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BMW E92 M3 Performance Tuning Guide

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Table of Contents

Introduction

The BMW E92 M3, part of BMW’s M-series, is a marvel of performance and engineering that represents the epitome of the iconic brand’s commitment to driving pleasure.

Closely related to the regular 3-series, the E92 M3 is a two-door coupe model designed to deliver exceptional performance and excellent quality.

Under the hood, the BMW E92 M3 houses a 4.0-liter V8 engine, which was a significant departure from the inline 6-cylinders engines that powered its predecessors.

This engine delivers an impressive 414 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque.

While obviously a shed load of power, you may be wondering if there are ways to further improve the performance of you E92 M3.

The answer is YES!

We’ll show the best proven ways to increase the performance of your M3 by increasing the power, stopping power as well as handling.

Whether you want some additional performance for the street or for the track, this article has you covered.

Let’s get started!

Aftermarket Air Intake/Filter

If you are looking for increased induction sound on the throttle and minor performance gains, then an aftermarket intake or filter is a great mod.

This is often one of the first mods installed by enthusiast owners due to the affordability and ease of install. 

You have the option of an open filter such as a cone filter/cold air intake or a drop in panel filter.

If you are after the maximum sound, then an open intake is your best bet. These kits will give you a deeper growl on the throttle to compliment the V8 exhaust note. 

While often labelled as cold air intakes, the factory airbox on the E92 M3 is already well optimised for sucking in cold air.  As such, you won’t tend to get much cooler air from these kits.

The main benefit is the sound enhacement on these cars.

If you don’t want an intake and want to retain the factory airbox, then you can install an aftermarket panel filter from a manufacturer like K&N.

These panel filters can give you a little more sound and in theory can provide additional air flow over the standard paper filter. They also have the added benefit of lasting longer than the standard filters.

The best intake for performance and sound is the Macht Schnell S2 intake. This retains the factory airbox, allowing for cool air to enter the engine while maximising the flow.

Performance Exhaust

Upgrading the exhaust system on your E92 M3 can be an efficient way to unlock additional power and hear that lovely V8 in all it’s glory.

The standard exhaust presents restrictions at various points throughout the system, creating additional backpressure and limiting performance. 

The first point of restriction is the primary catalytic converters. 

A key player in emission control, catalytic converters convert hazardous pollutants within the engine’s exhaust gases into less harmful substances.

They restrict exhaust flow due to their complex internal configuration, which can cost you power.

One of the most common upgrades to get around this is the fitment of test pipes or high flow sport cats.

The main difference between the two is that sport cats are road legal and test pipes aren’t due to emissions. 

Test pipes simply bypass the primary cats with a straight pipe, freeing up additional power and sound. 

Sports cats replace the standard catalytic converters with high performance free flowing alternatives that free up power but also remain legal for emission tests. 

After this section of the exhaust we move into the cat-back/backbox section which muffles the sound of the exhaust.

People usually upgrade this for the sound increase, however you can free up a few ponies here as well by switching to a performance cat-back. 

E92 M3 Catback Exhaust

Performance Cat-back

For the E92 M3

Remap

While remaps are more synonymous with cars utilising forced induction, a remap on top of some additional mods can definitely unlock extra ponies and improve driveability. 

Provided your engine is healthy and in good shape, you can expect power gains of 25hp-30hp with a remap. This can be even more when combined with other supporting modifications. 

It isn’t always about the overall power gained though. A remap can also increase torque across various points of the rev range, making your M3 feel more responsive and lively which can be ideal for daily driving. 

Stay away from generic flash tunes and opt for a bespoke remap on a rolling road (dyno) from a reputable tuner. Ideally find a local tuner who is familiar with the S65 platform so they can ensure increased performance with reliability. 

Forced Induction

While you can gain power from a remap and some exhaust and intake modifications, you’re not going to get a massive power increase without the use of forced induction. 

While an exciting prospect, this can be a complex upgrade that can often require deep pockets. 

The starting question is always: “Do I go with a supercharger or turbocharger?”

With the E92 M3’s, the supercharger route is the most common and tends to be cheaper. 

