BMW E70 Tuning

"All you need to know about tuning the BMW E70!"

The second generation of BMW’s luxury SUV, the X5, was dubbed E70 by aficionados. This was the first time that BMW in its entire history introduced a seven-seater SUV.

The E70 was a huge improvement over its successor E53 and unlike the previous generation X5, it had a unique platform.

The overall dimensions of the E70 were larger than those of the E53 which allowed BMW to offer more cabin space to passengers.

A site visitor recently commented asking for more information on the E70 and how to tune it up and modify it, so we've created this how-to guide to take you through what we feel are the main modifications that we rate and are the greatest modifications you can do to this engine.

The BMW E70 X5 makes a good tuning project and with a few sensible tuning modifications like ECU maps, turbo kits and camshafts you will dramatically maximise your driving pleasure.

In this article we examine the options for your E70 tuning and show the premier mods that work.

History of the E70

2007 to 2009

During these years, the E70 was offered in two gasoline and two diesel variants.

Gasoline Variants

The base model 3.0SI came with a 6-speed automatic transmission. The engine produced 272 hp and 232 lb-ft of torque.

The upper-end variant was the 4.8i with 6-speed automatic transmission. This model had much better performance due to its impressive figures of 355 hp and 350 lb-ft.

Diesel Variant

The base diesel variant was the 3.0d that was coupled to a 6-speed automatic transmission. The engine produced 235hp and 384 lb-ft.

The top tier diesel variant was the 3.0L SD with a 6-speed automatic transmission and this engine generated much higher power and torque figures of 286 hp and 428 lb-ft.

It is worth noting that all the vehicles had all-wheel-drive technology to ensure smooth power delivery to the wheels. However, the fact that no manual variant was offered was not well appreciated by some markets.

2010 to 2014

After the facelift, newer engines were introduced for the E70. Now two gasoline and four diesel variants were available.

Gasoline Variants

The base gasoline variant was the xDrive35i with 8-speed automatic transmission.

This engine produced a total of 306 hp and 295 lb-ft.

The upper-end variant was the xDrive50i which also had an 8-speed automatic transmission. Higher performance figures of 408 hp and 442 lb-ft made it a more compelling option.

Diesel Variants

The diesel variants of the vehicle were as following:

  • xDrive30d with 245 hp and 398 lb-ft;
  • xDrive35d with 265 hp and 425 lb-ft;
  •  xDrive40d with 306 hp and 442 lb-ft;
  • xDriveM50d with 375 hp and 546 lb-ft;

All these models other than the xDrive35d had 8-speed automatic
transmissions.

Tuning the BMW E70 and best E70 performance parts.

Best E70 mods

Just because particular parts are common on E70 it doesn't mean you should fit it, instead, we'll focus on the top parts that will give your E70 the best power gain for your money.

If you are looking to modify your BMW E70, here are a few performance
modifications that you must consider.

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 E70

  1. E70 Suspension Upgrades - Replacing worn bushings and shocks dramatically improves E70 handling Coilovers and Bushings are the usual go to mods
  2. Flywheel lightening - a lower weight flwheel will improve the engines free revving nature. But not always stuitable for all E70 engines.
  3. Forced induction upgrades - Adding a turbocharger is the most efficient approach to improve intake air supply, this means you are able to burn more fuel and make higher power. Typically one of the most expensive upgrades you'll see massive gains.
  4. Air Induction and Exhaust Upgrades - Note that on their own these mods will NOT ADD POWER , but they can help release power after other mods by losing a restriction.
  5. Intercooler upgrades - these will allow you to enjoy your full power for longer, as it will resist heat soak and reduce the air intake temps to allow more fuel to burn.
  6. Brake Mods - Improve your ability to stop should be high on your agenda.
  7. Internal engine mods - crank, pistons, conrods & compression ratio including balancing and blueprinting
  8. Mapping - A remap gives the most advantage compared to cost, aftermarket ECUs, and inline Tuning boxes are all alternatives.
  9. Fast road cams are generally the biggest mechanical mod upgrade, but they must be setup by someone who knows what they are doing and tracking one down can be a challenge but there might be a local firm to regrind a stock camshaft .

E70 Tuning Stages

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

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

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

E70 Suspension Mods & Upgrades

Suspension determines how a vehicle handles, so upgrading it is a great way to improve performance.

What considerations must you make when setting up and selecting your suspension if your E70 serves as a daily car as well?

Improvements to the bushings

Bushing improvements are needed so what's involved?

Bushes, which are rubber mounts, allow the E70's suspension components to be fixed to the car's chassis. The rubber ones will deteriorate over time.

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

Because polyurethane bushes are stiffer, the ride may be rougher, but the bushes will last longer and maintain the car's handling over a longer time.

