CTS Turbo Intake Kit Review: The Loudest BMW Air Intake?

CTS Turbo Intake Kit Review: The Loudest BMW Air Intake?

If you’re an owner of a BMW with an N55 engine, you may have heard about the CTS Turbo Intake Kit.

But is it really worth it?

To find out, I’ve fitted this piece of engineering onto my BMW M135i and tested it out.

So, whether you’re considering an upgrade or just love keeping up with cool car mods, keep reading.

I’ll walk you through what it’s like to install this kit, the kick you’ll get out of your car’s performance, and that “aggressive race-inspired sound” that CTS Turbo promises.

Let’s get this show on the road!

Overview: CTS Turbo Air Intake Kit (for BMW N55)

Alright, let’s dive a bit deeper into what the CTS Turbo air intake kit is all about.

Right from the box, the kit includes several key components that are designed to work together.

Here is a complete overview of all the components you can expect:

CTS Turbo Intake Kit components

There’s the aluminum hexagon-shaped MAF (Mass Air Flow) housing that ensures that your car’s computer gets accurate air flow readings:

CTS Turbo Intake Kit installed closeup

This is a big deal because the wrong shape can mess with your car’s performance, but CTS Turbo nailed it with this design.

Then there’s the 3.5-inch mandrel-bent aluminum piping, coated in black powder for that sleek look and durability.

Plus, the air filter has a high-flow, inverted cone design that allows your engine to inhale more air:

CTS Turbo Intake Kit high flow air cone

And let’s not forget the shiny //CTS Turbo logo that’s laser-etched onto the kit – a great touch.

What’s also exciting is the versatility of this kit. It fits various BMW models, whether you have a rear-wheel drive or an xDrive setup, and it doesn’t matter if your car is manual or automatic.

Now, you might be thinking, “All these details sound great, but what does it actually mean for me and my car?”

I had the same question before I decided to give this kit a try.

In simple terms, it means that your car gets a boost in horsepower, and, maybe more importantly, much more exciting turbo noises!

Installing the CTS Turbo Intake Kit

Let’s talk about getting your hands a little dirty, but in a good way!

Installing the CTS Turbo air intake kit on my BMW M135i was surprisingly straightforward.

You don’t need to be a seasoned mechanic to pull off this upgrade.

With some basic tools and a bit of enthusiasm, you’re all set.

The air intake system sits right at the top of the engine bay, which is a big plus because it means you don’t have to navigate through a maze of engine components to get the job done.

For example, while I was at it, I also installed a CTS Turbo Inlet Pipe, which was definitely more challenging than the Intake Kit.

In my case, installing the CTS Turbo Intake Kit took around 45 minutes to remove the old parts and put the new ones in place.

Yep, that’s it – 45 minutes to give your car a new voice and some extra muscle!

It starts with removing the original air intake system, which is secured with a few clips and clamps:

BMW N55 engine air intake system removal

Next, install the CTS Turbo intake pipe with the OEM turbo inlet pipe clamp and the rubber grommet from the front of the car.

Getting the rubber grommet into the CTS Turbo intake pipe requires quite some force, but it is doable:

CTS Turbo Intake Kit Turbo pipe

With that done, the heat shield has to be assembled:

CTS Turbo Intake Kit heat shield parts

Here’s how the assembled piece looks:

CTS Turbo Intake Kit heat shield assembly

The CTS Turbo heat shield has three mounting points, which ensure it is sturdily attached to the car and doesn’t rattle:

CTS Turbo Intake Kit heat shield installation

One thing to note is that if you have a plastic cap above the heat shield, you will probably have to remove it. At least, in my case, the heat shield would not fit as it would bump into the plastic cap as shown below:

CTS Turbo Intake Kit heat shield installed with plastic cap

With the plastic cap removed and the heat shield in place, it’s time to turn to the rest of the components.

