BMW 1 Series Mods & Tuning

"Making the ultimate drivers car even better!"

We look at 1 series model tuning and point out the ultimate modifications. BMW 1 series models are popular cars and with a few sensible sports modifications, you can assuredly enhance your driving enjoyment.

Famed for its great handling, superb range of engines and very smart styling the 1 series forms the basis of many great car tuning projects.

There are few factory cars that are as well equipped for a track day out there, but most 1 series models can hold their own on a track day, due in part to the light body, and great chassis design.

You can tune a 1 series easily with remaps, turbo upgrades and a variety of aftermarket mods and upgrades which we'll cover in this article.

Many people get confused at the version numbers offered in the 1 series range, so we've pulled together all of the model designations and years here for reference, and noted significant changes to the 1 series over the years.

We have seen some awesome 1 series model tuning projects and there seems to be quite a loyal fan base of 1 series model owners. Plan ahead and research 1 series tuning to spare yourself making the usual costly slip ups we often come across.

Tuning tips and articles

Engine tuning Transmission tuning Care care Intake & exhaust mods Improve handling Forums

 

Improving the handling for loads of people first priority in your BMW 1 series tuning project. We suggest that you fit performance suspension and lower the car by 30-35mm. Larger drops require arch work - especially on models already equipped with a performance suspension.

We have some more detailed tuning guides, it seemed sensible to go into more detail about 1 series mods and upgrades in these break off articles.

The 1 series is the smallest and most affordable vehicle in the BMW range released in 2004, the rear wheel drive configuration was unusual in a car in this class and that won it many fans. When launched the 1 series comprise around 20% of BMW's total car sales. Read our E81 buyers guide

1 Series Engine Tuning Mods.

These are the modified upgrades are usually carried out by our members, decide how far you wish to go in your tuning project before you begin.

Getting the correct grade of modified parts for your planned usage of the car is vital. Stage 3 (competition) mods just don't work well on the road difficult in stop start traffic.

Please watch our video which covers the 5 principles of tuning your car. Be sure to subscribe and support our new channel.

Best mods for your 1 series

  1. Braking Mods - Improve your ability to stop needs to be listed in your priority list.
  2. Lightened Flywheels - a reduced weight flywheel will significantly improve the engines ability to rev freely. Not always recommended for all 1 series engines.
  3. Upgrades to turbochargers and superchargers - forced induction is the most significant way to increase air supply, ensuring you are able to use more fuel and make more power. Typically one of the most technically difficult mods it offers big gains.
  4. 1 series Suspension Tuning - Upgrading your suspension dramatically improves 1 series handling Adjustable coilovers and better bushings are what is needed here.
  5. Intake Mods and Exhaust - NB: on their own these mods won't ADD TORQUE , but they permit you to enhance power after other mods by removing the restriction.
  6. Flowing and porting the Head - Head work will get air flowing into the engine while removing turbulence or restrictions.
  7. Fast road Camshafts are significant power adders, but TorqueCars recommend they be setup by someone familiar with setting them up on your car and some cams are hard to find but we are sure you'l; find a local firm to regrind a stock cam for you.
  8. ECU Tunes - A remap gives the most power for your outlay, replacement ECUs, and piggyback ECUs are all alternatives.

1 series Tuning Stages

Typical stage 1 mods often include: Alloy wheels, Remap, Suspension upgrade (drop 30-40mm), Lighter flywheel, Sports exhaust, Panel air filter.

Typical stage 2 mods often include: Power/Sport clutch, high flow fuel injector, Ported and polished head, fuel pump upgrades, Fast road cam.

Typical stage 3 mods often include: Engine balancing, Adding or upgrading forced induction (turbo/supercharger), Internal engine upgrades (pistons/head/valves), Competition cam, Sports gearbox.

Your aims when modding your car should be a wide torque curve. You want to avoid sending all the torque to be at the top end of the rev range unless you are creating a competition car.

The whole aim of our articles is to give a brief overview of car tuning performance parts and point you in the right direction, our forum is where you can ask for more detailed advice and tips on your modified car project, the best Motorsport modifications and all aspects of modding cars.

One of the biggest mechanical upgrades you can do to your 1 series NASP engine is to fit a fast road camshaft .

