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BMW 3-Series (E90 E92) Forum > E90 / E92 / E93 3-series Powertrain and Drivetrain Discussions > NA Engine (non-turbo) / Drivetrain / Exhaust Modifications > Review: Euro intake, K&N filter, BMW PE, AA stage 2 tune



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      08-29-2012, 07:35 PM   #1
Eric in SD
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Review: Euro intake, K&N filter, BMW PE, AA stage 2 tune

After a month of lurking on this board and a lot of reading I developed a plan to upgrade the performance of my recently acquired 2008 E92 328i 6MT with the N52 motor. I installed the upgrades one at a time. This allowed me the chance to separately judge the improvement each upgrade provided. Here is my review:

The Euro Intake (sourced from ECS Tuning) went in first. Very easy install, less than an hour, a direct OEM replacement. There was a noticeable improvement in performance, particularly in the low RPM’s, but also throughout the operating range. There is a slight change in tone from the engine, sort of a deep baritone voice coming on as you accelerate, but very subtle. This mod in and of itself provides a noticeable and worthy improvement in performance and throttle response.

Step two was the BMW Performance Exhaust (from Tischer BMW). I preplanned the install and obtained a sawsall for the cuts required. This took me about 2.5 hours by myself, delayed by my agonizing on exactly where to make the cuts. It was challenging to do this single handed with no lift, but a determined hack mechanic will not be dissuaded! Performance improvements were hard to judge with this mod because the exotic sweet sounds this exhaust emits confuse your perceptions. I tried to block that out by rolling up the windows and focusing on just the performance but I found it nearly impossible to separate the sound from the actual power gain. Emotions aside, I am afraid this mod is mostly ear candy. But what a sweet sound it makes! And I have to remind myself that I am laying the foundation for the next modification.

A couple of days after the PE install I got around to swapping out the stock paper cone filter in the Euro intake with the K&N filter (also from ECS Tuning). This change resulted in a little more responsive throttle, stronger pull from down low, and a little more urgency in the higher RPM’s. I also noticed a little different and slightly louder sound with the K&N. I am split on whether this is worth the $50 dollars it cost, maybe it will pay for itself because the filter is reusable…

The final step was to get the Active Autowerke Stage 2 tune for the N52. I spoke to Andrew at AA and decided to have the install done locally at Oceanside Motorsports. Neal at OM was great to deal with. OM has quite an impressive high tech setup to perform the required procedure. The download/upload went very smoothly from my perspective and took about 2.5 hours while I waited.

I am not kidding you; AA tune provides a quantum leap in performance, better than I expected, and throughout the power band. Something good seems to happen just above 4000 RPM and the power builds up to 6,500 RPM before leveling off. I rarely shifted above 5,500 RPM before these mods but the power and sound all the way to redline is so addicting that I find myself heading there every chance I get. The improvement is not just in the higher RPMs. The motor pulls much harder right off idle. Starting out with the clutch fully engaged under full throttle, the tires will break loose as you go over the slick crosswalk stripes, giving a little chirp. I think this 328i now pulls almost as hard as my son’s 1998 E36M3 (CA intake, AA exhaust, M50 manifold, 540i MAF, AA tune). Though I think he would still pull ahead of me with his 200+lb weight advantage. This car flat out rips and I couldn’t be happier.

The N52 motor is sadly the last in a long line of BMW's naturally aspirated inline sixes. There is something primal about the sound of these inherently balanced motors eagerly winding to their redline that stirs the soul. I can’t say enough about this overall package, it has really transformed my mild mannered 328i into a little beast. It is like a completely different vehicle to drive.

I am fortunate that I could do these upgrades all at once and the install sequence was one of convenience. If I had to prioritize the upgrades and wanted to focus only on performance I would do them in this order: 1. Euro Intake (with or w/o the K&N), 2. AA tune, then 3. The PE (not a performance upgrade IMO). Of these mods the most dramatic improvement was the AA tune.

My hat is off Andrew and the AA guys for developing a fantastic tune for the N52 motor. Next I need to give a shout out to Neal and Oceanside Motorsports for the great professional service with the install. And lastly thanks to everyone on this board for posting their opinions, it helped me make up my mind on what to do.

Cheers,
Eric

Last edited by Eric in SD; 08-30-2012 at 07:19 AM.
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      08-29-2012, 08:33 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric in SD View Post

The Euro Intake (sourced from ECS Tuning) went in first. Very easy install, less than an hour, a direct OEM replacement. There was a noticeable improvement in performance...
You lost me right about there. No way in hell you can tell the difference between a Euro intake vs. stock. No chance.
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      08-29-2012, 09:19 PM   #3
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Interesting. I can understand maybe a nice subtle improvement, no gain maybe 1hp placebo effect on the butt dyno for the PE? Euro box MAYBE what 3-4hp? AA tune 15hp? So maybe a 20hp gain total, But a quantum leap after the tune? Either way I'm glad you're happy with your mods. Happy driving..
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      08-30-2012, 12:09 AM   #4
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You didn't mention 3-stage intake manifold which from previous posted dyno results appears worthwhile. Any plans?
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      08-30-2012, 12:21 AM   #5
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Awesome write up. Thanks!
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      08-30-2012, 08:02 AM   #6
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Bottom line, the AA tune is worthwhile, even if you don't think it's "quantum"
I'm a intake skeptic myself, but if I were to sink any $$ into one, it would be the Euro box.

