First and foremost, Im sure we can all agree the BMW is an amazing driving machine. BMW has always made great complete cars. They try to excel in every category. They always are trying to engineer anything you can think of and make it better than everyone else. Not just engine horsepower, or throttle response, but down to the nittty gritty ipod/Bluetooth integration or suspension dampening. This is why we buy BMW's right? Because we know when we leave the corners of the road in a spirited fashion, we can shift our gears in 10ms while talking to our mom on Bluetooth as our DSC light remind us who is really looking out for who. Right? It just always seems the only thing they stay conservative on is horsepower. There¬’s the CLK's, the Z06's or even the GTR.... they all have MORE power but to me feel less complete of a car as a whole. Shall we add more power??? YES!!!
Now I have owned several cars of quite a few brands over the years. Of sports cars, I have had the G35, the Corvette, and now a M3. Unlike most of you, due to my employment situation I get to drive every BMW we make. Some are stock and some come in modified. As I have gotten older, which is tough to say as it is..... I have been finding I like my cars more quieter, more stock like....reliable! I just haven¬’t quite felt that feeling regarding less horsepower. Matter of fact I tried it.... I was an owner of a 2011 Honda Insight for 6 months which I delightfully traded in for my current M3. Now not being biased here, but in my own opinion I can say the BEST car BMW makes right now is the M3. Its hands down the most reliable. It is also to most likely to be the last Naturally Aspirated motor we make.
As Im sure you can find various upgrades all over this forum. Some yield more power than others. The age old test of time when modifying a vehicle is what you achieve? and what did you give up? This is getting back to that reliability part again.... which is most important right?
I have decided the right decision for me is a Supercharger. Now there are several companies that make some great products. They are all very similar but all very much different. I chose the VF 620 kit.
Now there is a lot to say about a kit when you just have one on your car. But there’s nothing like being able to appreciate every aspect of it when you install it yourself!
To increase horsepower without affecting other engine components is the name of the game. How is this achieved with this VF 620 kit? First, the Vortech V3 blower. It’s completely isolated from the engine unlike prior V-2 units. It requires no oil supply. It is self-lubricated and only requires its oil to be changed every 7500 miles. It has a drain line with a plug that you can route to the easiest location. I chose the drivers side lower splash panel. The V3 is also super quite¬…. Just barely noticeable noise at idle.
When supercharging the engine the biggest enemy is HEAT! The reason being the intake charge is being superheated when it is being compressed. Cooler charge temperatures also allow for more timing curve which also means MORE POWER! How do forced induction systems fight heat? Meth injection- temporary until your tank is empty. Air to Air intercooler, which is a descent choice. The most effective way is an Air to Water heat exchanger! Theres way more thermal efficiency, and you can keep heating and cooling your water circuit so it never runs out like Meth. The Air to Water heat exchanger is utilized in the VF 620 kit.
Installation was pretty straight forward. Feel free to look at my installation thread here:
The kit comes with its own 18 pin OBDII cable and software flash loader. Very simple to install and load with a laptop. Also comes with PDF file with step by step directions with color photos. Again as I talked about in my installation thread… its the little things. OEM crimp style clamps, all hoses covered in plastic protective sleeves, stepped silicone pressure hoses and very low intrusive installation.
Fit and Finish
Other than reliability this is the second most important area. That being said I like my vehicles stock looking. There is nothing more badass than having a tricked out ride, where your modifications are so sleek and smooth that it almost appears as if they were there from day one. Thats why Boyd Cottington was so popular in his early days…. Shaved door handles, lowered suspension and a clean set of wheels was the easiest way to really turn some heads without anyone picking up every detail. So why not let that be a primary target of installation of a supercharger kit. Now don’t get me wrong here, there has been several custom painted manifolds on this forum that look sweet, however thats not what Im really looking for. The VF manifold is a cast manifold with a black wrinkle finish just like the OEM manifold. You can have it painted differently upon request. The heat exchanger inside can be replaced separately if it were to ever leak for some reason. The intake tube is also a formed plastic tube with the same style finish. The supercharger bracket is CNC machined like it came from BMW, powder coated black again no flashy feel here. The V3 blower also black which is also the easiest color to respell heat. Not only does it have a stock looking finish its actually a functional aspect. There is only 2 really dead give away flashy items in this kit. First is the blow-off/bypass valve. Its a machined finish…. I would actually prefer if it was powder coated black to match the manifold. Second is the heat exchanger radiator. It’s the only thing visible from the outside with the hood closed. I did actually painted mine flat black with some high temp BBQ paint.
Performance and Drivability
The great thing about M-drive is the ability to change throttle feel. When you are pulling out of the parking lot with grandma you don’t want the throttle tip in to snap her neck. So why not retain stock aspects of the vehicle again with integration of the supercharger kit? That’s exactly what VF did. All throttle modes are still functional. I have been told the post cat oxygen sensor monitoring has been turned off so you can remove your cats for an extra 30hp or so without setting a check engine light. Obviously top speed limiter has been removed for those “Mexico” runs. Now what I really like about this kit, is you cant really feel the power until the higher RPM’s. From 1k to about 3500ish the car feels almost as it did before. HOWEVER it’s when you keep your foot buried to redline this baby is a rocket. Now I am already running 295 wide tires in the rear and they feel pretty close to adequate for this kind of horsepower. Whats nice this about the power band is that it definitely feels like its in the top end. When your grabbing gears (yes mine is a 6mt) the low end torque is not so overbearing that the back of the car feels like it’s going be out of control. If you have ever driven a corvette you know exactly what Im referring to. So the power band will still allow plenty of exit speed without crazy over steer. Most of the time my DSC light was blinking at me in 2nd or 3rd gear in the high mid-range rpms. Now for the everyday less spirited driving. I had no issues accelerating from a low speed in top gear. There was no bogging what so ever, and it never felt like it was going to stall. Nothing but a smooth even power band. I took my boss for a spin who drives and DINAN tuned F02 750il and his description was almost the exactly same. He said it “felt stock until he kept his foot in it, then it just growls and starts pulling away.”
So far I am more than satisfied with this modification. My only other mods to my car right now is a set of Eibach Springs and a wide set of VMR wheels. I can honestly say I don’t think I would want much more power than what this kit offers as the draw backs and reliability might out weight the gains. Good luck in whatever you choose!
Just a quick update..... 4/24/2011
Few VF rides at Mfest....
I also took off my manifold to shoot a quick pic down one of the throttle bodies for you. Its been almost 1000 miles on the kit already hahaha whoops? It was a little tough to focus with my iphone, but the valves look as they did on day one. There is no carbon build up, no oil deposits forming what so ever. Yes there is 47K on this baby with no fuel injection cleanings ever! Just good clean 91 octane gas being used. Glad to see horsepower can be added without added drawbacks.