It’s no secret BMW has made some excellent, fast high-performance cars. However, BMW has mostly kept away from horsepower wars, and has instead relied on building “The Ultimate Driving Machine”. Often, it’s about the handling and overall driving experience over pure power and straight-line speed. That doesn’t mean BMW hasn’t built some incredibly powerful engines, though. In this article, I discuss some of the most powerful BMW engines and cars ever built.
5) BMW N63B44T3 – M50i
Horsepower: 523 hp @ 5,500-6,000 rpm
Torque: 553 lb-ft @ 1,800-4,600 rpm
The BMW N63 is a twin-turbo 4.4L V8 that’s very closely related to the #1 most powerful BMW engine on this list. Some may know the N63 from its unreliable beginnings, but the modern TU, TU2, and TU3 engines looks significantly better than the original variants. Ultimately, the 4.4L V8 began its life as one of the most unreliable BMW engines, and has evolved into one of the most powerful, underrated BMW engines of all time.
Here we’re looking at the N63B44T3 engine found in many M50i models including the M550i, M850i, and X5 M50i. This engine delivers a breathtaking 523 horsepower and 553 lb-ft of torque. To note – that’s the same torque output as the 600+ horsepower S63 engine found in the BMW M5. It also manages to make that torque all the way from 1,800 to 4,600rpm. In other words, the N63B44T3 makes incredible power and torque throughout the entire powerband.
What’s more? The N63 can also be modified to make 600+whp with nothing more than a tune and basic bolt-on upgrades. Its power and performance from the factory are enough to make this list. The aftermarket potential simply helps solidify its place as one of the most powerful BMW engines.
4) BMW S58 – M4 CSL
Horsepower: 560 hp @ 6,250 rpm
Torque: 479 lb-ft @ 2,600-5,950 rpm
Not only is the BMW S58 the only inline-6 engine on this list, but it also deserves a higher ranking. However, I can’t rank it higher since this list is based on the most powerful BMW production engines – as they stand from the factory. If I changed the list to the best BMW engines or the most capable BMW engines then the S58 is the clear cut winner.
Anyway, the twin turbo 3.0L inline-6 cranks out 560 horsepower and 479 lb-ft of torque in the M4 CSL. It’s mechanically the exact same engine that is found in the M3, M4, X3M, and X4M. The M4 CSL simply receives some software updates to unleash a little more potential. I can’t say the full potential because the S58 isn’t even breaking a sweat at 560hp.
In fact, the BMW S58 can easily make 650-700+whp on the stock turbos. All it takes is a tune and a few basic bolt-ons. Conveniently, that’s all it takes to run mid 9’s @ 140+mph in the 1/4 mile, as shown in the video below. It’s also the S58 engine that was pushed to 1,000+ horsepower by the RedBull Drift Brothers. It may only rank fourth on this list, but make no mistake – the S58 is the real deal.
3) BMW S70/2 – McLaren F1
Horsepower: 618 hp @ 7,400 rpm
Torque: 455-480 lb-ft @ 6,700 rpm
Performance and horsepower have come a long way in the last few decades. As such, it may be a surprise to see a 30+ year old engine make the list of the most powerful BMW engines. The 6.1L V12 featured in the 1993-1998 McLaren F1 is still impressive by modern standards, though. I won’t even mention how crazy it was for the 1990’s.
Then again, if you’re building an engine for a legendary Formula 1 manufacturer, it better be a darn good engine. And the BMW S70/2 absolutely delivered. With 618 horsepower and 480 lb-ft of torque, it’s enough to remain one of BMW’s most powerful engines – even 30 years later.
A 5.6L V12 variant of the S70 – known as the S70B56 – was used in the 1992-1996 850CSi. Its 375 horsepower and 406 lb-ft were also impressive for the era, but not quite enough to make this list.
2) BMW N74 – Rolls Royce Wraith
Horsepower: 624 hp @ 5,600 rpm
Torque: 590 lb-ft @ 1,500-5,500r rpm
Another non-BMW model makes it to #2 on the list of the most powerful BMW engines. The Rolls Royce Wraith is powered by a 6.6L twin-turbocharged V12 engine, known as the N74B66. BMW also used this same engine in the 2016-2022 M760Li xDrive. It was simply a de-tuned variant that made 602 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque.
If I didn’t sing enough praises for the S70/2 in the McLaren F1 then let this soak in for a moment. It took an extra 0.5 liters of displacement, 20 years, and twin turbos to dethrone the S70/2 as BMW’s most powerful engine ever. By comparison, the N74’s title was short lived before it was overtaken by the next engine on the list.
1) BMW S63 – M5 CS
Horsepower: 627 hp @ 5,600-6,700 rpm
Torque: 553 lb-ft @ 1,800-5,800 rpm
The 4.4L twin-turbo V8 in the M5 CS takes the top-spot for the most powerful BMW engine of all time. It delivers an impressive 627 horsepower and 553 lb-ft of torque. It’s also the same engine found in many other M models including the M5, M8, X5M, and X6M. However, these “standard” M models offer a bit less at 617 horsepower and the same 553 lb-ft.
If 617-627 horsepower isn’t quite enough for you then worry not. Thanks to the twin-turbo design it has immense potential with some basic upgrades. The S63 is capable of making 700-750+whp with a tune and bolt-ons. Ultimately, the S63 holds the current crown for BMW’s most powerful engine. It will likely continue to hold that crown for the near future. Though, we wouldn’t be surprised to see new variants of the S63 tuned to make more than 627 horsepower from the factory.