It improves the intake and exhaust durations and pushes up the power if done right. Ideally you'd add other mods and finish up with a remap. We'd also caution you not to go with a motor sport grade profile cam as this affects the engines idling and general town driving characteristics. Just stick with a mild fast road cam and you'll be fine. You will need to ensure that the engine is not starved of fuel so will need to look at the fuelling.

On the turbo engine a remap/piggy back ECU are the best and most cost effective mods you can do.

Frequently power losses, flat spots and erratic idling after sports upgrades are done can usually be traced to fuelling or timing issues. Uprated injectors will enable you to supply sufficient fuel to the engine. If you've uprated your fuelling with bigger injectors you will also need to get a bigger fuel pump to supply it.

Intake and Exhaust Tuning.

Breathing mods are usually next up. Derestricting the air feed into the engine is the primary part of performance tuning so get a better flowing air filter if you find that the car is running lean only if you find the car is running lean. Induction kits can sound sporty but due to the warm air in the engine bay they will not do much to increase power and more often than not rob you of power on most cars.

Sports exhausts will certainly help air flow out of the engine but do not go too wide or you could very well end up with a reduced flow rate. So generally speaking, keep to 1.5 to 2.0 inches as a rule of thumb.

Head work including a polish and port and 3 or 5 angle valve job will really help to release the potential of the engine. In nearly all cases of 1 series model tuning your clutch will start to slip and this needs an upgrade - read our overview on clutches for more information. Turbo engines are just pleading to be remapped. You will see significant power gains on most modern turbo charged cars including diesels making a remap one of the most cost effective and significant modifications for your money.

We've also seen some tuners toying with twincharging applications and making some seriously high power hikes.

The most phenomenal power gains for NASP engines usually involve the addition of forced induction. Superchargers are usually easier to add than turbos. It is difficult to map fuelling with a turbo as the boost builds exponentially with rpm.

Superchargers however will give a boost which is directly proportional to engine speed so is simpler. Alternatively you could perhaps fit water injection to cut down knock.

Alloy Wheel & Handling Upgrades.

Handling upgrades are often the initial step for the 1 series.

We would choose a set of Good Quality coilovers that enable set a ride hight to adjust your handling to suit your needs

Is there anything I should keep in mind while deciding on suspension mods for my 1 series?

Adding some negative camber to the front & rear wheels will help handling and cornering improve and reduce the understeer you get on this chassis. It only needs between 0.5 and 0.8 on the fronts, and 1.5-1.85 on the rear to hit the optimum setup.

Improvements to the bushings

Enhancements to the bushings: Things you need to know

The suspension components of the 1 series may be fixed to the car's chassis through bushings, which are rotatable rubber mounts. These rubber ones will start to fail with time.

Installing new OEM rubber bushes may dramatically improve the performance of your car.

Because the polyurethane bushes are firmer, the ride may be a bit more harsh, but they will last longer and maintain the handling.

Increased vibration and play may also quicken the stress in other suspension components.

With a new set of poly bushes, the excessive play associated with rubber bushes may be mitigated.

You may struggle to find a full set of poly bushings, but most regions have the primary mounts available. You may be able to have custom poly bushings created to suit your needs.

A frequent misconception is that the best setup would be a non-adjustable suspension system that lowers the vehicle by 90mm purchased from a franchised component shop.

Vendors may claim that their 1 series suspension kits are compatible with any or all model year 1 seriess.

The 'one size fits all' approach is obviously a flawed assumption when it comes to adequately supporting a diverse variety of cars. Engine weights and trim levels, and even alloy rims will affect the handling and require different suspension setups.

How low should you go on the 1 series?

When it comes to road vehicles, the maximum suspension drop is 25 - 38 mm, but when it comes to cars that are factory fitted with lowered springs, the maximum suspension drop is 18 mm, according to TorqueCars.

Tolerances may be greatly reduced by altering the diameter of the wheels. Lowering a vehicle, even with 17-inch wheels and stock suspension, will create several problems.

Because the 1 series is lower, less air travels under it, which may aid in stability; nonetheless, the main goal should always be to enhance handling. It is critical to use the proper shocks when employing lower springs buying matched components as a kit.

