The BMW F30 is the sixth iteration of the notorious BMW 3-Series. Released in 2011, the F30 chassis replaced the E90 3-Series which was unquestionably due for a refresh. With the introduction of the BMW F30 came a number of firsts for the 3-Series chassis and BMW as a whole. The F30 range was the first example of the BMW 3-Series powered entirely by turbocharged engines. Somewhat controversially, it was also the first BMW 3-Series to move away from hydraulic power steering in favor of electronic power steering.
The BMW F30 range is quite extensive, with five different models (excluding the F80 M3) being offered in the United States. US-spec BMW F30 3 Series models include the 320i, 328i, 330i, 335i, and 340i which all feature xDrive-equipped variants as well. F30 engine options ranged from the N20B20 4-cylinder to the beastly B58 6-cylinder found in the 340i. Ultimately, there was no shortage of F30 3-Series options to choose from and there was something for everybody in the lineup.
The BMW F30 was, and still is, a divisive chassis in the 3-Series lineage. Since the F30 represented such a mega leap forward from the beloved E46 and E90 generations that preceded it, the F30 polarized BMW fans. While it introduced some fantastic engines to the BMW fleet and modernized the 3-Series inside and out, many enthusiasts felt that the F30 lacked the driver-focused soul of the previous 3-Series.
With that being said, it is possible to highlight the F30’s buried character with some choice modifications. In this guide, we’ll cover some of the best performance and aesthetic modifications that you can do to an F30 3-Series to separate yours from the pack.
BMW F30 3-Series Mod Considerations
Before jumping into our list of F30 modifications, let’s first talk a bit about the F30 3-Series itself. As we have already covered, there are quite a few models and variants in the F30 lineup. As a result, the best F30 modifications can vary significantly based on the model, engine, and condition of your F30. While there are great performance modifications for all F30 models, some are more supportive of engine modifications than others. For example, there is far more aftermarket support for the BMW B58 engine than there is for the B48 engine found in the F30 330i.
With that being said, there are quite a few fantastic modifications that apply to the F30/F31/F32/F34 chassis as a whole, regardless of the model. In this article, we’ll mainly be focused on those types of 3-Series modifications. We’ll primarily be focused on modifications that will improve handling, sound, and aesthetics; all things that will make your BMW F30 3 Series a better car during daily use. We’ll also include a couple of performance-increasing 3 Series mods as well.
While F30 BMWs are factory equipped with a solid foundation as far as suspension is concerned, it is generally agreed that most models could benefit from a slightly more rigid and planted setup. Stock, non-MSport, BMW F30 3 Series suspension is actually very similar to the previous generation E90’s suspension, with a double-pivot MacPherson setup in front and a five-link rear setup. While the F30 featured a more refined version of the suspension arrangement, there are better options out there in terms of performance and aesthetics.
There are a few different options when it comes to BMW F30 suspension upgrades. Ultimately, the right suspension setup for your 3 Series boils down to a few different factors; your budget, your handling goals, and how much of a visual difference you want. In general, the two most popular BMW F30 3 Series suspension upgrades are lowering springs and coilovers. Each has its own benefits and shortcomings.
Lowering springs tend to be much less expensive than coilovers while still providing a decent drop in ride height and stiffer and more planted suspension characteristics. However, lowering springs lack the adjustability that is provided by F30 coilovers and tend to wear faster than factory suspension. By contrast, BMW 3 Series coilovers provide the most significant difference in performance. Not only are F30 coilovers height adjustable, they often come with camber and damping adjustment. Since coilovers replace the entire stock 3 Series suspension assembly, they tend to handle much better than a simple lowering spring setup.
Ultimately, if maximum handling is the utmost goal for your BMW F30 3 Series, there is no replacement for a quality set of 3 Series coilovers. However, if you are looking for the aesthetic benefit of lowering your F30 3-Series 1-2” on a budget, lowering springs are also a solid option.
Best BMW F30 Coilover Option
KW V2 BMW F30 3 Series Coilovers
Ride Height Drop: 1.7-2.9″Front & 1.7-2.9″Rear
Purchase Here: turnermotorsport.com
KW is one of the most popular coilover manufacturers out there for BMWs and other performance vehicles. KW V2’s add significant performance-altering features that justify the price.
In terms of ride height adjustment, the KW V2 set will allow for a 25-50mm drop in the front and a 30-55mm drop in the rear. This amount of ride height adjustability should be enough for any fitment needs, both aesthetically and in terms of performance.
Best BMW F30 Lowering Springs
Dinan Performance Lowering Spring Set
Ride Height Drop: 1”
Purchase Here: dinancars.com
Dinan truly needs no introduction in terms of their reputation in the BMW tuning scene. As a BMW partner in the past, Dinan is known for their quality products and experience with BMW exclusively. Performance is at the top of Dinan’s list as far as their F30 lowering springs are concerned. Their CNC wound springs with high tensile chrome silicon wire are of utmost quality and are manufactured with the explicit goal of reducing body roll and increasing chassis stiffness. While not adjustable, Dinan F30 lowering springs adjust F30 ride height to the perfect degree and improve handling substantially.
