 here. This system will give the 3 a much better sound, drawing the best tone possible out of the turbo four under the hood while sexing up the bland 328i rear end with a set of gorgeous quad tips.
Not to mention, the AWE Tuning systems make power. Check out the dyno graph for yourself – AWE is meticulous about testing and data – there’s a solid 10hp/7tq increase across the power band for a consistent power increase.
These AWE Tuning systems look and sound great, and like Remus, delivers dyno proven horsepower and torque gains and outstanding tone.
Since the F30 3-Series is a newer model, the selection as of press time is a bit limited, so be sure to check out our selection of F30 Exhaust systems here.
If you’re not sure about what exhaust system might be best, you can always ask the Mod Experts (714-582-3330).
#4 Make Big Power – Whether that’s N20 or N55!
AWE Tuning S-Flo Carbon Fiber Intake for F30 328i adds +16hp / +17tq
AWE Tuning S-Flo Carbon Fiber Intake for F30 335i adds +9hp / +15tq
Yeah, we know, it’s true the N55’s SINGLE TURBO doesn’t make as much power outright as the N54, the N55 under the hood of the 335i still has PLENTY of power potential – and for that matter, so does the 328i and 320i powered by the N20. And what’s more, the new B58 makes a tsunami of power with a bit of modification, surprising a few F80 M3s and F82 M4s with shocking speed.
Injen Technology has long been a player in the F30 Intake System market, and their Short Ram tuned Air Intake for the 335i streamlines airflow for enhanced power and throttle response and features a heat shield to help isolate the inlet from hot underhood air, further enhancing power.
Well engineered and priced within reach, this Injen Short Ram Air Intake for F30 BMW 335i is a great option.
this BMS Performance Intake for F30 335i features a molded intake tube and high flow filter but doesn’t feature a heat shield. This system enhances airflow significantly but doesn’t have all the features of a more expensive system. Offering a great pricepoint at the expense of extras like a heat shield, this BMS intake is a great choice for power for the enthusiast on a budget.
Both of these are great choices, good for about 10whp and 15wtq at least.
We mentioned there’s quite a bit for the F30 328i as well – we cover this in greater detail in our Best Bolt On Mods for BMW N20 Engines (Part I), but we’ll talk about a few.
One of our favorite options is this 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 one of the biggest horsepower gains of any N20 intake system on the market.
While we’re talking about intakes, it’s just as important that we take a moment to mention the chargepipes. Evolution Racewerks offers a high flow Chargepipe for the F30 BMW 335i as well as a Evolution Racewerks Chargepipe for F30 BMW 328i which not only enhances horsepower and torque significantly, but the torque curve comes on much earlier and stronger than the stock chargepipe and increases torque across the entire powerband.
Keep Cool and Make More Power More Consistently with Big Intercooler
On a hot day, ever feel like the car is “bogging” and slower than usual? There’s a reason for this – the stock intercooler can’t quite keep up with how hot it is outside. 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 on a warm day can overwhelm the stock intercooler.
Wagner Tuning Competition Intercooler VS OEM Side-By-Side Comparison
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 a somewhat expensive upgrade, but an intercooler will make a big difference in your 328i or 335i’s performance whether you’re stock or at full bolt on, and also helps extend the life of your car. A Wagner Tuning Performance Intercooler for BMW F30 328i/335i is a solid option, offering a major decrease in air charge temperature.
Air Charge Temperature Dyno Graph OEM (RED) vs Wagner Tuning (Blue)
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.
And of course, there’s tuning. For CA guys, we’re sorry, you’re kinda out of luck. For everyone else in the 49 other states and internationally, read on.
The JB4 is famous among turbo BMW enthsuiasts for one very good reason: It kicks ass. The BMS JB4 Tuner for F30 BMW 335i with N55 motors offers a much more stark 60hp 80tq gain (for Stage II) and response is hugely improved with just one mod (dyno shown has ONLY a downpipe and the JB4).
The JB4 offers a ton of features but you’ll need to learn how to use it to take advantage of all the clever widgets it offers, like shift lights, open/closing exhaust valves on demand, boost gauge and a whole host of neat things it can do, too much to list here. The JB4 adapts to your modifications and should you be planning to go maximum power with it, the JB4 can facilitate up to a 100whp/120wtq gain on a car with full bolt on modifications supporting the tune and it’s not going to break the bank either.
Of course there’s a version for the N20 as well.
The BMS Stage I Tuner for BMW N20 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.
There are more tuning options available and more will certainly hit the market with time, and eventually, there will be some CA-legal tuning options out there for you Cali guys.
