Project E46 M3: Part 14 – Short shift kit and lightweight clutch and flywheel testing!!


As I wipe the tears from eyes, it’s nice to see another E46 M3 with an AEM Infinity. We also use an AEM Infinity in our Project Supra and we love the tuning capabilities of this device. 400 MIPS—that’s 400 million instructions per second. That’s just mind blowing.
Stay tuned as we’ll be tackling the exhaust we got from Bavarian Autosport next, and we’ll report back with video and more dyno numbers!
Oh, in the introduction to Part 13, I was raving about the torque curve of the 3.2-liter BMW M3, really because it had initially gotten a bad rap during a few reviews for not being a very torquey car. I disagreed, and pointed out the fact that, at least for a high-revving 3.2-liter, it was great. I also pointed out that if we had to find a similar torque curve in a car of the same year, we’d have to go to the 3.6-liter engines of a stock or lightly modified Porsche 996/997, or even a Ferrari 360 Modena! Just for fun, we were able to find a dyno plot from an F360 from a place I tested at for years (but I apologize I couldn’t get the raw numbers to overlay the graphs), which used the same dyno I currently use now at Modified by KC.

While this F360 has 30 WHP more in the top end with an exhaust and tune, its torque curve is surprisingly similar. Here’s the rough breakdown (compared to our car as it sits today, but with a factory rear muffler):

RPME46 BMW M3            Ferrari 360 Modena
3500215 lb-ft200 lb-ft
4000255 lb-ft220 lb-ft
4500250 lb-ft240 lb-ft
5000250 lb-ft250 lb-ft
5500245 lb-ft240 lb-ft
6000240 lb-ft240 lb-ft
6500235 lb-ft230 lb-ft
7000230 lb-ft225 lb-ft
7500215 lb-ft230 lb-ft
8000205 lb-ft220 lb-ft

I know the F360 wasn’t the most stellar in the Ferrari stable (and the M3/M4s of today are no match for the F488), but this is still a Ferrari that started at three times the price of an E46 M3. And the fact that torque is fairly dependent on displacement, I found it interesting that an M3 could hold its own against the prancing horse of the same year, and with only 3.2-liters when compared to the Modena’s 3.6-liter.

When compared to the M3, because the F360 has got smaller pistons, its V8 gives up a bit of low end torque in exchange for a bigger top end, edging out the M3 from 7500 RPM to redline–and every few lb-ft this high in the revs makes a big difference in horsepower. I understand that, if Ferrari wanted to, it could easily have made more low-end torque with a 3.6-liter V6 instead of a V8 (due to the larger cylinders), but then it wouldn’t rev as high and sound or perform like a Ferrari. Even so, the similarities throughout almost the entire torque curve was interesting to me.

With less displacement and two fewer cylinders–two *major* disadvantages when it comes to power–one could say that the E46 M3 is holding its own against the F360 in the power curve department, too! After all, when BMW upped its M5 by two cylinders (from a V8 to a V10), with no real changes to displacement, it went up over 100 horsepower! It just goes to show that BMW really did something special with the S54 3.2-liter powerplant found in the E46 M3. At least to me it did.











    1. hi and funny you should ask because–while I’ve sold the car a year ago to my father in CA (and I’m in KC)–he was actually sitting 5ft away from me when I saw this note so I was able to ask him and he says it’s relatively quiet. Can hear the chatter a bit during idle and of course if you turn the AC on but it’s not obnoxious or anything like that. thanks for reading!

    2. Hey I have the car currently! It’s pretty low key you won’t be able to tell while driving obviously, sometimes at idle although you here a lot of chatter lol. I personally think it’s amazing, after first gear it’s super forgiving. Per the clutch it’s very easy to set off, catch and rev match or heel toeing ( I guess part of that is owed to the flywheel too) and the stiffness imo is perfect. Short shifter is the cherry on top.

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