ESS Tuning offer a supercharger kit that can take the power output to 625bhp which will likely be enough for most owners.

Due to the linear nature of the power delivery with superchargers, the smoothness of the V8 engine is maintained when going down the supercharger route. 

This kit comes with everything you need to install including the intake manifold, injectors, ECU software and more.

If you are determined on going down the turbo route, there aren’t many readily available kits out there. Due to the nature of the V8 engine and engine bay, finding the room and sorting the plumbing for a turbocharged system is challenging. 

As such, you will likely need a custom kit fabricated by a tuning shop which will likely be very expensive.

Coilovers

If you’re looking for a way to not only enhance handling performance but also the visual stance of the car, then coilovers are the perfect solution. 

With coilovers, the shock absorber and spring are integrated into the one system, and provide better performance over lowering springs. 

The most noticeable enhancement offered by coilover suspension is the improved handling.

Coilovers aid in reducing body roll and greatly improving cornering abilities. The use of stiffer springs means that the body of the vehicle doesn’t lean as much when taking a corner, offering a flat, more confident, and controlled driving experience. 

Unlike traditional shocks and spring systems, coilovers provide unrivalled levels of adjustability. Allowing for height adjustment, spring preload and damping adjustment – they are the the ultimate upgrade for anyone who likes to drive their M3 hard.

Apart from improved handling and performance, coilovers allow you to alter the ride height of your M3, providing a more aggressive and sporty look. 

When it comes to selecting coilovers, you have various options. The set you go for will depend on how you intend on using your the car. 

For street use, you will want a set that allows you to maintain comfort while also increasing performance. 

For track use, you will likely want a set that offer maximum adjustability to really dial in the suspension for taking turns. 

For a quality set that you can use for both street and track, check out the BC Racing Coilovers. 

E92 M3 BC Racing Coilovers

BC Racing Coilovers

For the E92 M3

Brake Upgrades

Stopping power is often something that is overlooked when tuning cars, but is a vital part of making your E92 M3 a proper all-rounder performer.

While the standard brakes are decent on this car, you may be wanting a little extra stopping power or a brake setup which is more durable for hard driving sessions. 

Many owners first thought is to jump to big brake kits when they think of upgrading their braking system, however this may not be necessary.

It all depends on your needs and how you drive. Is it for some occasional spirited driving sessions or is it for heavy track use? 

The first real problem you may encounter with the standard brakes is brake fade. This will be most noticeable after longer hard driving sessions with sustained braking, particularly at high speeds.

This can be mitigated by switching to upgraded pads. There are various pads out there that fit the standard calipers.

Alongside upgraded pads, the next logical upgrade would be high temperature brake fluid and braided steel lines. This should be an essential upgrade if you are tracking your E92 M3.

Past this point if you feel like the brakes still aren’t up to the task, then you can look at a big brake kit and upgrading the discs and calipers. 

AP Racing and Brembo offer great big brake kits for those looking for serious topping performance. 

Bucket Seats

When it comes to increasing performance, bucket seats are often overlooked as they don’t directly contribute to increased power or handling. 

However when it comes to the sensation and “feeling” of increased performance, bucket seats are a fantastic addition.

Bucket seats offer superb body support over the OEM seats.

The firm bolstering on the sides and the seat’s cradle-like shape envelop the driver, firmly holding you in place during tight corners or hard accelerations.

With this added stability, you can push your M3 to its limits while maintaining a high level of control and not having to endure an ab workout while driving. 

We mentioned at the start of this section that bucket seats don’t directly contribute to increased performance of the car, although this isn’t technically true a lot of the time. 

Most bucket seats are designed to be lightweight, reducing the overall weight of the car. If you track your M3, you’ll know every bit of weight saved can make a noticeable difference to handling, braking and acceleration. 

Finishing Thoughts

While providing excellent performance in standard form, the E92 M3 still leaves some additional room for additional performance gains. 

While you won’t receive the same bang for buck power increases as you would normally expect with turbocharged cars, the naturally aspirated V8 engine still responds well to some carefully chosen upgrades.

On a healthy engine with the right performance upgrades, you can expect around 450hp.

If you want to go higher, then you will need to look at forced induction. 

Happy modding!