Thanks for the review, OP
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      08-30-2012, 10:33 PM   #7
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Thanks everyone for the feedback. 158 views in a little over 24 hours, man this board is high energy. Very cool!
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      08-30-2012, 10:47 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by benzo23 View Post
Interesting. I can understand maybe a nice subtle improvement, no gain maybe 1hp placebo effect on the butt dyno for the PE? Euro box MAYBE what 3-4hp? AA tune 15hp? So maybe a 20hp gain total, But a quantum leap after the tune? Either way I'm glad you're happy with your mods. Happy driving..
Benzo, your numbers are in the ballpark and consistent with my experience. Maybe quantum wasn't the best word to describe the change after the AA tune. I was thinking of the technical definition of quantum: a sudden step function or change in orbit from one energy level to a higher level. The expectation as I installed each modification was high, and after the PE install the performance change was disappointing. So I was elated/relieved that, at last, the AA tune came through with a noticeable transformation and got me to my goal of a better performing car.
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      08-30-2012, 11:04 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Light_Em_Up View Post
You didn't mention 3-stage intake manifold which from previous posted dyno results appears worthwhile. Any plans?
Yes, the 3-stage intake is an excellent next step. But not till my CPO warranty runs out. My wife's '08 X3 has the same N52 motor as the 128i/328i. The X3 3.0si is rated by BMW at 260 hp vs 230HP for our motor. Afaik the only difference is the X3 has the 3-stage intake. I have heard there is 10 more HP to get from this mod. Whether its 10 or 30 or something in between it seems worth doing and a fun DIY project.

I am still new to this board but I don't see much talk about CAMS. Back when I was modding the E36 and hanging on the Bimmerforums board this was considered the last/best mod, short of supercharging.
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      08-30-2012, 11:13 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mlifxs View Post
Bottom line, the AA tune is worthwhile, even if you don't think it's "quantum"
I'm a intake skeptic myself, but if I were to sink any $$ into one, it would be the Euro box.

Thanks for the review, OP
Thanks! Regarding the intake, it is subjective and the butt dyno is not very reliable. I like the OEM look, ease of maintenance, and just comparing the Euro with the stock intake, it seems like it has to be better. The stock intake box is just a lame design with the second "lifetime" carbon filter. Goes together with the "lifetime" fluids in our transmissions, eh? Another lame concept...
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      09-01-2012, 02:18 PM   #11
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Great post! I am stepping into the world of performance mods as well for my 2008 328xi. I can't decide whether an intake is even necessary with such a minimal gain...but I know that I will work on getting BMW PE and an AA tune as soon as I have room in my budget. Any recommendations on whether or not an intake would really be necessary and what brand?
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      09-02-2012, 09:49 AM   #12
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thanks for sharing , very interesting review, well written ...
i was checking AA website and found a software upgrade but nothing mentioned about "stages " .. so i was wondering is it the same one you have installed ? http://store.activeautowerke.com/act...ware-p124.aspx

i was wondering also if u can post us a video showing the modifications and the accelerations of the car ... that would be much more interesting
thanks in advance
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      09-02-2012, 10:14 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lsupwns View Post
Great post! I am stepping into the world of performance mods as well for my 2008 328xi. I can't decide whether an intake is even necessary with such a minimal gain...but I know that I will work on getting BMW PE and an AA tune as soon as I have room in my budget. Any recommendations on whether or not an intake would really be necessary and what brand?
search this forum for threads on intake as there are many
there is much debate on whether any meaningful power gain is possible.
there is some belief that cold air intakes (intakes not inside an enclosed box) actually lose power in the low end.
some people believe enclosed box intakes (like the Euro Air box) provide modest power gains.

if you're looking for sound effects, there is a new AFE enclosed box intake. Folks who have it say it makes nice sound without power loss (but, like the Euro Air box, it's not cheap).

