If you have an E46 M3, we don’t need to tell you how awesome it is. With the values at an all-time affordability for new enthusiasts to pick up, there are likely quite a few of us who grew up with the E46 M3 as our dream car who now are able to snag one. Of course, manual transmission coupe facelift models are still commanding a premium, but early models, convertibles, and SMG examples are quite attainable for even the most modest budget. So, if you picked up an E46 M3 and are enjoying it as you should be, what’s next? The S54 engine produces 333hp from the factory, but we can always get more. If you just bought, or are looking to buy, an E46 M3, this is what you need to make more power without spending too much money. These are five E46 M3 upgrades for power and performance you can make for under $1,500.
Bet you didn’t think we were going to start off heavy, did you? Listen, the E46 M3 is tough to improve with just bolt-ons. Camshaft upgrades are a fantastic way to increase the power ceiling by increasing the lift and duration of your cams for greater airflow. The 288/280 set of upgraded Cat Cams are a great way to make a reasonable improvement to your E46 M3 that will allow you to grow in the future with more supporting mods that will make a larger difference. At $1109.95, they also leave room for one more upgrade we would recommend that we’ll cover next.
Shark Injector Software
At a mere $449.00, the Shark Injector V2.0 Performance Software is one of the best upgrades you can make, and simultaneously one of the easiest. The Shark Injector will remove your top speed limiter, increase your redline to 8100RPM, improves throttle response, and adds up to 22hp. This simple plug-and-play upgrade wakes up the already impressive S54 and makes your driving experience that much better.
While not the most noticeable in terms of power, the addition of a performance intake is about giving your S54 room to grow. More air in means more power, especially when the air is colder and denser. When you know more performance upgrades are on the way in the future, adding an intake like the aFe Power Stage 2 intake is a perfect choice that will keep you well under your $1,500 budget. You can do both the Shark Injector and an intake upgrade while still remaining within an affordable cost.
The addition of Turner Motorsport’s Power Pulleys are not themselves something that add power. What they do is free up existing power that is lost to driven accessories by underdriving those power parasites. The upgraded power pulleys prevent your engine from diverting power to things that don’t put your horses to the ground. The Power Pulley set is only $422.46 which leaves you room for more upgrades inside your budget while adding up to about 10hp to the stock S54. Paired with either an intake or the Shark Injector, you’d be able to add a total of 32hp, give or take, to break past that 350hp (at the crank) mark in your otherwise stock M3.
Stage 3 Power Pack
Last, and probably best, is the S54 Stage 3 Power Pack. Our take on the best ‘bang for your buck,’ the power pack is the Turner Motorsport Power Pulley set, the Intake Air Temperature Relocation kit, the aFe Power stage 2 intake, and the Shark Injector V2.0 software all for $1,274.69. That means you can have four of the best upgrades for power and performance all in one go for a lot less than you could find them all individually. This is hands down the best thing to do, unless you just want to blow your budget on a set of upgraded cams.
So, with all these ideas, what are you going to choose? We think the power pack makes the most sense, as it has all our recommendations in one package for just inside your budget of $1,500. Now go out there and improve your E46 M3!