Worn bushes may also accelerate the decay of other suspension components due to the increased vibration and play.

A new set of poly bushings may be able to lessen the excessive play that comes with rubber bushes.

You may struggle to find a full set of polyeyurothane bushes, but most regions have the primary mounts available. Custom polyeyurothane bushings are often made to your requirements.

Many people believe that a 70mm lower E70 suspension kit from a franchised component shop would be ideal. However, this is not the case - suspension design and setup is quite complex.

Vendors may assert that their E70 suspension kits are compatible with any or all of the E70 model years.

The 'compromized' 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 E70?

TorqueCars research and testing indicate that the maximum suspension drop for most road vehicles is 23 - 38 millimetres, whereas the maximum suspension drop for cars that are factory fitted with lowered springs is 21 millimetres.

These tolerances may be drastically lowered if the wheel size is changed. Even with 16 or 17-inch wheels and conventional suspension, lowering the vehicle may create a a slew of new complications.

While the fact that the E70 being lower allows for less air to travel underneath it may aid in stability, the ultimate goal should always be to enhance handling. When lowering the springs, it is critical to use the proper shocks that match all round.

Setting some negative camber on the wheels and a few degrees of toe (in for better stability or out to improve cornering), will greatly improve your E70 in handling and cornering.

Fitting bigger discs and better quality pads will make for dramatically improved stopping.

We should point out that race brake pads will be noisy and will need to be really hot before they bite.

In every day driving the brakes are only used rarely so won't be all that effective so choose friction pads which have a low working temperature.

Lowering Springs

Lowering your car is a good way to improve handling. There are several lowering springs on the market, but those from H&R are particularly impressive.

The H&R Sport Spring Set with self-leveling provides front lowering of up to 2” whereas they offer rear lowering of up to 1”.

E70 Suspension Kits

Investing in a suspension kit is another effective way to achieve a great look and high-end performance.

The Bilstein B12 Pro Suspension Kit offers a wide array of benefits that include improved handling, much better response than the stock parts and up to 40mm lowering ability for the front and 25mm for the rear.

Such high-end parts will set you back around $1300.

E70 Coilover Kits

Coilover kits, such as the BC Racing Coilover kit for the BMW E70, feature rubber top mounts on both the front and rear ends to ensure a smooth driving experience at any speed.

They are designed to absorb hard impacts effectively to offer a remarkably comfortable experience to the drivers.

So if you are also looking for a similar experience, try one of the Coilover kits from a high-end brand.

E70 Shock Absorbers

Shock absorbers, as their name gives away, are intended to absorb shocks for providing a comfortable ride.

The B8 Performance Plus Shock Absorbers, costing around $240 each, is a premium quality part.

However, it is worth noting that these parts can only be used on vehicles without self-leveling suspension and EDC.

Heavy Duty Shocks for the E70

Parts like the Bilstein Heavy Duty Shocks come in handy because they are approximately 20% firmer than the factory fitted parts.

As a result, they improve handling and reduce body roll in your BMW E70.

E70 Camshaft Upgrades

Performance camshafts raise the higher RPM power and are better suited on petrol engines, than diesels. You will usually get a top end power hikes through performance camshafts on most engines

The cam profile plays a big part in the engines power output so cam upgrades make quite a large difference. The intake & exhaust durations will alter depending on the chosen cam profile, so large engines power gains are on offer for cam upgrades.

Fast road camshafts commonly raise the performance through the rev range, you might lose a little bottom-end power but top end will improve.

Race camshafts, raise the top end band but as a result, the car will not idle smoothly and low end power nearly always suffers.

On a car driven daily you'll need to match your bhp range to your driving style.

I'd never find a E70 Motorsport cam is a delight when driving in heavy traffic. This is because a competition cams causes very lumpy idle, and makes the car more prone to stall or jerk along in stop start traffic, sadly though many ignore this and end up spoiling a perfectly good car and having to revert back to a fast road, or OEM cam profile.

Each engine responds differently due to the head and flow characteristics when cams are fitted depending on the cam being less aggressive cam durations so view each engine and camshaft as unique due to manufacturing tolerances and quality variations so set your engine up on a rolling road.

The ECU mapping and fuel delivery and fuel pump and injectors also will make differences on the torque gains you'll achieve.

A longer valve duration can amend the torque band, and on most engines there are some advantages to extending the intake or exhaust durations and valve lift.

Typical stage 1 mods often include: Sports exhaust header/manifold, Remaps/piggy back ECU, Fast road camshaft, Panel air filters, Intake manifolds, Drilled & smoothed airbox.

