BMW E90 Upgrades: Essential Performance and Style Enhancements

Basics of E90 Upgrades

The BMW E90 is a popular choice for enthusiasts, as it offers a solid foundation for performance upgrades. The E90 is part of the fifth generation BMW 3 Series and includes models such as the 328i, 335i, and M3. In this section, we will discuss some basic upgrades that can enhance the performance and aesthetics of your BMW E90.

One of the first upgrades to consider for your E90 is addressing the wheels. Stock wheels on the E90 leave room for improvement in both looks and performance. By upgrading to lighter and larger aftermarket wheels, you can improve handling, ride quality, and overall appearance.

Under the hood, the E90 328i and 335i have different engines – the N52 and N54/N55, respectively. The 335i models come with a twin-turbo engine that responds very well to power upgrades such as tuning and exhaust systems. The naturally aspirated 328i models can still benefit from intake and exhaust upgrades, offering more power and an enhanced driving experience.

Suspension upgrades are also an essential aspect of improving your BMW E90. A coilover suspension kit can provide adjustable ride height, damping, and improved handling, transforming your E90’s driving characteristics. Additional suspension components such as control arms, trailing arms, and sway bars can contribute to a more precise and responsive drive.

Another performance upgrade to consider for your BMW E90 is improving the braking system. Opting for high-performance brake pads, rotors, and stainless steel brake lines can improve braking efficiency and give you more confidence in stopping power.

Lastly, don’t forget about the aesthetics of your E90. Interior and exterior cosmetic upgrades, such as carbon fiber trim pieces, upgraded lighting, and custom grilles, can personalize your BMW 3 Series and make it stand out from the crowd.

So, whether it’s performance, handling, or aesthetics, there are numerous upgrades available to help you tailor your BMW E90 to suit your individual preferences and driving style.

Performance Enhancements

Engine and Powertrain Upgrades

One of the critical aspects of BMW E90 upgrades is enhancing the engine and powertrain for better performance. Various aftermarket parts are available to improve power, including ECU tuning for optimized engine management and increased horsepower. Turbocharger upgrades can significantly enhance the car’s power output, providing a more thrilling driving experience. Additionally, consider upgrading to high-flow fuel injectors and fuel pump upgrades, which are essential for maintaining optimal fuel flow and supporting increased power demands.

Exhaust System Upgrades

Another critical aspect of achieving better performance is upgrading the exhaust system on your BMW E90. High-quality aftermarket exhaust systems can improve airflow, enhancing engine performance, and increasing horsepower. These exhaust systems can range from simple bolt-on upgrades to comprehensive, custom-built options, depending on your requirements. When selecting an exhaust system, consider the material quality, construction, and compatibility with your specific BMW E90 model to ensure optimal functionality and durability.

Performance Driving Upgrades

To complement the increased power and performance offered by engine and exhaust system upgrades, some additional performance driving upgrades will transform your BMW E90 into a true driving machine. For example, investing in performance suspension systems can improve handling, stability, and responsiveness, allowing you to better maneuver and control your vehicle when driving at high speeds or taking sharp turns.

Additional performance enhancements may include upgrading to performance brake systems and lightweight wheels to improve stopping power and reduce unsprung weight, enhancing the car’s overall handling characteristics.

In summary, upgrading your BMW E90 with the right combination of engine and powertrain enhancements, exhaust system upgrades, and performance driving upgrades will significantly improve the overall performance and driving experience of your vehicle. By staying informed, performing thorough research, and maintaining a confident, knowledgeable approach to your E90 upgrades, you can successfully unlock its full potential.

Suspension and Handling

The BMW E90 is known for its exceptional driving dynamics, but with the right suspension and handling upgrades, you can further enhance its performance. Some of the best mods for the E90 and E92 chassis include coilovers, control arms, bushings, and dampers.

One popular suspension upgrade is the installation of coilovers. Coilovers provide adjustable ride height and damping, allowing you to fine-tune the suspension to your driving preferences. They also help improve the vehicle’s overall balance and handling characteristics.

Control arms are another essential component of the E90’s suspension system. Upgrading to performance control arms can improve the handling by providing more precise steering and better front end grip. These improvements translate to a more planted feel and increased driver confidence during cornering.

Bushings play a significant role in the suspension’s overall performance. Upgrading to stiffer, aftermarket polyurethane bushings can reduce unwanted movement and flex, which leads to improved handling and a more direct connection between the chassis and the road.

Along with suspension modifications, upgrading the brakes is essential for the overall handling and performance of your BMW E90. Performance brake kits usually include larger rotors, high-performance pads, and multi-piston calipers, resulting in increased stopping power and resistance to brake fade.

Shocks and dampers play a vital part in the E90’s suspension system by controlling the movement of the wheels and providing a smooth, balanced ride. Upgrading to high-performance shocks and dampers can improve the vehicle’s handling and stability, especially during aggressive driving or on uneven surfaces.

