We all love the power of a turbocharged engine, and BMW has been a provider of these performance vehicles for years.
From the iconic M3 to the sleek 8 Series, these vehicles have left a strong mark on automotive history.
Today, we’re ranking the 12 best turbocharged BMWs ever made. Some are classics, some are modern beasts, but all have that special turbocharged magic!
The 12 best turbocharged BMW models
Let’s dive right into our list!
1. BMW 335i
We’re kicking off our list with the ever-popular BMW 335i.
Its production started in the mid-2000s, marking a return to turbocharging for BMW. The heart of the 335i is its engine, where we see two fantastic variants: the N54 and N55.
Introduced in 2006, the N54 was a game-changer for BMW, being the brand’s first turbocharged petrol engine since the M106 from the 1980s. The N54 is a 3.0-liter, inline-six engine that features twin turbochargers.
One unique feature of the N54 is that its turbochargers run in parallel, each feeding one-half of the cylinders. This eliminates the ‘turbo lag’ you often find in turbocharged engines, providing a more immediate response when you put your foot down.
Additionally, BMWs equipped with the N54 engine are often regarded as one of the most tune-friendly models that BMW has ever made.
With simple bolt-on upgrades and a remapped ECU, some enthusiasts have pushed it to output as much as 500 horsepower!
The N55 engine, introduced in 2009, replaced the N54.
The N55 is also a 3.0-liter, inline-six engine, but instead of using twin turbochargers, it employs a single, twin-scroll turbocharger.
In a twin-scroll setup, exhaust gases flow into the turbocharger through two separate channels, allowing the turbo to spool up quicker, enhancing low-end torque, and further reducing turbo lag.
Like its predecessor, the N55 generates an impressive 302 horsepower, but it’s slightly more efficient thanks to features like BMW’s Valvetronic variable valve lift.
While the N55 might not be as extreme as the N54 regarding tuning potential, it can comfortably handle additional power with the proper modifications.
Bolt-on performance parts and an ECU remap can significantly enhance the horsepower and torque output. As a result, even with the stock turbocharger, it’s possible to push the N55’s power output north of 400 horsepower.
2. BMW M5 (F90)
Up next on our list is the BMW M5 (F90).
For many BMW fans, the M5 is the quintessential high-performance luxury sedan.
Introduced in 2017, the F90 generation M5 has a 4.4-liter, twin-turbocharged V8 engine known as the S63.
It puts out a colossal 600 horsepower and 553 lb-ft of torque in the standard M5 and an even more impressive 617 horsepower in the Competition variant.
With this power, the M5 catapults from 0 to 60 mph in just 3.2 seconds, making it one of the fastest sedans on the planet.
What sets the S63 engine apart is BMW’s use of two twin-scroll turbochargers. They are positioned in the V of the engine to improve efficiency and minimize turbo lag, known as a ‘hot vee’ configuration.
The F90 M5 also introduced a new M xDrive all-wheel-drive system, a first for the M5 series.
This system enables the driver to choose between 2WD, 4WD, and 4WD Sport modes, depending on whether you want the stability of all-wheel drive or the thrill of rear-wheel drive.
3. BMW M340i
The BMW M340i is more than just a run-of-the-mill 3 Series.
At the heart of the M340i lies a gem: BMW’s B58 engine.
This 3.0-liter inline-six engine delivering 326 horsepower is arguably the best turbocharged engine BMW has ever made!
BMW has carefully calibrated the B58 to deliver its punch smoothly across the rev range, ensuring a linear and consistent power delivery for a truly satisfying driving experience.
Whether you’re accelerating off the line or overtaking on the highway, the M340i is always eager to respond.
Another characteristic of the B58 engine that deserves mention is its exhaust note, which definitely adds to the driving pleasure.
And for the modding community, the B58 engine holds substantial tuning potential. Even with a simple remap, you’ll quickly exceed the 400-horsepower mark.
All in all, the BMW M340i masterfully blends the usability of a daily driver with the performance credentials of a sports car!
4. BMW M2
Speaking of turbocharged models that effortlessly blend everyday drivability with heart-racing performance, the BMW M2 absolutely deserves a place on our list.
Much like its bigger sibling, the M340i, the M2 is powered by a 3.0-liter inline-six engine. However, in the case of the M2, it’s the N55 engine that sits under the hood in the standard version and the more powerful S55 engine for the M2 Competition.
The N55 version offers a healthy 365 horsepower, while the M2 Competition increases it to 405 horsepower thanks to its S55 engine.
The S55 engine, which is essentially a detuned version of the engine found in the larger M4, features two single-scroll turbochargers.
This setup offers excellent response and performance across the rev range, making it one of the most versatile engines BMW has ever produced.
In short, it embodies BMW’s philosophy of creating the ultimate driving machine.
And if you’re looking to make your M2 even more potent, you’re in luck. Both the N55 and S55 engines are highly tunable. With a well-tuned ECU and a few performance mods, you can extract even more power from them!
Tip: If you ever get the chance to drive one, don’t forget to try its launch control feature!
5. BMW M760Li xDrive
Making the next entry onto our list is one of BMW’s flagships, the BMW M760Li xDrive.
Under the hood of the M760Li lies the N74, a 6.6-liter twin-turbocharged V12 engine that pushes out a staggering 601 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque.
The BMW M760Li xDrive is not only powered by a V12, it’s also one of the most expensive BMW models ever!
The brilliance of the N74 engine lies in how it uses two turbochargers to ensure a seamless and linear power delivery throughout the rev range, virtually eliminating turbo lag.
Combining this with the 8-speed automatic transmission, xDrive all-wheel-drive system, and even BMW Active Steering gives you a luxury car that accelerates like a sports car.