Bottom line, if performance is the reason for asking, there's probably better places to spend money IMO. I've done the carbon delete with a K&N filter on the stock air box. Can't honestly claim a performance gain; maybe it's better. Gas mileage is better.
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      09-02-2012, 10:37 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lsupwns View Post
Great post! I am stepping into the world of performance mods as well for my 2008 328xi. I can't decide whether an intake is even necessary with such a minimal gain...but I know that I will work on getting BMW PE and an AA tune as soon as I have room in my budget. Any recommendations on whether or not an intake would really be necessary and what brand?
There are lots of opinions on this board regarding the value of after market or modified intakes. Like I said above I think it is worth doing, but it is expensive. Sometime when you have nothing better to do, take apart the stock intake box to see whats inside. I was surprised that there are actually two filters, only one of which is replaceable. That has got to be restrictive. The Euro Box http://www.ecstuning.com/BMW-E92-328...ake/ES2072577/is an OEM upgrade that uses the stock intake snorkel. I like the design. But it is hard on the budget. A much less expensive option for a similar improvement would be to do the carbon filter delete and get a K&N drop in.http://www.e90post.com/forums/showth...ock+intake+DIY

All that said, I think you would be very happy with just the AA tune and the PE to start with.
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      09-02-2012, 10:49 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aantar View Post
thanks for sharing , very interesting review, well written ...
i was checking AA website and found a software upgrade but nothing mentioned about "stages " .. so i was wondering is it the same one you have installed ? http://store.activeautowerke.com/act...ware-p124.aspx

i was wondering also if u can post us a video showing the modifications and the accelerations of the car ... that would be much more interesting
thanks in advance
aantar, yes that is the tune I have. AA website just shows a generic selection but they actually have many variations depending on your specific vehicle, the octane of fuel in your state, and your list of mods. For more info I suggest you set aside a hour and skim through this thread http://www.e90post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=634855. Then call Andrew on Tuesday. He is very approachable and easy to talk to.

Sorry, I don't do videos.
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      09-02-2012, 11:03 AM   #16
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Reading a bunch of threads on a message board does not make me an authority on a subject. My comments are just my opinions or me repeating what I have read from someone else. Searching and reading helped me decide what direction to go. And it was fun to share my subjective experience with the mods I went with.

What I have become pretty good at is searching and skimming to extract knowledge on a good message board, like this one. It is a fun diversion. There are a lot of smart people posting here.

I highly recommend the search function!
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      09-02-2012, 11:15 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric in SD View Post
There are lots of opinions on this board regarding the value of after market or modified intakes. Like I said above I think it is worth doing, but it is expensive. Sometime when you have nothing better to do, take apart the stock intake box to see whats inside. I was surprised that there are actually two filters, only one of which is replaceable. That has got to be restrictive. The Euro Box http://www.ecstuning.com/BMW-E92-328...ake/ES2072577/is an OEM upgrade that uses the stock intake snorkel. I like the design. But it is hard on the budget. A much less expensive option for a similar improvement would be to do the carbon filter delete and get a K&N drop in.http://www.e90post.com/forums/showth...ock+intake+DIY

All that said, I think you would be very happy with just the AA tune and the PE to start with.
Thanks for the advice and links! I'll take a few looks and delay all of these performance mods until I have enough cash saved up to bring it all together. I'm sick of researching but I guess it's important when you're changing the ultimate driving machine
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      09-02-2012, 11:18 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mlifxs View Post
search this forum for threads on intake as there are many
there is much debate on whether any meaningful power gain is possible.
there is some belief that cold air intakes (intakes not inside an enclosed box) actually lose power in the low end.
some people believe enclosed box intakes (like the Euro Air box) provide modest power gains.

if you're looking for sound effects, there is a new AFE enclosed box intake. Folks who have it say it makes nice sound without power loss (but, like the Euro Air box, it's not cheap).

Bottom line, if performance is the reason for asking, there's probably better places to spend money IMO. I've done the carbon delete with a K&N filter on the stock air box. Can't honestly claim a performance gain; maybe it's better. Gas mileage is better.
Interesting...I think if I get BMW PE the sound issue will be resolved. Unless I'm really convinced for some intake that truly makes an impact for the amount of money I put in, I should probably stick to the exhaust and tune and keep the extra cash.
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      09-02-2012, 11:24 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lsupwns View Post
Interesting...I think if I get BMW PE the sound issue will be resolved. Unless I'm really convinced for some intake that truly makes an impact for the amount of money I put in, I should probably stick to the exhaust and tune and keep the extra cash.
I like the PE idea, every sound clip I've heard is great. Decided to put my money into some minor suspension mod / upgrades for now.
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      09-02-2012, 10:07 PM   #20
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Nice throughout review... AA stage 2 will be my first performance mod.

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      09-13-2012, 07:04 PM   #21
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You should write a book!!!
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      09-14-2012, 07:05 AM   #22
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Nice write-up.

On the AA tune, I agree with your comments on the RPM points. Power starts to build around 3k and really takes off at 4k-6.5k.

You may also want to check to see if you have an SULEV car. I was surpised to find out that I actually had an N51 with the 3-stage intake. The engine seems to react the same as an N52 even though it has a slightly lower compression ratio.
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