• Dec 30, 2008
Click above for a high-res pic of the S54B32

Say what you will about their design department, but BMW is known for producing some of the most amazing engines on the market. Especially the Bavarian automaker's stoic M division, whose current V10 engine has won its fair share of awards and then some. The same goes for the S54B32, Bimmer's internal code-name for the 3.2-liter iron-block straight-six which the company is now preparing to retire after seven years in production.

Over its lifetime, the 3.2 provided motivation for such performance icons as the E46 M3, the Z3-based M roadster and breadvan, and the Z4 M, as well as the exotic Wiesmann MF3. But with a new Z4 on its way, S54B32 is being sent to pasture, replaced now in various applications by Bimmer's highly-rated twin-turbo 3.0-liter inline-six. The latter is a a fantastic engine, but there will always be a special place in our hearts for the cast-iron 3.2.

[Source: Car via Motor Authority]


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 26 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      I agree it was time to move on but it is still sad to see it go when it is a better engine than most of the other car companies have currently.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I have a "tuned" 335i. The car is great on the track, but I've suffered thru 2 blown turbos, 3 fuel pumps,BMW 29.2 progman induced turbo-lag and brake issues. Other than that it's a great engine.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Maybe you should dial back the boost?
      • 6 Years Ago
      From M3forum.net

      http://www.m3forum.net/m3forum/showthread.php?t=189390

      "QUESTION: I've heard about a "bearing recall" - what's that all about and should I avoid those cars?
      ANSWER - (DonE) The bearing recall was a response by BMW to some engine failures on early M3 engines. The range of cars is from late '01 cars to early '03 cars.

      The cause of the failure was two-fold, bearings that were out of specification, and in some cases an oil-pump that was out of specification. When this first surfaced - BMW believed it was the fault of the owners - but it soon became obvious that it wasn't an owner caused problem. BMW reacted by issuing a recall - which involved replacing the bearings and oil pumps in the effected engines, AND extending the warranty on the engine to 6 years/100k miles for OIL LUBRICATED parts on these engines. They also specified a new oil for the M3 engines - Castrol TWS 10W-60 oil (more on this in the "what oil should I use" question.)

      If the engine recall was done - there is no reason to avoid these cars. Failures after the recall was performed have been rare - and in some cases, the 100k/6-year warranty covered other failures of these engines. If the recall wasn't done - it can still be done, and besides the 100k/6 year warranty, the work will be covered by BMW's 2 year repair warranty."
        • 6 Years Ago
        I think the comment was that the engine was lengendary, not BMW's customer service.

        • 6 Years Ago
        Was a reply to "why not the LS2LS7?" above. Stupid commenting program.
        • 6 Years Ago
        It amazes me how so many people believe that BMW makes "GREAT" engines. Maybe they do....BUT....I can't count high enough to tell you how many times I;ve read about overheating, oil distribution problems, bearing trouble and total engine failure. These are issues that you should never see before 150,000 miles an yet these are happening with less than 10,000 miles.

        Without a doubt, the number of issues with their engines is exponentially higher than the competition. This cannot be debated. I have nothing against BMW's or BMW drivers, but they are so brainwashed about the quality of their vehicles' engines. You can't drive these cars for 200,000 miles with just a timing belt swap...a la most Japanese cars.

        Given that, I would buy a 335i tomorrow if the economy was stronger...but I would get rid of it right before the warranty expired....and no...I could never brag about the quality and longetivity of my engine to any Honda, Acura, or Cadillac owner.

        • 6 Years Ago
        I believe I covered it better than you did. Did you read my link?

        BMW had a flaw with their engine and they were fragging themselves. That's somewhat unlegendary.

        Additionally, BMW was denying it was their fault, when a customer reported a problem, they would mention that the engine had recorded an overrev code (indicating the customer had created a mechanical overrev, a "flyer") and so it wasn't covered. Customers protested and said they had done no such thing but BMW was having none of it.

        Finally, people with M3 SMG models started having the same problem, and it's supposedly impossible for a customer to create a mechanical overrev with that transmission because the computer controls it and won't allow it to be done.

        Faced with this info, BMW finally began to issue service actions and correct the problems and stopped blaming the customers.

        Blaming customers for your own problems is very unlegendary in my book.
        • 6 Years Ago
        jg:
        The customer service is a fallback. If the engine didn't break spontaneously, it wouldn't matter how BMW's customer service was.

        So the engine was the first line of defense and it failed. Rather unlegendary.

        It still liked it, and I'm rather bummed BMW seemed to have abandoned sixes for eights in the M3.
        • 6 Years Ago
        With apologies to LS2/LS7...

        Sorry, wasn't trying to be a wiseacre... yeah, it's def "unlegendary" on BMW's part maybe, but this affected very few engines, all cars got the recall done, and there have been no followup reports of problems with the post-03.5 plants.

        Chris,

        I don't have any illusions that their quality is necessarily higher than a Toyota, but it's not abysmal. The S54 is definitely a fussy engine, what with the 25k valve adjustments, etc., but in relation to being a performance engine of the high-revving plants from Ferrari and others, it's a tank. Comparing it to Camry plants or non-Wankel Mazdas is a little unfair.
      • 6 Years Ago
      The best engine on a "non-supercar" in the last decade.
        • 6 Years Ago
        one of the best engines in the last decade period.
        • 6 Years Ago
        It will certainly be missed. We are lucky however to have many examples of this engine in the states and I personally look forward to the prices of those cars coming down in the following years. What a great engine.
      • 6 Years Ago
      R.I.P my favorite N/A six if all time
      • 6 Years Ago
      S54B32 was a torqueless POS.

      as for the N54, I wouldn't put too much stock in that one either as it hasn't been proven yet.. never mind the nice $10k repair bill when the turbo fails...
        • 6 Years Ago
        This engine had the highest torque per liter of any volume production engine, ever.
        Euro exhaust 83ft-lbs / liter (US 81)

        The new M3 V8-74
        • 6 Years Ago
        Where did you get that number?
        • 6 Years Ago
        Spoken like a true troll. The S54's torque curve is flat, and there's plenty enough to get you into the HP. Enough to get the 3400-lb E46 M3 to 60 in under 5 seconds, anyway.

        This sort of differential between HP and torque is common in high-revving engines (Ferrari's 4.3 has 480-ish hp, just over 340 lb/ft, the 997 GT2's plant goes ~400hp/300lb-ft). Having driven a friend's Z06 a number of times, I know huge torque feels nice and all, but it's not the only measure of performance. Getting into the upper limits of the RPMs and staying there are what these engines are built for.

        Same friend also has a fairly modded STI (meth, tune, turboback, etc.) and it goes 340hp/400lb-ft of torque. Goes like stink, but absolutely dies up top. Can't imagine driving it on a track.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Bye bye.

      I like the 3.0TT better anyway...
      • 6 Years Ago
      no love for the 2JZGTE?
      • 6 Years Ago
      I liked the engine, and I really didn't mind that it made its power through revs. I didn't even mind that the exhaust note sounded like crap.

      But legendary seems a bit strong, especially when they were fragging themselves for a while and BMW was blaming the customers.

      http://members.roadfly.com/jason/m3engines.htm
      • 6 Years Ago
      I'll miss that high strung rasp of the double VANOS. Oh wait nvm I get the pleasure of dealing with it everyday.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Ditto. Interlagos '06 here. ZZZZAAAAHHHHHHNG
    • Load More Comments