BMW N54 Upgraded Exhaust Guide
Zach is a BMW enthusiast with a passion for performance. With over 10 years of experience modifying and performing DIY work on BMWs, he’s developed a deep understanding of virtually every BMW engine. He’s also the proud owner of a 600whp N54 with upgraded twin turbos and an E30 325i drift car and has a particular affinity for the S58 engine. Zach is highly knowledgeable about all things BMW, but his expertise in tuning and performance mods sets him apart. His experience as an enthusiast, combined with his technical knowledge, makes him an essential resource for anyone looking to improve the performance of their BMW.
We’ve written guides for many N54 bolt-on parts, but always overlook exhausts. That’s in part due to the underwhelming performance gains when compared to a tune, catless downpipes, etc. However, aftermarket exhaust set ups do have their benefits – sound and looks. In this guide, we will discuss some of our favorite exhaust set ups for the N54.
N54 Upgraded Exhaust Performance
As a note – we’re ignoring downpipes throughout this post. We wrote a separate post here. While downpipes are a part of the exhaust system they’re a bit unique. They provide by far the most impressive gains out of the entire exhaust system. N54 catless downpipes generally gain about 15-25whp. Ignoring those power gains a fully catless exhaust will likely show gains of ~5whp. That may be optimistic, too.
The point is – small horsepower gains are possible. However, we would NOT recommend an upgraded exhaust for the performance alone. There are easier, cheaper ways to make power on the N54.
N54 Weight Savings With Exhaust
Weight savings are another potential benefit from upgraded exhausts. We’ll discuss weight savings a bit more below in the exhaust recommendations. However, weight savings will generally fall in the ballpark of 20-50lbs. A lot of this of course depends on the specific exhaust, muffler delete, and secondary cat delete. N54 aftermarket exhaust weight savings are another minor added benefit. However – as with the power gains – we don’t recommend an exhaust for this alone.
N54 Exhaust Sounds
Sounds are tough to write in words. We’ll try to provide a few videos below when we dive into the recommendations. However, sound is often one of the main reasons N54 owners look to upgrade their exhausts. Unfortunately, it can be tough to make a decision. This is furthered by the fact videos often don’t do it justice.
However, we can say fully catless exhausts without mufflers are too loud for many. Expect plenty of drone and to draw the attention of others around. If you’re not looking for an extremely loud exhaust then you’ll likely want to consider options that include the secondary cats and/or muffler. Of course, cats are cheap so expect to pay a bit more for a catted exhaust.
Best BMW N54 Exhaust Upgrades
This is of course a bit subjective because there are so many different exhaust options that each provide different sounds. Again, small power gains and some weights savings are side benefits of upgraded exhaust. However, we recommend exhausts only for those looking for sounds. As such, you’re best off finding the exhaust and sound that fits your wishes. Anyways, we believe the following options provide a great balance of price, quality, and sound.
1. N54 VRSF Catback Exhaust – Street & Race
VRSF makes some excellent quality products for a great price. They have two options for the 335i: street and race exhausts. Both options remove the secondary cats, however the street exhaust comes with a muffler. The race exhaust does have a muffler. As such, the difference in sound is pretty drastic. VRSF’s N54 race exhaust will sound much louder. In the above video you can skip to roughly 8:20 for the sound comparison between the street and race exhausts. Note – that’s on a single turbo N54 so the sounds may be a bit different from stock turbos. However, you can clearly hear how drastically louder the race exhaust is.
The 135i only receives the street version with a muffler. That said, the 135i and 335i use different exhaust setups. Expect slightly different sounds from each model. All exhaust options for the 135i & 335i come in at $779.99, so it’s a no brainer for anyone who loves the sound, in our opinion.
Weight Savings: 42 lbs (335i street), 60 lbs (335i race), 34 lbs (135i)
Buy Here: N54 335i VRSF Catback Street & Race Exhausts
N54 135i VRSF Catback Street Exhaust
2. N54 COBB Catback Exhaust
It’s no secret COBB is a well known brand that makes some awesome products. However, you’re paying for the brand name so their exhaust comes in a bit pricier. Unfortunately, it appears COBB no longer offers an exhaust for the 135i. You might be able to find a used example or some shops that still have inventory lying around. Otherwise, the COBB exhausts are only available for the N54 335i models.
Overall, this is a pretty similar exhaust system to the VRSF street exhaust. Every exhaust will have different sounds, but we believe it’s pretty close to VRSF. Solid option overall for those willing to spend a bit extra for the COBB brand. We couldn’t track down any exact weight savings but suspect it’s in the ballpark of 30-40 pounds.
Weight Savings: ~30-40 lbs
Buy Here: N54 335i COBB Catback Exhaust
3. N54 REMUS Race Quad Axle-Back Exhaust
The REMUS option is a bit different from the exhausts we’ve mentioned thus far. This is an axle-back which means the mid-pipes and factory secondary cats remain in place. REMUS’ N54 exhaust only replaces the factory muffler and exhaust tips. To note – the 335i in the video above is running factory downpipes. Expect a bit more noise if you’re also running catless or high-flow catted downpipes.
Quad exhaust tips make the REMUS option unique, but keep in mind the fitment with the bumper. You may need to trim away part of your factory bumper or opt for an aftermarket rear bumper designed to house quad exhaust tips. It’s a neat exhaust, however it seems like too much of a hassle in our opinion. Additionally, the price isn’t cheap for an axle-back exhaust only. Again, we couldn’t find any exact weight savings but we’re assuming they’re minimal to non-existent.
Price: $1,340.64 (335i)
Weight Savings: 0-10 pounds
Buy Here: N54 335i REMUS Quad Axle-Back Exhaust
BMW N54 Upgraded Exhausts Summary
N54 exhaust power gains are pretty minimal when you factor out the downpipe. Those looking for power above all else are likely best suited to an upgraded downpipe only. The remainder of the exhaust will likely only provide power gains in the 0-5whp ballpark. Though, there may be slightly better gains to be had if you’re shooting for 600+whp. Regardless, upgraded exhausts should primarily be reserved for those looking for louder or unique sounds.
We’re providing one final video above. Hopefully this post at least provided a starting point when searching for 135i or 335i exhausts. Otherwise, we could go on for thousands of words writing about every possible exhaust combination possible. There are tons of different sounds you can get out of the N54 depending on turbo setups, BOV’s, intakes, downpipes, catbacks, axle-backs, etc. Most importantly, if you’re shopping for an aftermarket exhaust take your time and find the option that suits your personal preferences.
What exhaust are you running on your N54? Feel free to drop a comment and let us know!
I wish to read you guys talking about the 1 inch restriction on the stock exhaust and the theory about of that restriction affect the turbos…