• Sep 13, 2010
2010 BMW 335i Sedan – Click above for high-res image gallery

BMW has always had a gem of an inline-six on its hands, regardless of which particular powerplant you're referring to. But over the last couple of years, it's the German automaker's turbocharged 3.0-liter N54 engines that have been lighting enthusiasts hearts afire, and steering more than a few buyers away from the M3 and into the seat of a 335i. And when the N54 proliferated across the rest of the automaker's lineup, it was well-received in nearly every application.

For 2011, though, there's a new engine in town, and the big question is whether or not the single-turbo N55 is better than the previous twin-turbo N54 or, at the very least, not worse. Helping shed some light on the matter is the crew from Automobile Magazine, who managed to snag a trio of various N54-powered 3-Series' – one of which was the hotted-up 2011 335is, which uses a high-output version of the old N54 – along with one new model powered by an N55.

And the results? Well, it's pretty much more of the same: good peak horsepower (266 horses) and a nicely flat mid-heavy torque curve, cresting at a stout 302 pound-feet. But we'd be remiss if we didn't point out that the new N55, while seemingly offering less turbo lag than its predecessor, appears to be a wee bit less powerful overall than the N54. Progress?



Photos by Zach Bowman / Copyright ©2010 AOL

[Source: Automobile Magazine]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 34 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      A stock n54 is no better or worse than an n55 but stock isn't where the n54 should be. It has a myriad of cheap tuning options that the n55 simply doesn't have. Let's see if that changes.

      If those Dyno graphs shows any surprises then it would be how much the 335is is overpriced. A $279 JB+ can give you the same power on a stock N54.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Carguy, if you're comparing pricing differences of 335i vs 335is you should take into account upgraded oil and transmission coolers. I've read about a multitude of cooling issues resulting from tuning the N54 and have confirmed this with mechanics in the area. If memory serves, the the 335is has these installed from the factory.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I was hoping for some alpina goodnessp
      • 4 Years Ago
      "Progress?"

      That depends on whether of not the HPFP can last more than 1200 miles.

      • 4 Years Ago
      A wee bit less powerful? You're going from 300hp to 266hp. My '95 Buick Riviera S/C and now my '02 Civic Si can take any BMW 328i, and now I may have a chance at the 335i too.
        • 4 Years Ago
        266 at the wheels.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Ok, thanks for clearing that up. Didn't make sense that they'd drop 40hp for a new generation of engines.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Correct me if I'm wrong, but weren't twin-scroll turbos known for being unreliable in the past? Have they made advances to improve this? I would think that with all this talk of N54 vs. N55 reliability, BMW would have been engineering a more reliable turbo setup.
      • 4 Years Ago
      That's funny. All the BMW forum posters experiencing HPFP issues were lamenting their choice to purchase the N54. When this engine came out all they can say is how glad they were that they got the N54 when they did.

      I think this engine was, at best, a lateral move for BMW. It doesn't appear to offer any performance advantages (at least based on dyno results) but probably saves BMW manufacturing costs. Hopefully that will keep the price down at least a little, though I doubt BMW would ever pass the savings on to the buyer.

      Also, that loss of turbo lag comes at the expense of top end power, which I doubt most people will ever use anyway.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Actually if you've checked out some of the BMW forums around you'll hear tales of the HPFP creeping into new discussions on the N55 as well. No one yet seems to know the extent of the issue so it may be a case of previous overexposure, but I wouldn't bet on that issue going away just yet.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Yeah, that's sad about the turbo 3.0 motors..

        But it's no surprise. Newer BMWs seem to always have some show stopping flaws.
        cooling systems on the e36 were absolutely horrific, almost designed with failure in mind.
        e36 subframe tearing continued all the way through the e46 models.. incredible. I know a guy who had his subframe tear out on a 2004 m3 with less than 50k miles on it.

        Don't get me started about the perpetual clutch problems on the mini coopers.

        I just don't trust this car company any more. They look nice, but the company does not stand behind their products. They are apparently designed to be disposable toys for the upper class, not a car that lasts.. and lasts.. and lasts.. like the e30's and older.
        • 4 Years Ago
        It would seem thus far the N55 have not been plagued with the HPFP problem as had the N54. Interesting since the HPFP that's used for the N55 335i is the same one as the N54 335i.

        I'm all for power, but I'd rather that my car won't go in limp mode on highway. Some the N54 owners don't seem to mind that risk it would appear.
      • 4 Years Ago
      What about that 1-series 'M' version?
      N55 engine, with the twin-turbo of the 335is?
      • 4 Years Ago
      My 335i turbo replacement cost the factory $9,900.
      I'm predicting (and hoping) the maintenance costs on the N55 will be far lower than the N54.

      Hope the wife's 135i DCT doesn't suffer the same fate.....
        • 4 Years Ago
        are you srs? $10k for turbo replacement? My god.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Hi. 2010 335i Coupe owner here. Thanks for making me regret my choice of the 335i over the 328i. >:O
      • 4 Years Ago
      Umm its been known that the new single turbo is slightly less power then the old n54, and less then the hotted up n54 for awhile now. Lower cost, less lag, and I think better mpg.

      I even think you guys have reported this multiple times. Right hand meet left hand.
      • 4 Years Ago
      All I see is this Motor company can't produce a mainstream NA 300hp engine and instead have to resort to turbos...Kinda pathetic if you ask me...
      • 4 Years Ago
      I'll take the new, fewer turbo engine any day. More turbos mean more stuff to break, more weight, more cost and they don't even help with lag.

      A single turbo with dual entry/twin scroll/variable vane was always the right way to go for a street engine, and BMW made the right move to switch to this setup.

      As to the idea that the BMW engine set the standard for low lag, well, it did if you only look at BMWs. There has been a ton of great work done on turbocharged engines for two decades will BMW took a break from them. BMW finally does one again and the BMWites go from "who wants hair dryers anyway" to "wow, these things are pretty great!"
        • 4 Years Ago
        Turbos and lag:
        I agree with the statement about "if you only look at BMWs." The z32 chassis 300ZX, All of Nissan's Skyline GT and GT-R models, how many force-fed Subaru Imprezas, 911, hell, even the Dodge Neon SRT-4s!

        I hate how the automotive journalists pedistalize BMW so much, and says nothing of their rather tepid reliability over the last 15 years. What about the poor guy who saves up for 5 years to buy his dream and gets hosed when the warranty is up?
      Tony Gray
      • 4 Years Ago
      I love my N54 in my 2007 335i coupe and have had zero problems in over 46,000 miles. As my daily driver it gives me the perfect balance of fun quotient, reliability and it still provides 26-28 MPG with my driving profile.

      It's just hard to believe that all the benefits touted by the twin turbo setup when the N54 came out are now discounted. This reminds me a tad of the E engines put on the E30s to suit the driving wishes of their non-enthusiast customers.
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