Typical stage 2 mods often include: fuel pump upgrades, induction kit, Ported and polished head, Sports catalyst & performance exhaust, high flow fuel injectors, Fast road cam.

Typical stage 3 mods often include: Internal engine upgrades (head flowing porting/bigger valves), Competition cam, Crank and Piston upgrades to alter compression, Adding or Upgrading forced induction (turbo/supercharger), Engine balancing & blueprinting, Twin charging conversions.

Plan your options and then source your parts and set yourself a power target to avoid wasting your time and money.

ECU Mapping Improvements for the E70 X5

A remap allows a tuner to unlock the full potential of all the parts you've done to your E70.

What is ECU Remapping

ECU remapping is the process of flashing the engine control unit’s software and replacing it with new files.

The process of remapping is particularly impressive because it makes use of the stock ECU so there’s no need of installing a new part or an add-on.

However, not everyone is good at ECU remapping, therefore, it is vital to get your vehicle’s ECU remapped by someone who knows what he is doing.

One example of ECU remapping is Celtic Tuning. They, similar to many other service providers, offer various packages and stages.

The Economy Mode increases the power by 43 hp and the torque by 34 lb-ft.

The Stage 1 remapping is where things get really serious as in this mode, the power is increased by a total of 73 hp and torque is increased by 57 lb-ft.

If remapping doesn’t solve your needs, you will need ECU upgrades.

Types Of ECU

There are two types of ECUs

  • Standalones;
  • Piggybacks.

Standalone ECUs

These ECUs offer a higher level of control to vehicle owners. These are separate units that replace the factory fitted parts.

The size of these ECUs is normally the same as the stock ECUs but can differ in some cases.

Piggybacks

These are small add-ons that work in unison with the stock ECUs but offer a few additional features.

They provide performance increase but are usually much limited when compared to a standalone ECU.

Pros & Cons

Let’s discuss the pros and cons of both ECUs, which will help you determine which is the better option for your E70.

Pros Of Standalone ECUs

  • Can be finely tuned to meet an engine’s specific requirements;
  • More versatility;
  • Higher-level adjustment options.

Cons Of Standalone ECUs

  • Several OEM features are affected;
  • Stock ECU becomes redundant;
  • Expensive than piggybacks;
  • Can be bigger, so fitting them is not always possible.

Pros Of Piggyback ECUs

  • Small in size so can be easily fit;
  • Cheaper than standalone ECUs;
  •  OEM features are not compromised;
  •  The stock ECU doesn’t need to be replaced.

Cons Of Piggybacks ECUs

  • Performance is limited as compared to standalone ECUs.

Which Is Better?

You are the best judge. If you want more control and higher performance, go for the standalone ECU for your E70.

However, if you feel that you just need minor tweaking while keeping all the OEM functions intact, go for the piggyback.

Sprint Booster V3

The Sprint Booster V3 is a great option for all BMW vehicles. It is a highly effective component that alters the acceleration signals and thus results in a considerable performance boost at a reasonable price of around $270.

The Sprint Booster V3's best feature is its Plug & Play nature, which means you can simply buy one and install it on your E70 without having to cut any wires or undergo any major modifications.

It will usually give around 30% more power on turbocharged vehicles and you can expect to see around 15% on NA (naturally aspirated) engines, but your results will differs on the parts you've applied and the condition of your engine.

Air Flow improvements on the E70

It is vital to any engine tuning task to force air into your E70 and the aim is remove any restriction, which will typically appear after heavy tuning is applied.

Air Intake manifolds carry the air during the suck phase from the air filter and allow it to be sucked into the engine cylinders.

Air Intake Upgrades

Upgrading an air intake system is the most vital part of any car modification. It is usually the first area where most vehicle owners focus.

An air intake system improves the air gulping capacity of the vehicle as compared to the stock setup.

Improved airflow means that your E70 will be able to get a higher mixture of fuel and air which will increase the combustion rate. Thus the vehicle will be able to produce more power and torque than normal.

The aFe Power Magnum Force Stage-2 Si Cold Air Intake System that costs around $500 is a great option for increasing the power of your E70 by 24 hp.

Besides this, the torque also increases by 51 lb-ft.

This impressive gain results in a drastic performance boost that completely justifies its relatively high price.

Performance Air Filters

Performance air filters are another way to improve airflow to the engine. These parts are specifically designed with a less obstructive design. Thus they allow more air to pass through.

The above mentioned cold air intake system from aFe comes with the 5R air filter which is a great option.

Important Note: It is vital to first ensure that the part you choose specifically fits your BMW E70’s variant.

For example, while the aFe Power Magnum Force Stage-2 Si Cold Air Intake System works with xDrive35i, it won’t fit the xDrive35d.

