Talk the Torque A home-built 330Cd with over 400hp and nearly 700lb ft of torque? We went to have a closer look. While we all know tuned #BMW
direct-injection diesels produce fantastic results, the question always is how far can you go? #E46 #330Cd
owner Chris Haynes decided to find out, with quite incredible results… Words: Steve Neophytou. Photography: Steve Hall.
While the stigma of diesel lumps being sluggish, unrefined engines built purely for economy is something that is hard to lose, BMW has probably done more to dispel this than any other manufacturer.
The M57 and more recently the N57 series of inline ‘six diesels have been at the forefront of diesel engine performance from their first release right up until the present day; and the amount of ‘best engine’ and ‘best diesel engine’ awards they have won is testament to that. More importantly for us, the drivers, is that BMW demonstrated to the world that true performance cars could really be diesel-powered, originally with the #330d
, then with the twin-turbo #335d
, and most recently with the #M550d
with its triturbo #N57S
engine. With the advent of the twin-turbo, and most recently tri-turbo diesel engines, the original single turbo version commonly found in the #E46
330d has been pushed out the limelight somewhat.
Understandably, a lot of people’s thoughts are that it can’t hope to compete with these newer versions fitted with multiple turbochargers and much higher fuel pressures without a level of tuning that would be totally economically unviable. While the standard performance figures are indeed miles apart, Chris Haynes and his awesome E46 330Cd prove that not only can diesels be fantastic all-round road and track weapons, but that, with a little thought and ingenuity, even a single turbo diesel can be tuned to incredible performance levels without breaking the bank.
Before we go any further, let’s lay this car’s figures on the table for you, as you’re no doubt dying to know. 407hp and 698lb ft at 2.5bar (36psi) boost on a Dyno Dynamics’ rolling road. This was no lucky run on a generous dyno either, in fact it’s the lowest of the figures the car has produced at its current spec, with 412hp and 750lb ft achieved on one rolling road, and 420hp and 700lb ft on another, but with three consistent runs on the same rollers producing the original figures, those are the ones Chris is happy to claim, and we’re more than happy to print.
While these numbers seem quite amazing, considering the twin-turbo 335d pushes out 282hp and 430lb ft, and even the tri-turbo M550d has a little less, with 381hp and 546lb ft, perhaps the most surprising thing about the engine is drivability has not been sacrificed. Comparing the figures in detail to the technological masterpiece that is the tri-turbo N57S, which uses its three turbos in both sequential and compound form to give a huge powerband from idle to the redline, is a good example of how impressive Chris’ work is. With just one turbo, none of the turbocharging tricks such as sequential activation and compounding can be used, making it much harder to solve the common diesel problem of a narrow powerband, but despite this, Chris has proved it is possible. While Chris’ engine loses out on torque up to 2600rpm in comparison to the M550d lump, he’s still got 300lb ft at under 2000rpm, 400lb ft by 2300rpm, and 500lb ft by 2500rpm, which is a massive amount of lowdown grunt in anyone’s book.
Further to this, while BMW claims the N57S produces 546lb ft between 2000 and 3000rpm, Chris’ car produces that much, and up to 150lb ft more, from 2600rpm to 3900rpm; actually a wider rpm range than the factory tri-turbo. When comparing horsepower things look just as impressive, with BMW claiming 381hp between 4000 and 4400rpm with the N57S, but the tuned M57N in Chris’ 330Cd you see on these pages produces that 381hp, or more, between 2900 and 4300rpm, and peaking over 25hp higher; despite having two less turbochargers and a lot less technology.
So while we’ve established this car produces amazing numbers, it’s important to realise this is no dyno queen. This car is not all about the engine; it’s been built as a true all-rounder. In fact it’s one of the most complete performance E46 330Cds we’ve ever seen. Chris uses the car for track days, trips to the Nürburgring, drag racing (116mph terminal speed, faster than an #E92 #M3
, and similar to an #E60 #M5
, despite struggling for grip until over 60mph), drifting, and road use too, both as a weekend toy and on occasion an entertaining daily driver, so let’s take a look at what Chris has done to the car, and why.
