The BMW E46 3-Series was first introduced in Europe in 1998 and in the US in 1999 with the E46 323i and E46 328i. The E46 model range was expanded in 2000 with the E46 328Ci and E46 323Ci coupes and convertibles. The E46 continued to grow in 2001 in the US market with the E46 325i, E46 325Ci, E46 330i and E46 330Ci models. Despite great engineering feats aimed at producing a well-performing BMW 3 Series ex factory, there are many modifications to the E46 available to improve acceleration, handling, aerodynamics and more.
E46 performance modifications
The BMW E46 3-Series has a well-tuned inline 6 engine from the factory that can benefit greatly from improvements to the intake system, software tuning for BMW, the exhaust system, and even superchargers.
aFe Power produces high performance cold air intake systems for the E46, including the E46 330i, E46 325i and E46 M3 models. The AFE cold air intake system provides better flow and performance over the original air box, which is designed to reduce noise and emissions. Additionally, you can choose between the aFe Pro 5R or aFe Pro Dy S filter elements for better flow and performance over BMW’s factory paper air filter.
Active Autowerke’s ECU tuning upgrade will maximize the power gains from other modifications by adjusting air: fuel ratios and other parameters for truly customized BMW ECU tuning. These are geared towards series vehicles as well as the modified E46 3 series to ensure the software is custom produced for your specific application. Also, you can do the Shark Software fit for the E46, which is a simpler upgrade that doesn’t produce as much power, but is still a substantial improvement over the stock.
The BMW exhaust system is very good ex factory, but also quiet and restrictive. Aftermarket exhausts for the E46 3 series are available in the likes of Remus exhausts for BMW, Active Autowerke E46 exhausts, Eisenmann BMW exhausts and much more. These systems vary in sound and cost, but all will improve flow and performance, a must for any E46 3 series with cold air intake.
E46 suspension modifications
The E46 suspension is good for a factory system, but can be vastly improved with springs, springs, and shocks or coilovers. H&R sport springs for the E46 are a great alternative to factory springs that will improve handling and lower the car without being too aggressive for street use. If you are looking for a complete suspension upgrade for the E46, then it is best to get a replacement spring and damper, such as the Koni FSD / Eibach Pro Kit or the H&R Cup Kit. These are performance enhancing combined shock and spring combos. and they lower the car.
Coilovers for BMW are the latest update for your E46 3 series. These adjustable suspension systems allow you to dial in ride height and in some cases, like the KW V2 and BIlstein PSS10, you can adjust the rebound and compression settings.
Exterior parts E46
The E46 3 series is well designed, but can benefit from upgraded bumpers like the M3 bumper for the E46 3 series. Also, you can make the M Tech II bumper for the E46 to change the look to a more aggressive configuration. The matte black E46 grills are also a popular upgrade to give the car a more aggressive look.
The Vorsteiner CSL trunk is a popular upgrade for coupes that reduces weight and improves downforce for maximum stability at high speeds. The RD Sport E46 line of spare parts includes fenders, a front bumper and a tornado rear bumper for the E46. Finally, the M3 lip spoiler is a popular upgrade to the stock E46 trunk that provides a clean look.
Interior parts E46
The interior of the E46 is one of ergonomic perfection, but can be tailored to your needs with custom alcantara shift boots and carbon fiber shift knobs. You can also change the lighting to LED interior lights with the Bimmian interior xenon kit for the E46.
Many E46 models do not come with xenon headlights from the factory, so you can swap them out with the Projector46 headlights. These are complete projector headlight replacements with LED angel eyes for a complete setup with no plug and play errors.
If you want to add angel eyes to your E46, you can make WeissLicht LED angel eyes, which directly fit E46 halogen or E46 xenon factory headlights. Finally, you can make LED turn signals and LED license plate lights for E46 to change the exterior to a xenon white look.