This one is an important upgrade for those looking to maximize F30 performance without breaking the bank. An upgraded downpipe is, in most cases, one of the most beneficial modifications that you can do to a turbocharged car. Since the BMW B20, B48, N55 and B58 are all turbocharged, they can all benefit significantly from an upgraded downpipe. Since all of the engines found in the BMW F30 3 Series feature a restrictive catalytic converter within the downpipe, exhaust velocity and flow is significantly choked at the first step in the F30 exhaust.
BMW F30 Catless Downpipe
The drop in pressure from pre-turbo to post-turbo greatly affects a turbocharger’s ability to spool. Hot exhaust gases accelerate as they look to expand into less dense air. Therefore, reducing back pressure allows the air to escape faster leading to improved turbo spool and higher boost. This is the main benefit that a catless BMW F30 3 Series downpipe can provide. Catless 3 Series downpipes provide the most significant increase in performance due to the fact that they remove the most significant restriction in the exhaust system completely. That can ultimately lead to a performance gain of 15-20 horsepower.
While catless 3 Series downpipes will garner the most significant horsepower gains, they are also problematic for a few reasons. Installing a catless downpipe on your BMW F30 3 Series will prohibit it from passing emissions in almost all US states. They can also produce a distinct and potent smell that many people dislike.
A catless F30 downpipe is ideal for a track-built BMW F30 3 Series but is not a good idea for street builds as you’ll have to swap the catless downpipe for an OEM one any time that you had an emissions test. With that being said, they are unquestionably the least restrictive option. Catless 3-Series downpipes tend to be the least expensive F30 downpipes as well, due to the fact that less material is used.
BMW F30 VRSF N20/B48/B58 Catless Downpipe
N20 Catless Downpipe: vr-speed.com
B48 Catless Downpipe: vr-speed.com
B58 Catless Downpipe: vr-speed.com
VRSF is our favorite option for bolt-ons on any BMW turbo engines. We believe their balance of price, quality, and performance is unmatched. It’s hard to go wrong with an N20 catless downpipe from VRSF. Tested, proven, and great quality all at an excellent price. As with the other N20 catless downpipe options, expect power gains in the ballpark of 15-20whp.
BMW F30 High-Flow Downpipe
If you are intending on daily driving your BMW F30 and need a downpipe option that will still allow you to pass emissions while still increasing performance, a high-flow catted downpipe is your best bet. Unlike a catless 3-Series downpipe, a high-flow downpipe retains a catalytic converter, but replaces the restrictive factory BMW catalytic converter with one that has significantly improved flow characteristics.
While an upgraded F30 high-flow downpipe will unquestionably increase horsepower, the change won’t be as noticeable as it would be with a catless downpipe. Expect to gain around 5-10 whp from an N20 high-flow downpipe and potentially around 10-15 whp from a high-flow B58 downpipe. High-flow BMW F30 3 Series downpipes also lack the potent smell commonly associated with a catless downpipe.
BMW F30 Turner Motorsport N20/B48/B58 High-Flow Downpipe
Purchase Here: turnermotorsport.com
While most people think of wheels as a purely cosmetic modification, a new set of lightweight, high-quality BMW wheels can be a game-changer in terms of handling and performance as well. Additionally, some new BMW F30 wheels can also allow you to fit wider tires and bigger brakes, further improving grip and stopping power.
By installing wheels that are lighter than OEM BMW F30 3 Series wheels, you are reducing both unsprung and rotational weight from the 3-Series chassis. Unsprung and rotational weight are the two most detrimental types of mass as the vehicle’s engine has to do more work to propel rotating weight that lies beneath the suspension. As a result, cast or forged aluminum BMW wheels can make an extremely noticeable difference in cornering and maneuverability.
Choosing a set of aftermarket BMW wheels can also open up the possibilities for a multitude of different tire setups that aren’t possible with OEM F30 wheels. While the F30 3-Series came with a multitude of staggered wheel and tire setups from the factory, the options are expanded substantially for both square or staggered wheel setups.
Since the BMW F30 shares the same 5×120 bolt pattern as most other modern BMWs and an array of other vehicles, aftermarket F30 wheels are extremely easy to find. With that being said, quality is of utmost priority when choosing wheels, as the potential negatives of low-quality wheels are significant.
Apex ARC-8/ARC-8R Wheels
Price: $299.00 – $660.00 per wheel
Purchase Here: apexraceparts.com
APEX is a wheel manufacturer that has firmly established their place in the BMW aftermarket wheel market. While they manufacture wheels for more than just BMWs, they have a very good reputation in the BMW community on chassis ranging from the E30 to the G80. APEX offers both flow-formed and forged wheels for the F30 and F32 with the forged options being slightly more expensive.