Camber plates are another suspension upgrade that can improve handling by allowing for a more aggressive alignment. This results in increased grip and better cornering performance. Please note that an aggressive alignment may result in more tire wear, so it’s essential to keep this in mind before committing to this modification.

Finally, lowering springs can be a more budget-friendly option for those looking to improve the aesthetics and handling of their E90. These springs lower the ride height, which can result in a lower center of gravity and improved handling performance. However, keep in mind that lowering springs may not offer the same level of adjustability as coilovers.

In conclusion, the right suspension and handling upgrades are crucial to the overall driving experience and performance of your BMW E90. Factors such as coilovers, control arms, bushings, brakes, and dampers all contribute to the enhanced handling characteristics and improved driving dynamics of the vehicle.

Braking System Upgrades

Upgrading the braking system on a BMW E90 can greatly improve its overall performance and handling. A variety of options are available, from upgrading specific components to installing complete big brake kits. This section will discuss some of the key elements that can be upgraded, including brake pads, brake lines, rotors, and big brake kits.

Brake pads play an essential role in the braking system, providing the friction necessary to slow down or stop the vehicle. Upgrading to performance brake pads, like the ones from Genuine BMW, can offer better heat resistance, longevity, and improved braking response, which can be beneficial on both the street and the track.

Another component to consider upgrading is the brake lines. Replacing the factory rubber lines with stainless steel brake lines can result in a more responsive brake pedal and better pedal feel. Stainless steel lines are less prone to expansion under pressure, ensuring consistent brake pressure.

Rotors are an integral part of the braking system, and upgrading to performance rotors can provide more efficient heat dissipation and resistance to brake fade. Options like drilled, slotted, or a combination of both can help extend rotor life and provide a more aggressive appearance.

Finally, big brake kits are an excellent choice for those looking to make a significant improvement to their E90’s braking performance. Kits such as the ones offered by Ceika Performance include larger rotors, high-performance brake pads, and multi-piston calipers, all designed to enhance braking performance and reduce stopping distance.

In conclusion, upgrading the braking system on a BMW E90 is an effective way to improve overall vehicle performance and handling. Consider focusing on brake pads, brake lines, rotors, or big brake kits to enhance your E90’s stopping power.

Exterior and Aesthetic Upgrades

One of the most significant upgrades you can make to your BMW E90, E91, or E9X is the exterior and aesthetic modifications, which can significantly improve your vehicle’s appearance and make it stand out from the crowd. A few popular exterior upgrades include changing the wheels, upgrading the kidney grille, and adding aero components such as spoilers and side skirts.

When it comes to wheels, the stock E90 wheels often have room for improvement, and upgrading them not only enhances the appearance but can also improve handling and performance. Many owners choose to fit their BMW E90 with wider and larger diameter wheels, which provide better traction and grip, especially when used with high-performance tires.

The kidney grille is another element that can be upgraded to give your BMW E90 or E91 a more aggressive and modern appearance. Aftermarket grilles are available in various styles and finishes, including black, chrome, and carbon fiber. Swapping out the stock grille for an upgraded one is a relatively simple process that can have a big impact on your car’s look.

Adding aero components, such as spoilers and side skirts, can also enhance your BMW E90’s appearance while providing some functional benefits. A rear spoiler not only adds a sporty touch but can also improve the car’s aerodynamics, resulting in better performance at high speeds. Similarly, side skirts can give your vehicle a lower and more aggressive stance, improving the overall aesthetics and aerodynamics of your BMW.

If you are a fan of the classic BMW E46 look, you may also consider incorporating some of its styling elements into your E90, E91, or E9X. For instance, adding an M-Tech or similar body kit, which often includes updated front and rear bumpers and side skirts, can give your car a unique and dynamic appearance.

In summary, exterior and aesthetic upgrades such as new wheels, an upgraded kidney grille, aero components like spoilers and side skirts, and even incorporating classic BMW styling like the E46, can significantly enhance your BMW E90, E91, or E9X’s overall appearance and make it stand out from others on the road. Confidence in your vehicle’s looks will be crystal clear with these modifications.

Weight and Balance Considerations

When upgrading a BMW E90, it’s essential to consider the weight and balance aspects of the vehicle. Achieving optimal weight distribution and balance contributes to better handling and overall performance of the car.

Reducing the weight of a BMW E90 can have a significant impact on its acceleration, cornering, and braking ability. Many aftermarket parts are available to replace the original, heavier components. For example, replacing the stock wheels with lightweight alloy wheels can improve performance and reduce the unsprung weight of the car. Additionally, removing unnecessary components, such as soundproofing materials or the spare tire, can contribute to overall weight reduction.