If you set the toe out to 1 to 2 degrees on the front, and add slight negative camber then cornering will substantially be enhanced.

1 Series Brake Upgrades

Fitting better brake discs and better high friction brake pads will make for sharper enhanced stopping.

As a word of warning please note that some performance brake pads can be noisier and will have to be hot before they bite.

On a road car the brakes are only used rarely so will not be effective so specify friction pads which work well in daily use.

1 Series Alloy Wheels

The benefits of alloys include reducing your unsprung weight and more efficient brake cooling via the extra air flow they allow. Large 1 series model alloy wheels can decrease performance. If you get big alloy wheels you will be changing your final drive ratio and will be more prone to tram lining. 19's seem to be the optimum large size for the 1 series but the 18's handle much better and make our pick for most 1 series.

Due to this fact try to keep the overall rolling diameter of the wheel your OEM settings. In all cases not going over 16 inches.

If you would like to know more, or just get some friendly advice on Tuning your car please join us in our friendly forum where you can discuss 1 series model options in more detail with our 1 series model owners. It would also be worth reading our unbiased BMW tuning articles to get a full grasp of the benefits and drawbacks of each modification.

BMW 1 Series Model Specs, Engines and Power Outputs

First Generation (E81/E82/E87/E88 2004–2011)

  1. E81: 3 door hatchback
  2. E82: 2 door coupe
  3. E87: 5 door hatchback
  4. E88: Convertible

Gasolene:

Diesel- turbocharged:

116i

  • 2004–2011 1.6 L N45 4cyl 114 hp 150Nm 111lbft
  • 2007-2011 1.6 L N434cyl 121 hp 160Nm 118lbft
  • 2009-2011 2.0 L N43 4cyl 121 hp 185Nm 136lbft

118i

  • 2005–2007 2.0 L N46 4cyl 127 hp 180Nm 133lbft
  • 2007–2009 2.0 L N43 4cyl 141 hp 190Nm 140lbft
  • 2009-2011 2.0 L N43 4cyl 121 hp 185Nm 136lbft

120i

  • 2004–2007 2.0 L N46 4cyl 110 kW 148 hp 200 N⋅m 148 lb⋅ft
  • 2007–2011 2.0 L N43 4cyl 168 hp 210Nm 155lbft

125i

  • 2007–2010  3.0 L N52 6cyl 215 hp 270Nm 199lbft

128i

  • 2008-2013 3.0 L N52 6cyl 228 hp 271Nm 200lbft

130i

  • 2007–2009 3.0 L N52 6cyl 261 hp 315Nm 232lbft
    2009–2013 3.0 L N52 6cyl 255 hp  310Nm 229lbft

135i

  • 2007–2010 3.0 L N54 6cyl turbo 302 hp 400Nm 295lbft
  • 2010–2013 3.0 L N55 6cyl turbo 320 hp 430Nm 317lbft

135is

  • 2013 3.0 L N55 6cyl turbo 320 hp 430Nm 317lbft

1M Coupe

  • 2011–2012 3.0 L N54 6cyl turbo 335 hp 450 N⋅m 332 lbft

116d

  • 2009–2011 2.0 L N47 4cyl turbo 114 hp 260Nm 192lbft

118d

  • 2004–2007 2.0 L M47 4cyl turbo 121 hp 280Nm 207lbft
  • 2007–2013 2.0 L N47 4cyl turbo 141 hp 300Nm 221lbft

120d

  • 2004–2007 2.0 L M47 4cyl turbo 164 hp 340Nm 251lbft
  • 2007–2013 2.0 L N47 4cyl turbo 174 hp 350Nm 258lbft

123d

  • 2007–2013 2.0 L N47 4cyl turbo 201 hp 400 Nm 295 lbft

Second Generation (F20/F21 2011–2019)

Available as 3 or 5 door versions, thankfully the rear-wheel drive was retained we all see an xdrive all wheel drive version on this year.

The F20 received a facelift in 2015 and was offered in 13 gasoline and 10 diesel variants.