First up, understandably, is the engine, which surprisingly is still on standard internals with no sign of weaknesses as yet, though the dreaded swirl flaps, as well as the EGR setup, have been completely removed. While the engine made around 300hp and 500lb ft when still running the standard turbo and injectors, albeit with the addition of a free flowing exhaust system, large front mount intercooler, and a generic remap, near the end of 2013, after the standard turbo expired for the second time, Chris decided to, in his own words: “Go mad with it.”
Inspired by the tuning exploits of Scandinavians with another, albeit less advanced, German straight-six 3.0-litre diesel, the Mercedes OM606, not to mention how impressed he was with the durability of the M57N so far, Chris’ next step with the engine was to significantly increase fuel and air flow, with larger injectors from a 535d, and a hybrid turbo setup based on E90 #3#30d
parts. The standard E90 330d unit is a GTB2260VK, which in itself is a capable turbo, but Chris sent this one to be modified by Darkside Developments, who upgraded it with a higher flowing GT25 turbine and 66mm compressor wheel, which they call the GTB2566VK. The importance of exhaust flow on a turbocharged engine shouldn’t be underestimated, especially directly after the turbo outlet, and it certainly wasn’t by Chris, who fitted a custom 3.5-inch downpipe which connected to the three-inch system that was previously fitted.
The original front mount intercooler setup was enlarged with a huge four-inch thick core to cope with cooling the massive 2.5bar of boost pressure, and in addition to this a Devils Own water/methanol injection was added. As well as cooling the inlet charge, Chris has found the water/meth injection significantly lowers exhaust gas temps, improving both performance and reliability at the same time.
As you can imagine, with this host of new mods the original remap was far from optimal, so the car was sent off for a custom map. “Once the car was mapped it was transformed, it pulled hard right to the 5000rpm rev limit, but at part throttle I felt it could be better, and the vibrations at idle through the uprated engine mounts were horrendous” explained Chris. Some people would live with those issues, others would shell out for yet another remap, but Chris is no chequebook tuner, so he got hold of the WinOLS mapping software and MPPS connection lead, and taught himself to remap the car. “The first job was to increase the idle speed to 880rpm, which totally eliminated any idle shake, in fact it’s not much worse than a petrol engine now, but I soon realised the map on the car, while effective, was pretty crude, so I decided to redo it all myself, piece-by-piece,” Chris explained. “It took time, but I’ve managed to make the car just as powerful as the professionals made it, but far smoother, with less exhaust smoke, lower EGTs, and it still happily does 45mpg at motorway speeds!”
With almost 700lb ft going to the rear wheels, getting acceptable amounts of traction is no easy task, but thanks to the addition of the Quaife ATB limitedslip differential and 255 wide Federal RSR road legal track tyres, both straight line and cornering grip is actually very impressive. While the car still smokes both rear wheels by simply going full throttle in second gear in the dry, and will wheelspin at three figure speeds in the wet, it has great and controllable traction for something with such enormous torque.
Earlier E46s are well known for cracking rear subframe mounts, but it seems the massive torque and sub nine-minute Nürburgring laps took its toll even on Chris’ later car, as he had the very same problem, though he fixed this with his own 3mm sheet steel plates to reinforce the area. This wasn’t the only subframe part that needed beefing up due to the huge torque either, as the front subframe needed reinforcing after cracking around the engine mounts too. Beyond this, the engine and transmission mounts, and all suspension and subframe bushes have been uprated, along with the clutch and flywheel which have been replaced with SPEC Stage 3+ items. One thing that hasn’t needed uprating is the gearbox, as the six-speed manual ZF box is rapidly gaining legendary status in the tuning world for coping with incredible levels of power and torque, and it’s something Chris has had no issue with at all.
We’ve mentioned this car’s frequent track day use already in this feature, and it’s posted some very impressive lap times, something you don’t get from engine performance alone. Chris has put serious effort in to making the braking and handling just as impressive as the engine, running HSD coilovers, uprated top mounts, adjustable front and rear camber, uprated ARBs, and a full complement of uprated bushes. While the car certainly has the right parts, it’s the geometry setup that Chris perfected over numerous track days that really makes the car handle. “It’s set up mostly for the track, but it handles great both on the road legal tyres and the Michelin full slicks I use on dry track days,” he explains.
On the braking side of things, Chris’ 330Cd runs M3 CSL front discs and 750i rears, with Brembo Porsche 996 callipers all-round, but he classes the most effective part of the brake system to be the Carbon Lorraine brake pads. “Even running the standard discs and callipers with racing slicks I was able to lock up the brakes even at very high speed, and they had no fade at all, and now with the bigger brakes things feel even better,” Chris explained.