Larger valve conversions on the E70, doing a bit of 3 or 5 angle valve jobs and porting and head flowing will also increase bhp, and as an added benefit will give you increasing the bhp increase on other mods.

E70 Turbo upgrades

The more air you can get into an engine, the more fuel it can burn and uprating the turbocharger makes massive power gains.

If your motor is fitted with a turbocharger upgrades are relatively easy and we find turbocharged engines use better components.

There are weak spots for every engine, with some being over specified and some only just able to handle stock power. It is important to find these restrictions and install better quality components to handle the power.

It's not unheard of mechanics spending a lot of money on turbo upgrades on the E70 only to suffer the indignity of watching the engine explode just after it's first rolling road session.

Bigger capacity turbochargers often experience a bottom end lag, and low capacity turbochargers spool up much more quickly but don't have the peak end power band gains.

Thanks to progress the market of turbochargers is always evolving and we are seeing variable vane turbochargers, allowing the vane profile is altered according to speed to lower lag and increase top end bhp and torque.

Twin scroll turbochargers divert the exhaust flow into two channels and direct these at differently designed vanes in the turbocharger. They also boost the scavenging effect of the engine.

It is common that there's a limitation in the air flow sensor (AFM/MAF/MAP) on the E70 when a lot more air is being drawn into the engine.

You'll see that 4 bar air sensors coping with quite large power gains, whereas the OEM air sensor limited bhp at a much lower level.

Intercooler Upgrades For the X5 E70

The Wagner Tuning Competition Intercooler Kit is particularly useful for the BMW E70 because it offers a 113% larger area for the air and an overall 120% higher volume as compared to the OEM part.

This means that the intercooler from Wagner Tuning offers extra dense cold air to the engine which results in high performance.

Such components are designed in a way that they overcome the bottlenecks that the stock parts have.

E70 Fuelling Upgrades

When you lift the torque you will need to pay attention to to the fuel system.

More torque needs more fuel. Performance fuel pressure regulators can offer improved throttle response.Most tuners we speak with say to over specify your flow rate on the injectors.

The accepted safe increase is to add 20% when specifying an injector, this takes into account injector deterioration and allows a bit of spare capacity should the engine require more fuel.

We think this one is common sense, but you'll need to match your fuel injector to the type of fuel your car uses as well.

E70 Performance Exhausts

You may need to increase your exhaust if your exhaust is creating a flow problem.

On most factory exhausts you should find that the exhaust flow rate is still good even on modest power gains, but when you start pushing up the power levels you will need to get a better flowing exhaust.

Performance exhausts are one of the major upgrade options that most vehicle owners looking for higher performance choose.

The reason for choosing a high-end performance exhaust system is that it prevents backfiring.

It also provides the ability to expel a larger amount of exhaust engine gases because otherwise this hot air would increase the engine’s temperature and prevent it from performing well.

Performance exhausts are also popular because of their aggressive sound. Fans of such vehicles are frequently given the option of selecting the decibel level that they believe best suits the character of their vehicles.

Supersprint Performance Exhaust System is one of the best options available in the market for your E70. However, this part costs over $3000.

Sports exhausts generally help improve air flow from the engine but avoid an exhaust that is too large or you may end up stuff up the flow rate. Keep to around 1.5 to 2.5 inches as a rule of thumb.

For road going cars mods such as a sports catalyst pretty much remove this restriction, thanks to it's larger size and surface area, and will effectively raise the performance to levels you would expect without having a catalyst installed, but keeps the car road legal.

And will better flow due to it's higher internal surface area and design. The alternative decat or catalyst removal should be considered an off road only mod, as removing a catalyst is illegal in most territories and regions for road registered cars (and in some you can't even replace a working catalyst).

Weak spots, Issues & problem areas on the E70

The E70 engines are not bad as far as reliability goes as long as they are well maintained.

Carbon build up in the head, particularly around the valves which will reduce power, this is a larger issue on direct injection engines but should be looked out for on all engines. We have tips on carbon removal guide Avoid short journeys and use a good quality fuel.

Frequent oil changes are vital on the E70, and more importantly so when the car is tuned and will help prolong the life of the engine.

If you want to learn more, or just get feedback on Tuning your E70 engine please join us in our friendly forum where you can discuss E70 tuning options in more detail with our E70 owners. It would also be worth reading our unbiased BMW tuning articles to get insights into each modification and how effective they will be.

Please help us improve these tips by sending us your feedback in the comments box below.

We love to hear what our readers have got up to and which upgrades work best for them on each model of car. We use your comments and feedback to improve the accuracy of these E70 tuning guides which get regular updates and revisions.

Check out my YouTube channel, we're regularly adding new content...


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