S55 Intake Upgrade Guide

BMW S55 M3/M4 Performance Intake Guide

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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.

Dual cone intakes on twin turbo BMWs are an excellent bolt-on mod. The factory S55 air-box is restrictive on the top-end and muffles turbo and induction sounds. However, replacing the restrictive OEM M3 & M4 system with a performance intake is a great way to extract some extra power and sound. In this guide, we will cover the benefits of S55 performance intakes and list a few popular options on the market.

S55 Performance Intake Designs

We’re primarily focused on open dual cone intakes in this post. However, both open and closed intake designs are available for the S55. Closed systems are similar to the OEM design. They replace the factory air-boxes with a more efficient design and often use cone filters. On the other hand, open intakes get rid of the top of the air-boxes (often referred to as dual cone intakes). The intake is open to the engine bay. Though, some open intake systems relocate the filters behind the kidney grilles. This brings us to our next points.

There are two primary ways in which an aftermarket intake may provide performance benefits. One, the system brings in cooler air. This is generally minor as the air travels through incredibly hot turbos where it’s eventually cooled by the heat exchanger. As such, pulling in air a few degrees cooler is unlikely to have noticeable benefits. Two, the upgraded intake design is less restrictive than the factory design. Open intakes tend to provide the best flow. However, they may pull in slightly warmer air.

This is exactly why some systems reroute the filters behind the grill. Although, open intakes in the engine bay are unlikely to pull significantly warmer air. BMS has tested this and shown air pulled directly from the engine bay has a minimal impact on actual IAT’s. This is because IAT’s are measured after the heat exchanger, and that’s really the only air temperature reading that matters. Additionally, open intake systems retain the OEM cold air ducting. Also, the engine bay receives adequate fresh air-flow at speed meaning the air isn’t much warmer, if at all, than outside the engine bay.

S55 Upgraded Intake Performance

The S55 M3/M4 OEM intake design has proven to be restrictive. This is especially true when tuned and modded. All else constant, higher boost and more power demand additional air-flow. Efficient upgraded intakes are able to meet these higher demands. As such, S55 upgraded intakes offer the following benefits:

  • 0-10+whp
  • Similar torque gains
  • Cleaner engine bay, easier maintenance
  • Sound improvement

Bone stock S55’s are unlikely to see noticeable improvements. However, tune-only cars should expect horsepower gains in the 5-10whp ballpark. Highly modded S55’s, especially with upgraded twin turbos, may see even more dramatic gains. Additionally, torque gains are roughly the same as power. Open intakes also remove the bulky air-boxes and free up some space in the engine bay. We believe this makes for a cleaner, more spacious M3 engine bay.

S55 Dual Cone Intake Sound

The sounds from dual cone intakes deserve their own section. A lot of sound from the M3 & M4 is muffled by the S55 factory air-boxes. Open intakes completely remove the top of the air-boxes, thereby freeing up turbo and induction sounds. It’s really a unique, intoxicating sound. We love it and recommend dual cones intakes for the sound alone, if not for the potential power gains.

You will definitely hear turbo and induction sounds on the lower-end and mid-range, especially under moderate or heavy boost. Upgraded closed intake designs will also lead to sound improvements, but generally to a lesser extent.

Best S55 M3/M4 Upgraded Intakes

In this section, we will list a few popular, quality intakes that we believe are among the best options for the S55 M3 and M4. There are tons of options so this is not at all an exhaustive list.

1. VRSF S55 M3/M4 Front Facing Dual Cone Intakes

VRSF S55 Front Facing Intake

We love all VRSF products for their excellent balance of price, quality, and performance. This S55 M3/M4 option is a front facing dual cone intake design, meaning the filters reside behind the kidney grilles. The above picture may be hard to see, but you may catch a glimpse of the filter behind the grille. These will pull in some of the coldest air possible. Additionally, the open intake design allows for maximum air-flow. Expect peak power gains around 10whp with a tune. VRSF M3 & M4 intakes offer a perfect balance of quality, price, and performance. This is a great option for anyone who likes the rerouted design.

S55 VRSF Front Facing DCI Price: $449.99

Buy Here: VRSF S55 Front Facing Dual Cone Intakes

2. VRSF S55 Dual Cone Intakes

VRSF S55 Intake

VRSF offers yet another excellent option for the S55. This is also an open-intake design. However, unlike the above option, these intakes reside within the engine bay in the stock locations. Again, we believe VRSF offers excellent S55 M3 and M4 products for the price. This design comes in at $249.99 and is incredibly easy to install. If you’re not dying to relocate the intakes behind the grilles then this is our favorite option. Expected power gains also come in around 10whp. Though, the first option will maybe, just maybe, net an extra few horsepower due to the cooler air design.

S55 VRSF DCI Price: $249.99

Buy Here: VRSF S55 Dual Cone Intakes

3. BMS S55 Elite Performance Dual Cone Intakes

BMS S55 Intake

Burger Motorsports (BMS), the creators of the popular JB4 tunes, also offers an excellent intake for the S55 engine. Like the previous VRSF option, this is an open intake design that remains in the factory location. It’s also a great balance of price, quality, and performance. Though, BMS is typically a bit more price competitive so it’s surprising to see this intake is $479. It’s still a fair price for a great product but we would recommend the VRSF options. Both BMS and VRSF use S&B filters so they’re very similar products. Once again, expect the M3 & M4 pick up about 10whp.

BMS Elite S55 Intake Price: $479

Buy Here: S55 BMS Elite Performance Intake

4. Turner Motorsports M3 & M4 Performance Intake

Turner Motorsports S55 Intake

This is a unique option since it allows for quite a bit of customization. First, it comes with the S55 dual cone filters. Then you can select aluminum, matte carbon fiber, or gloss carbon fiber inlet tubes. Finally, choose between matte carbon or gloss carbon fiber intake lids, or opt for no lid and keep it as an open intake design. As shown above, the carbon fiber design looks awesome on the S55 M3 and M4.

This is a great choice for those wanting a carbon fiber closed intake design. If you prefer sticking to the S55 open intakes then we don’t really recommend this product. The filters alone are $447.06, which seems to be where they’re building in their profit margins. We’re not positive what filters they’re using but it’s still crazy pricing. BMS and VRSF source their cone filters from S&B who make excellent products. The filters directly from S&B are only about $60. We believe this system is over priced if you opt for the open intakes. However, it’s pretty well priced compared to other closed carbon fiber systems.

Turner S55 Intake Price: $626 – $1,186

Buy Here: Turner Motorsports S55 Performance Intake

BMW S55 Upgraded Intakes Summary

Upgraded intakes are a great way to extract some extra power and sound out of modded S55 M3 & M4 engines. We prefer the open intake design for its superior flow and sound. Expect power gains in the 5-10whp ballpark on tune-only S55’s. However, heavily modded S55’s may pick up even more power, especially on the top-end. If not for the power gains, we recommend an open intake for the sounds alone. You’ll hear dramatic improvements to turbo and induction sounds.

VRSF offers two excellent options for the S55. Choose between their basic design that remains in the factory location or opt for the rerouted intakes behind the kidney grilles. BMS offers a similar system with the same S&B filters, but comes in a bit pricier. Finally, Turner Motorsports offers great customization so you can get the exact intake you want. In our opinion, they’re a bit overpriced for open systems but very well priced if you option it out as a carbon fiber closed system. Regardless of your choice, we highly recommend S55 upgraded intakes and believe you can’t go wrong with this mod.

Check out our guide to build a 600+WHP S55 for less than $2,000!

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