The APEX ARC-8 is one of the company’s best-selling wheel styles and it isn’t hard to see why. The design is truly classic and works well on practically any BMW chassis. The split-spoke design compliments the F3X chassis very well, adding some visual intrigue to the lower part of your 3-Series.
BMW F30 3 Series JB4 Tuner
If you are looking to get a bit more power out of your BMW N20, B48, N55, or B58 engine, a quality BMW tuner is a necessity. While there are a few quality options on the market, including MHD, Active Autowerke, and BM3, the Burger Motorsports JB4 is unquestionably the most versatile F30 tuner on the market.
The JB4 works wonders whether you are running the JB4 as a stand-alone tune or coupling it with a back-end flash tune. The BMW JB4 is extremely easy to install and doesn’t require any additional modifications for most of the entry pre-installed tunes. With no additional modifications, a JB4 paired with a bone stock B58 340i can yield 80-wheel horsepower right out of the gate on pump gas. Gains are similarly impressive on a B48 330i with a 40 whp increase without any additional modifications. When bolt-ons or other more significant modifications are introduced, the sky is the limit with an F30 JB4.
When it comes to 3-Series tuning, there are a few necessities that a solid piggyback tuner needs to provide. These necessary features include the ability to adjust fuel tables, boost levels, the ability to log data, and the ability to read and delete fault codes. The Burger Motorsports JB4 tuner does all of that and a significant amount more. Ultimately, the BMW JB4 is as customizable as you want it to be. If you prefer sticking to preloaded maps, the JB4 comes preloaded with 8 customized maps depending on your modifications and fuel.
BMW F30 3-Series Burger Tuning JB4 Tuner
Purchase Here: burgertuning.com
BMW F30 3 Series Front and Rear M-Sport Bumper Conversion
For our last F30 3-Series mod, we’ll go for a cosmetic modification. It is pretty much universally agreed that the F30 3-Series is lacking in the looks department. That is especially true for F30s that weren’t ordered with the M-Sport package. The M-Sport F30 front and rear bumpers get rid of the rounded body lines of the base model and introduce some more aggressive styling.
Compared to the standard F30 bumpers, the M-Sport bumpers are more angular and sculpted. The front M-Sport bumper adds a large lower inlet surrounded by two fog light inlets as well. While the increased intake size isn’t necessarily a massive functional improvement, it certainly modernizes the F30 facia. The rear M-Sport bumper is equally as aggressive, with angular creases above the exhaust exits. A full M-Sport conversion kit is a good option for those that are looking to refresh the look of their F30 3-Series without being as flashy as an M3 bumper swap.
One of the best things about an M-Sport bumper swap as a 3-Series mod they fit on every F30/F31/F34 model. Whether you have an F30 3-Series sedan, wagon, or GT, the M-Sport bumpers will fit. The only unfortunate aspect of purchasing new M-Sport bumpers is the fact that they can’t be ordered paint-matched. As a result, you’ll have to have them painted to match the paint code of your F30.
BMW F30 3-Series M-Sport Front and Rear Bumpers
Purchase Front M-Sport Bumper Here: kiesmotorsports.com
Purchase Rear M-Sport Bumper Here: kiesmotorsports.com
BMW F30 3-Series Mod Summary
While the BMW F30 3-Series might not be a fan favorite compared to the 3-Series generations that preceded it, it is still a very capable car that can benefit significantly from a few modifications. Despite the multitude of engine options, body styles, and models that the F30 3-Series range offers, there are some modifications that are universally beneficial.
One of the most significant modifications when it comes to performance is upgraded F30 suspension. The choice between F30 coilovers and F30 lowering springs is entirely dependent on your own individual needs, but it has to be said that F30 coilovers will provide a better overall handling experience. Upgraded F30 wheels play into the handling category too, as lightweight wheels can help reduce unsprung rotational weight which will significantly improve your F30’s chassis dynamics.
On the performance front, many F30 owners claim that a Burger Tuning JB4 should be the first 3-Series mod that you should do. Due to the fact that the JB4 can provide massive power gains without any additional mods, it is a great way to wake your F30 up while also future-proofing your build. Since every US F30 3-Series model is turbocharged, an upgraded downpipe can have a massive effect on performance as well. By removing exhaust restrictions, your BMW’s engine can breathe significantly better, resulting in some extra power.
Finally, we have a cosmetic 3-Series mod that can transform the appearance of your F30 BMW completely. If your F30 came with non-M-Sport bumpers, it is possible to swap them with the more angular and aggressive M-Sport front and rear bumpers. While there is no functional gain from swapping bumpers, the refreshed look certainly modernizes the F30’s looks.
If you enjoyed this article and are looking for more F30 content, check out our BMW N55 BM3 F-Chassis Tuning Guide. As always, safe driving!