This is just a quick rundown of just a few options – check out our Best Bolt On Mods Guide for F30 335i with N55 Engines here and our Best Bolt On Mods Guide for F30 328i with N20 Engines (Part I) here – click here for N20 Bolt Ons (Part II).
There are always new performance parts hitting the market, so be sure to ask a Mod Expert (714-582-3330) if you’re not sure about any mod or have questions.
#5 Stand Out With Exterior Mods
M-Sport Rear Bumper for BMW F30 with Meisterschaft Catback Exhaust
After dropping the car, fitting a set of wheels and livening up the car with a few performance tweaks, giving the car a look to match is the next logical step. So let’s take a look at a few of the ways you can do that.
F80 M3 Style Front Bumper for F30 on F30 328i
One of the quickest ways to give the car a new look is a M-Sport Front Bumper, but if you already have one, there are some options to set yourself apart a bit more – like a V2 Style Carbon Fiber Front Lip for BMW F30 3-Series like the 335i below.
If the M look is more your thing, the F80 M3 Style Bumper for Non-M BMW F30 3-series is just what the doctor ordered for you – offering the style of the M3 but in a bumper that fits the narrower front end of the standard F30, giving your 3-series a much more aggressive look.
And the Cabrio, also fitted with a Performance Style Carbon Fiber Front Lip Spoiler for BMW F30 M-Sport. However this car still has one thing most cars we get here don’t – its original Chrome Kidney Grilles.
Small details like the Kidney Grilles go a long way in cleaning up the appearance of your BMW 3-Series Exterior.
Here’s an F30 on Forgestar CF5V‘s fitted with a Carbon Fiber M-Sport Style Front Lip for BMW 3-Series.
The F30 usually comes standard with ugly chrome kidney grilles, and so these Gloss Black Kidney Grilles for BMW F30 3-Series are a great way to clean up the front end in the space of about 10 minutes.
Speaking of details, Carbon Fiber Mirror Covers for BMW F30 3-Series are an easy way to tie together any other Carbon Fiber Accents you may have and gives the mirrors a bit more flair.
Another simple way to clean up the car is by getting rid of those ugly amber front reflectors. A set of Painted Front Reflectors for BMW F30 3-Series solves the problem by replacing the reflector with one that’s been painted to match the body color precisely, creating a clean, uniform look.
Hate your front plate but legally have to display it? Don’t want to drill holes in the bumper? The No-Holes Front License Plate Holder for BMWs fits the F30 as well, using the front Tow Hook hole as the mount for your front license plate for a clean way to display the front plate.
There are a few ways to spice up the rear end of the car as well – a Performance Style Rear Diffuser for F30 BMW 3-Series (available for single, dual exit or quad tips!) adds some extra aerodynamic enhancements to the rear bumper of any M-Sport BMW 3-Series.
As long as you’re doing a diffuser, a trunk spoiler is something you shouldn’t skip either – a Carbon Fiber Trunk Spoiler for BMW F30 3-Series Sedan adds a nice bit of flair to match other carbon accents or just add some sporting character to your average 3.
If all Carbon-Fiber is your thing, this Carbon Fiber Performance Style Rear Diffuser for BMW F30 3-Series w/M-Sport dials up the aggression level a couple notches over the plastic BMW version – and a matching Performance Style Carbon Fiber Trunk Spoiler compliments the look brilliantly.
For you LCI guys, check out this F30 fitted with a few BMW Performance Exterior Mods for BMW F30 LCI, this Melbourne Red F30 looks amazing, sporting a set of BMW Performance Carbon Fiber Mirror Covers for F30 3-Series on its mirrors…
Further exterior mods include a painted BMW Performance Front Splitter for BMW F30 M-Sport up front…
Rounding out the package in the rear is a painted BMW Performance Trunk Spoiler for BMW F30 3-Series, paired with a BMW Performance Carbon Fiber Rear Diffuser for F30 3-Series M-Sport, which is left in carbon fiber to tie in neatly with the carbon fiber mirror covers. The blend of painted and carbon fiber exterior mods works a lot better than you’d think.
Putting together a more finished package creates a more complete look.
Adding some Aero even makes ActiveHybrid3’s more interesting.
Check out the painted reflectors, gloss black kidney grilles and carbon fiber splitter – however the car wasn’t yet lowered and put on a set of great wheels, which is why Aero is one of the things to look at after wheels/tires.
This 328d got a lot more aggro with a Carbon Fiber Front Splitter to match the M-Sport front bumper.
Interested in changing up the look and performance of your BMW F30 3-Series? Ask the Mod Experts what exterior upgrades are available for your car to change the style of your ride. Call us at 714-582-3330 for expert mod advice and schedule your installation at the Mod Auto shop today.
Story & Photos Nick Gregson
Some Photos from Vendors