When focusing on balance, it’s crucial to address the car’s suspension system as well. An upgraded suspension kit can enhance the overall balance by providing increased stiffness and improved handling characteristics. A properly designed suspension system can help transfer more torque to the ground, improving the car’s traction and stability during acceleration and cornering.

Optimizing E90’s balance is not limited to the suspension, as other aspects of the car can affect the balance too. For instance, upgrading to high-performance brakes with lighter and stronger components can enhance the balance by improving braking performance. Additionally, installing an aerodynamic body kit can help create more downforce, effectively increasing the balance and stability at high speeds.

It’s also worth considering how engine upgrades can impact the car’s overall balance. Implementing performance enhancements, such as a tuned ECU or an upgraded intake system, can increase the usable torque range. This increased torque can translate to quicker acceleration and more agile handling, ultimately achieving a more balanced driving experience.

In conclusion, weight and balance considerations are important factors when upgrading a BMW E90. By carefully selecting the appropriate aftermarket parts and focusing on the car’s weight distribution, suspension, and engine upgrades, it is possible to greatly improve the overall performance while maintaining optimal balance.

Wheels and Tires Upgrades

When it comes to upgrading the wheels and tires on a BMW E90, there are plenty of options available for a perfect combination of performance improvement and style enhancement. One of the initial decisions to make is choosing between original BMW wheels (OEM) or aftermarket wheels from renowned brands such as Alzor, MRR, VMR, and Miro. These could offer a wider variety of sizes, colors, finishes, and designs.

BMW E90, E92, and E93 models can comfortably fit wheels with diameters ranging from 16 to 20 inches, allowing you to choose the one that best matches your performance expectations and aesthetic preferences. You also have the option to consider wheel and tire packages, which are convenient and may include seasonal tires like snow tires for the winter months.

In addition to wheel size and type, you might be interested in upgrading your E90 with wheel spacers. Adding spacers can improve the car’s appearance by giving it a more aggressive stance and wider track. Furthermore, they can increase the handling performance by providing better lateral stability and enhancing grip, especially during cornering. However, it is vital to ensure the wheel and tire combination, along with the spacers, do not interfere with the suspension or create any clearance issues.

In summary, upgrading your BMW E90 with a new set of wheels, tires, and spacers can make a significant difference, not only in terms of aesthetics but also in driving performance. It’s essential to choose the right combination that matches your preferences, driving style, and the specific requirements of your E90, E92, or E93 models.

Additional Components and Modifications

The BMW E90 series is a versatile platform, offering various modification options to amp up its performance and aesthetics. One popular upgrade area for this technically advanced car includes the exhaust system, which can lead to incredible improvements when properly implemented. Quality brands like Akrapovic and Remus have developed tailor-made options for both the E9X 335i and E9X M3 models.

For the E9X M3, equipped with the powerful S65 engine, an exhaust upgrade becomes crucial in boosting overall performance. Swapping out components like the secondary cats and integrating a high-performance exhaust system will result in a more aggressive exhaust note, power gain, and impressive weight reduction.

When it comes to performance in the E90 series, both the intercooler and charge pipe play an essential role in maintaining optimum efficiency. Upgrading these components can lead to better heat dissipation, enhanced air-flow, and improved throttle response. Reputable brands such as Dinan, VRSF, and Wagner Tuning offer high-quality intercoolers and charge pipes for the BMW E90.

Another area worth considering is the headlight upgrades, which can dramatically improve visibility in the decade-old models. Upgrading to LED or HID headlights can offer increased brightness and longevity, while also giving the E90 a more modern, sleek appearance.

Brake components are essential for any performance vehicle, and the E90 is no exception. Upgrading the brake system can greatly enhance stopping power and handling. This can be achieved through installing performance pads, high-quality rotors, and stainless steel brake lines, sourced from brands like Brembo, StopTech, and Hawk.

An upgraded intake system can also benefit the performance of the E90. Improved air-flow enhances engine efficiency, leading to increased horsepower and torque. Various performance intakes are available for different E90 models, with brands like K&N, aFe, and Injen offering options tailored for specific vehicles.

In addition to these modifications, upgrading various performance parts can result in noticeable gains. Areas such as suspension and wheels not only create a more aggressive appearance but can improve handling and stability on the road. Brands like H&R, Bilstein, and KW are well-known for their high-quality suspension upgrades.

Ultimately, the BMW E90 provides an excellent base for various modifications and upgrades. Focusing on key performance areas such as exhaust, intercooler, charge pipe, headlights, brake components, and intake system will ensure a comprehensive approach to enhancing this iconic vehicle.

Georg Meier

BMW technician since 1996. I began my automotive journey in 1993 as an apprentice mechanic at Automag, the world's oldest BMW dealership in Munich. With years of experience and dedication, I garnered a wealth of knowledge about the intricacies of BMW and MINI vehicles. The love/hate relationship with the brand led me to found BIMMERIST where I share expertise and insights with fellow enthusiasts.

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