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  • BMW 335i E9x buying and tuning guide

    Rumour has it the 335i should have worn an M3 badge, but V8 shoehornery from the likes of Audi and its RS4, along with Mercedes and its C63, led to BMW choosing a naturally-aspirated V8 for the E9X M3. This engine was labelled the S65; it produced 420bhp and despite the E30, E36 and E46 M3 having only been subject to four-cylinders for the advent of the M3, and six-cylinder power from then on, a V8 was more associated with the E39 M5. However, its appeal was still hard to resist, even if it did momentarily poke M3 purists in the eyes... Of course, the 335i being the M3 that never was is just a rumour, but further evidence does lie within BMWs more recent focus on turbocharged engines. Take the F10 M5, a 550bhp twin-turbo V8, and the imminent F82 M3 ( BMW F30 series renamed model), will have, yes you guessed it, a twin-turbo straight-six, a la the 335i. The 3-Series V8 fling is over. At the time of development, BMW could build tremendous naturally-aspirated straight-sixes in its sleep, but the 335i’s N54 was the first turbocharged petrol engine since the iconic 2002 Turbo. So making a meal of it would have been something of an embarrassment. It got rave reviews, with the press applauding its lag-free 302bhp, 295lb/ ft torque power delivery and effortless overtaking capabilities, but in 2010 one turbo was dropped and the engine was renamed the N55. We feared the worse. However, power and torque figures remained the same but astonishingly, the 295lb/ft was delivered even earlier. I road tested one in the November 2010 issue and the ‘TwinPower Turbo' cam cover writing was obviously a way to satisfy those who felt deprived of the N54's additional blower. It proved to be just as impressive though, even if the older BMW N54 is reputed to be more receptive to engine tuning. The move to a single turbo buoyed fuel economy but perhaps BMW thought its future M-car range needed to be distinguished by its twin-turbos. Naturally, the 335i by model name alone didn’t have the credentials to stand on the M3’s toes, so the production version was watered down to 302bhp, way behind the yet to be released E92 M3, with its 414/bhp. Similarly, back in the 'nineties the E36 328i was strangled by a 320i inlet manifold which pegged it back to 192bhp, no more than a 325i. Look to the 3.0-litre E36 M3 though, and that was producing 286bhp. On paper, stark differences between regular models and anything beginning with an ‘M’ have to remain paramount. The 335i may have been around since 2006, but 302bhp isn't a figure to be dismissed in 2012. and in reality this is actually a modest yield for a twin-turbo 3.0-litre straight-six - take it as a hint of its true potential. Naturally aspirated engines have always been notoriously expensive and labour intensive to tune because reaping serious gains calls for uprated internals. Forced induction engines on the other hand can offer far more bang per buck. This is what has led to many a 335i following the seemingly faster M3 only to remain fixated in the rear view when M attempts evasion. The reason? Usually a remap, which brings a 335i to nigh-on the M3’s 400-odd power output. However, even in factory trim the 335i has more accessible real world performance because having driven both, an E9X M3 doesn’t properly loosen up until a high rev count, which is where it needs to stay in order to shake off a 335i. Compare the power delivery in the M3's BMW S65 against the 335i’s N54’s nature, and the latter will provide lots of lowdown shove thanks to the turbos, or later single turbo - both variants show minimal signs of lag. This means performance is unearthed at an early stage. This instant access is perfectly suited to road use which is mostly a strictly governed environment which rarely permits downshifts and a clip of the redline, to unleash an engine's reserves. In short, in a 335i you get to enjoy wh ...

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