Gasolene:

Diesel:

Gasolene engine specs

114i

  • 101hp @4000rpm 180Nm 133lbft @1100-3900rpm
    2012-2015 1.6 L N13 4cyl

116i

  • 134hp @4400-6450rpm 220Nm 162lbft @1350-4300rpm
    2012-2015 1.6 L N13 4cyl
  • 107hp @4500-6000rpm 180Nm 133lbft @1250-3900rpm
    2015-2019 1.5 L B38 inline-3

118i

  • 168hp @4800-6450rpm 250Nm 184lbft @1500-4500rpm
    2012-2015 1.6 L N13 4cyl
  • 134hp @4000-6000rpm220Nm 162lbft @1250-4000rpm
    2015-2019 1.5 L B38 inline-3

120i

  • 130 kW 174hp @4800-6450rpm 250Nm 184 lb⋅ft@1350-4500rpm
    2012-2015 1.6 L N13 4cyl
  • 181hp @5000rpm 290Nm 214lbft @1350-4250rpm
    2016-2019 2.0 L B48 4cyl

125i

  • 215hp @5000rpm 310Nm 229lbft @1350-4800rpm
    2012-2015 2.0 L N20 4cyl
  • 221hp @5200rpm 310Nm 229lbft @1400-5000rpm
    2016-2019 2.0 L B48 4cyl

M135i

  • 315hp @5800-6400rpm 450Nm 332lbft @1300-4500rpm
    2012-2015 3.0 L N55 6cyl
  • 322hp @5800-6400rpm 450Nm 332lbft @1300-4500rpm
    2015-2016 3.0 L N55 6cyl

M140i

  • 250 kW 335hp @5500rpm 500 N⋅m 369 lb⋅ft@1520-4500rpm
    2016-2019 3.0 L B58 6cyl

Diesel

114d

  • 94hp @4000rpm 235Nm 173lbft @1500-2750rpm
    2012-2015 1.6 L N47 4cyl
  • 95hp @4000rpm 240Nm 177lbft @1500-2750rpm
    2015-2019 1.5 L B37 inline-3

116d

  • 114hp @4000rpm 260Nm 192lbft @1750-2500rpm
    2011-2015 2.0 L N47 4cyl
  • 114hp @4000rpm 260Nm 192lbft @1750-2500rpm
    2012-2015 1.6 L N47 4cyl
  • 114hp @4000rpm 270Nm 199lbft @1750-2250rpm
    2015-2019 1.5 L B37 inline-3

118d

  • 141hp @4000rpm 320Nm 236lbft @1750-2500rpm
    2011-2015 2.0 L N47 4cyl
  • 150hp @4000rpm 350Nm 258lbft @1750-2500rpm
    2015-2019 2.0 L B47 4cyl

120d

  • 181hp @4000rpm 380Nm 280lbft @1750-2750rpm
    2011-2015 2.0 L N47 4cyl
  • 188hp @4000rpm 400Nm 295lbft @1750-2500rpm
    2015-2019 2.0 L B47 4cyl

125d

  • 215hp @4400rpm 450Nm 332lbft @1500-2500rpm
    2012-2015 2.0 L N47 4cyl
  • 221hp @4400rpm 450Nm 332lbft @1500-3000rpm
    2015-2019 2.0 L B47 4cyl

Turning our attention to the 1 series models engine we need to get a bit more power out of the top end.

With our hints your 1 series model can be transformed into a track car and yet still reliable daily driver.

The best power gains come from larger engine sizes. The more you start with the bigger the return on investment so engine swaps are good value mods for small engined cars.

BMW 1 series problems and issues

Traction control (DTC ) Warning light comes on, which usually means the traction control unit needs replacing.

Coil pack issues are quite common, and the fault identifies itself as rough running, a petrol smell inside the car in some cases and erratic engine temperature. You can also experience engine vibration, loss of power or end up in limp home mode. Replacing the coil pack will rectify the fault.

Idling from a cold start can be an issue, if this is the case make sure the ECU is updated to the latest version which should address this issue in the software.

The N47 engine had an issue with timing chains, so if it starts making a grinding noise get it checked out ASAP or you'll need to replace the engine. We would recommend that you get the timing chain checked at your next service as a precaution.

Random warning lights on the dashboard flashing on and off. Check the PDC unit in the boot is dry and that the filters in the wheel wells have been fitted the correct way up. A damp PDC will fire off all kinds of warning lights.

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