6. BMW 2002 Turbo
Taking a detour from all the modern BMWs, we rewind the clock to look at a car ahead of its time – the BMW 2002 Turbo.
This little powerhouse isn’t just a turbocharged BMW; it’s a piece of history – the first European production car fitted with a turbocharger.
Launched in 1973, the 2002 Turbo was powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four engine known as the M10.
Despite its seemingly modest displacement, this engine produced an impressive 170 horsepower and 177 lb-ft of torque, which, back in the early 70s, made the 2002 Turbo one of the fastest cars on the road.
Of course, the 2002 Turbo was not without its quirks.
For example, it suffered heavily from turbo lag, a delay between the driver pressing the accelerator and the turbocharger delivering the extra power. However, you can also see it as part of the charm!
And let’s not forget the infamous reverse ‘Turbo’ script on the front spoiler, designed to be read in the rear-view mirrors of the cars it was about to overtake!
7. BMW M140i
Next on our list is the BMW M140i, a compact hatchback often considered a sleeper car due to its relatively understated appearance.
The heart of the M140i is the B58 engine, a 3.0-liter, inline-six powerhouse with a single twin-scroll turbocharger. It’s the same engine we discussed for the BMW M340i!
Thanks to its rear-wheel-drive layout – a rarity in the hot hatch segment – and its superbly balanced chassis, the M140i delivers engaging handling, offering tons of fun whether you’re navigating back roads or putting it through its paces on a track day.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a proper BMW without the tuning potential, and the M140i is no exception. The B58 engine responds well to modifications, meaning you can further enhance its performance with a few well-chosen upgrades.
8. BMW M8
The BMW M8 takes the crown of BMW’s performance lineup.
It’s powered by an S63 4.4-liter, twin-turbocharged V8 engine, which cranks out 600 horsepower in the standard model and an even more impressive 617 horsepower in the M8 Competition variant.
These numbers aren’t just for show; they allow the M8 to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 3.1 seconds for the Competition model, making it one of the quickest (and most expensive) BMWs ever made.
9. BMW X5 M
Next is the BMW X5 M, which proves that high-performance thrills aren’t limited to coupes and sedans.
With this model, BMW has turned a practical SUV into a performance machine without compromising comfort or utility.
Under the hood of the X5 M is a familiar friend, the S63, a 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8 engine. (Just check for the failing timing chain symptoms before buying one.)
It allows the X5 M to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in a breathtaking 3.8 seconds!
And thanks to its adaptive M suspension, M-specific xDrive all-wheel-drive system, and active roll stabilization, the X5 M handles with the agility and precision of a much smaller car.
Related article: BMW X5: Regular Or Premium Gas? Find Out What’s Best!
10. BMW 1 Series M Coupe
Swinging back towards the compact side of the spectrum, we find the BMW 1 Series M Coupe.
Beneath the hood of the 1 Series M Coupe is the N54, a 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged inline-six engine. This compact powerhouse put out 335 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque, with an over-boost function that can briefly increase torque to 369 lb-ft.
But the 1 Series M Coupe also offered razor-sharp handling, thanks to its lightweight, compact size, and well-balanced chassis.
This, coupled with the rear-wheel-drive layout and precise manual transmission, made the 1 Series M Coupe a joy to drive on twisty roads and a competent performer on the track.
11. BMW 330i (G2x)
As we near the end, we land on the BMW 330i, a model that serves as the cornerstone of the 3 Series lineup.
This car demonstrates that even in BMW’s more accessible models, turbocharged performance and an enjoyable driving experience are priorities.
The 330i is powered by the B48 engine, a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four with a robust 255 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque.
The B48 engine features a single, twin-scroll turbocharger that helps provide quick throttle response and a broad powerband, ensuring power is readily available at all RPMs.
12. BMW i8
Finally, we arrive at the BMW i8, a futuristic hybrid sports car that shows how turbocharging can work in harmony with electrification.
The BMW i8 features a unique powertrain setup, combining a 1.5-liter turbocharged inline-three engine with an electric motor. While the engine might seem small, it can produce 228 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque.
The turbocharged engine powers the rear wheels, while the electric motor, which contributes an additional 141 horsepower, drives the front wheels. Working together, they allow the i8 to sprint from 0 to 60 mph in just 4.2 seconds.
With the BMW i8, we see how the brand’s commitment to turbocharged performance evolves to meet the challenges of a changing automotive landscape.
FAQs about turbocharged BMWs
If you’ve more questions about turbocharged BMWs, check out these FAQs:
What turbo brand does BMW use?
BMW primarily uses its own in-house turbochargers for its models. Occasionally, BMW may collaborate with external suppliers. For example, Mitsubishi Turbochargers supplies the new BMW M3 and M4 with its turbocharger technology.
Are BMW turbochargers reliable?
In general, BMW’s turbochargers are known for their durability and aren’t one of the common BMW reliability concerns. Also, regular maintenance, following BMW’s service recommendations, and proper driving habits can all contribute to the longevity and reliability of a BMW turbocharger.
Which BMW is the best to tune?
Several BMW models are popular for tuning, but the BMW 335i often stands out as the best due to its potent N54/N55 engines. These twin-turbocharged inline-six engines are known for their robust construction, allowing for substantial power gains with modifications.
Other models, such as the M2, M3, and M5, also have strong followings in the tuning community.
To wrap things up, it’s evident that BMW’s long-standing tradition of turbocharging has resulted in an impressive lineup of vehicles.
Which is your favorite turbocharged BMW? And do you think we’ve missed any specific models for this list?
Let us know in the comments below, and have a great rest of your day!
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