These include:

  • The hexagon-shaped aluminum MAF housing
  • A silicone coupler
  • The air intake holder
  • Clamps
  • A silicone cap that goes onto the MAF housing if you have a manual transmission
CTS Turbo Intake Kit MAF housing and silicone coupler

Before you install the MAF housing, you must transfer the MAF sensor from the original intake to the CTS MAF housing using the supplied bolts:

Transferring MAF sensor from factory N55 intake to CTS Turbo MAF housing

Be careful when handling the sensor because it is sensitive!

Once that is done, you can install the silicon coupler, MAF housing, MAF support bracket, and air filter.

When everything is lined up, you can start tightening the clamps. Start from the air filter cone side and work your way towards the turbo. This way, the likelihood of leaks will be the lowest!

Here’s how it looks when everything is installed:

CTS Turbo Intake Kit installed
CTS Turbo Intake Kit installed closeup

Tip: For detailed installation instructions, please refer to the guides CTS Turbo has published here.

9 Benefits of a CTS Turbo Intake Kit

Now, let’s get into the juicy part – the benefits of installing the CTS Turbo intake kit on your BMW.

Trust me, it’s more than just an aesthetic upgrade.

Here are the seven key advantages I experienced firsthand:

  1. Aggressive, race-inspired sound. This has to be heard to be believed. The sound transformation is night and day. The intake kit releases a turbo noise that is music to any car enthusiast’s ears. The whistling sound is so loud that you can even hear it at highway speeds during heavy acceleration and letting off the throttle. I genuinely believe this is the loudest BMW air intake available!
  2. Correctly shaped MAF housing. A significant benefit of the CTS Turbo intake kit is that the MAF housing is shaped like a hexagon, just like the factory system! Many other aftermarket intake kits use round MAF housings, which can cause incorrect MAF readings, leading to erratic idling, downshifting, and poor fuel mileage.
  3. Noticeable performance boost. Although the power gains from this kit probably won’t be huge, I did notice an extra bit of power, especially at the higher RPM ranges.
  4. Aesthetic upgrade. While performance and sound are the stars of the show, let’s not forget the visual appeal. The kit adds a polished, high-performance look to your engine bay.
  5. Easy installation. As I mentioned earlier, the ease of installation is a huge plus. You don’t need a garage full of tools or a mechanical engineering degree to install this kit. It’s straightforward, quick, and gives you a sense of accomplishment once done.
  6. Universal fit for BMW models. One of the great things about this kit is its versatility. Whether you have a rear-wheel-drive, xDrive, manual, or automatic BMW with an N55 engine, this kit is designed to fit.
  7. Enhanced engine efficiency. With the hexagon-shaped MAF housing and high-flow components, your engine can breathe better. Theoretically, it should lead to a slightly better fuel economy.
  8. 12-month warranty. All CTS Turbo products come with a 12-month warranty against manufacturing defects.
  9. Clear installation instructions. I really appreciated CTS Turbo’s detailed installation instructions, which not all tuning part manufacturers provide.

For anyone thinking about this upgrade, my advice is to go for it!

FAQs about Air Intakes

Have any more questions? Take a look at the FAQs below:

How much horsepower does a cold air intake add?

A cold air intake can typically add about 5 to 20 horsepower to your car, depending on the make and model. CTS Turbo claims peak power gains between 10 and 15 HP on an otherwise stock vehicle.

Do you need a tune before installing a cold air intake?

Generally, you don’t need to tune your car just to install a cold air intake. Most cold air intakes, including the CTS Turbo kit, are designed to work with the existing factory settings.

Does an air intake make the turbo louder?

Yes, installing a cold air intake often makes the turbocharger’s sounds more noticeable. This is because the intake reduces restriction and allows more air to flow through, which can amplify the sound of the turbo spooling up and the blow-off valve when it releases excess pressure.


If you’ve got a BMW with an N55 engine, like my BMW M135i, you’re probably curious whether this upgrade is worth it.

It totally is!

Putting this kit in my car was a straightforward task that ended up boosting my car’s performance and making it sound absolutely awesome.

It delivers on the excitement, enhances your car’s performance, and lets you enjoy every drive a little more.

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