So on the road and track, how does it behave, and what’s people’s reactions to it? “Well, #E92
M3s are easy pickings in a straight line, and on the way home from one dyno session even a #Ferrari-California
was seen off too. And almost nobody believes it’s a diesel when they see it go, and it never fails to shock when I take people for passenger rides,” Chris laughs.
So while Chris has built what’s quite possibly the ultimate tuned diesel BMW, does that mean the car is complete? Well, as is so often the way, no, not even close. First up is the rear diff ratio, which he’s about to change from the standard 2.46 to a 2.28. “I’ve seen a GPS-verified 174mph at 5000rpm on the current setup, but it runs out of gears so easily I think the 2.28 will not only increase top speed to 186mph, but it should improve overall acceleration too as I can hold it in-gear for longer,” Chris explained. It doesn’t end there either, as the immense performance increases achieved so far have given him the confidence and experience to say that a lot more is certainly possible. “I’m running around 31 degrees injector duration to achieve peak torque at the moment, so I’m sure there’s more in them, and if I could hold the 700lb ft to 4000rpm it would make 530hp, so it’s time to try and get some more air in. This won’t happen with the current turbo though, as it’s literally on its knees at the current level,” Chris laughs. His plan for the engine, which may have started by the time you read this, is to replace the current turbo and manifold setup with a custom tubular item and a big Holset HX40V VGT turbocharger, and swap the stock plastic inlet manifold with a stronger and freer flowing custom alloy item.
“I’m hoping the new setup will give 3bar of boost and make good power up to 5500rpm while still having great lowdown power too. I just hope the fuel pump can keep up!” One thing is for sure, if this car’s ground-breaking story so far is anything to go by, Chris is going to have a whole lot of fun finding out…
“If I could hold the 700lb ft to 4000rpm it would make 530hp...” #2004
BMW 3-series E46 330Cd
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION: #M57N
3.0-litre 24v inline six engine, swirl flaps removed, full EGR system removal, BMW 535d injectors, E90 330d exhaust manifold, 535d cam cover, Darkside Developments #GTB2566VK
hybrid turbo running 2.5bar boost, 3-inch custom intake with ITG filter and cold air feed, custom 3.5-inch downpipe, 3-inch turbo back straight through exhaust, custom 4-inch core intercooler setup with hard pipes, self-mapped ECU, Devils Own water/methanol injection activated at 1bar boost, Kelowe 16-inch electric fan, Mocal oil catch tank, aircon removed, Vibratechnics engine mounts, 5000rpm rev limit, 2.5bar boost, ZF six-speed manual gearbox, CAE Ultra Shifter, modified gear linkage, SPEC billet steel single mass flywheel, SPEC Stage 3+ clutch, SPEC thrust bearing, Quaife ATB diff, polyurethane gearbox and diff mounts.
CAPACITY: HSD Monotube coilovers with 12kg rate springs, front camber plates, rear pillowball top mounts, H&R adjustable front and rear ARBs, complete Powerflex Black series uprated suspension and subframe components, aluminium rear camber arms, custom front and rear subframe reinforcement plates.
BRAKES: BMW M3 CSL 345mm front discs, BMW #750i
328mm rear discs, Brembo Porsche 996 fourpot callipers front and rear, Carbone Lorraine brake pads (RC6 front, RC5+ rear), braided brake lines, ATE Racing Blue DOT4 fluid.
WHEELS & TYRES: #BBS
CH015 8.5x18 with Federal RSR 255/35/18 tyres for road use, BMW MV2 8x18 with Michelin 240/640/18 racing slicks for dry track use, 90mm wheel stud conversion.
INTERIOR: Full heated electric M Sport leather, exhaust gas temperature and boost pressure displays.
EXTERIOR: Standard M Sport exterior with de-chromed kidney grilles.
THANKS: Big thanks to my dad for not only helping with machining and welding on this project, but he is the one who got me in to mechanical stuff in the first place – he even taught me how to weld. I would also like to thank my good friend Gaz for the use of his workshop so I could build the car and Darkside Developments for building an awesome turbo.
“It never fails to shock when I take people for passenger rides…”