Project E46 M3: Part 2 – Cat-back Exhaust and Pulleys
Better sounds, Less Weight and More Power
After a six-month hiatus, Project E46 BMW M3 is back and on a roll. We’ve been busy testing new parts, and we’re excited to share the results.
To recap, in Part 1 we dyno-tested the car on Modified by KC’s Dynojet 424x. Power started at an unusually healthy 290whp baseline, and ended at 304whp with a fluids flush and new spark plugs, as well as a new intake and software upload.
May I interject here for a second? I’m compelled to edify the S54 motor because it is simply a magnificent piece of machinery. When the 3.2-liter E36 M3—which is still a great car—came out in 1996, Americans liked the torque. When the 3.2-liter E46 M3 followed in 2000, some perceived it as lacking torque. It is this misinterpretation that urges me to clarify why the S54 engine’s torque output is such a remarkable achievement.
The improvement above shows over 40 lb-ft down low and 60 lb-ft up top over the E36 M3, which equates to over 75whp in the high revs. Compared to the V8, which is factory-rated by 33 more lb-ft than the E46 (295 lb-ft vs 262 lb-ft for the E92 and E46, respectively), the E46 is only down 13 lb-ft at peak, at least in this comparison.
This isn’t an attempt to knock the E36 M3 by any means. I love them and, like Jonathan Lawson–the author of own Project E36 M3 series–have owned four, myself. But the S54 3.2-liter is just on another performance page. In fact, the wheel horsepower power level is more akin to that of the same-year Porsche 996 Carrera, which has 3.6 liters and an assumed lower loss in power to the wheels.
With that background info shared, let’s get back to Project E46 M3. This engine is great and we cleared 300whp in Part 1. But over the next two parts we’re back with a quest for even more power.