Mercedes M160 Tuning

"All you need to know about tuning and performance parts on the Mercedes M160 engine!"

Now we shall review M160 tuning and point out the best upgrades. Mercedes M160 are awesome to work on and with the optimum modified parts like ECU maps, turbo improvements and camshafts you will certainly enhance your driving pleasure.

History, Power & Specs of the Engine

Straight-three

M160 E06 LA

0.6 L (599 cc)

  • 33 kW (45 PS; 44 hp) at 5,250 rpm 70 Nm (52 lbft) at 3,000 rpm
  • 37 kW (50 PS; 50 hp) at 5,250 rpm 80 Nm (59 lbft) at 2,000 rpm
  • 45 kW (61 PS; 60 hp) at 5,250 rpm 88 Nm (65 lbft) at 2,250 rpm
  • 53 kW (72 PS; 71 hp) at 5,470 rpm 108 Nm (80 lbft) at 2,200 rpm

M160 E07 LA

0.7 L (698 cc)

  • 37 kW (50 PS; 50 hp) at 5,250 rpm 80 Nm (59 lbft) at 1,800 rpm
  • 46 kW (63 PS; 62 hp) at 5,250 rpm 95 Nm (70 lbft) at 2,000–4,000 rpm
  • 61 kW (83 PS; 82 hp) at 5,250 rpm 110 Nm (81 lbft) at 2,250–4,500 rpm
  • 74 kW (101 PS; 99 hp) at 5,250 rpm 130 Nm (96 lbft) at 2,500–5,300 Rpm

Tuning the Mercedes M160 and best M160 performance parts.

Best M160 tuning parts

When talking about the top modifications for your M160 engine, we are going to concentrate on the parts that give the biggest return for your cash.

Significant gains on the M160 can be made from cam upgrades. Altering the cam profile alters the intake and exhaust durations on the engine and can dramatically change the torque and power output.

Fast road cams normally bump the torque over the rev range, you may sacrifice a little low down power but top end will be better.

Competition cams, bump the top end band but as a result the car will not idle smoothly and low end power nearly always suffers.

For a car driven daily must carefully try to match your engines power to your preferences.

I'd never have ever thought or claimed that a M160 Competition camshaft is a pleasure to live with when driving in heavy traffic. The low end idle will be very lumpy and irregular, so something you would notice on a track when you drive in the upper third of the rpm band, but on roads this is a serious issue and we've heard from lots of drivers lamenting their decision to add an extreme competition cam profile to their engine.

Each engine responds better to less aggressive camshaft durations so view each engine as unique.

The map and fuelling also have an effect on the power gains you'll make.

Extending exhaust or intake durations can alter the power band and on most engines the exhaust and intake durations do not need to match, although most cams and tuners use matched pairs there are some advantages to extending the intake or exhaust durations.

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Best Engine Mods for your car

  1. Mapping - remapping provides the most advantage in terms of cost savings,  aftermarket ECUs, and piggyback ECUs are all alternatives.
  2. Fast road cams are one of the most significant mechanical changes, but they must be installed by someone who knows what they're doing and they are not always easy to source but you might find a local firm to regrind a stock camshaft.
  3. Intake and Exhaust - Note that on their own these mods will NOT ADD POWER in most cases, but they can help enhance power after other mods by removing the restriction.
  4. Upgrades to turbochargers and superchargers - forced induction is the most efficient approach to increase air supply, allowing you to burn more fuel and make more power. It is one of the most costly upgrades but provides the best gains.
  5. Head work - The goals of porting and flowing the head are to get air flowing into the engine while removing flow restrictions and turbulence.

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

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

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

 

The M160 engines are great to work on and thankfully there is a growing number of mods and performance parts around.

 

ECU mapping should help to release the full potential of all the upgrades you've done to your M160.

(In some cases, as the factory ECU is locked flashing is not an option, so an aftermarket ECU is the route to take, and many of these will outperform factory ECU's but make sure it has knock protection and that you get it setup properly.)

It will usually give you around 30% more power on turbocharged vehicles and you can expect to see around 15% on NA (naturally aspirated) engines, but figures achieved usually depend much on the upgrades you've done and the condition of your engine.

Forcing air and fuel into each cylinder is the main goal to any car tuning job.

Intake manifolds take the air from the intake filter and allow it to be fed into the engine cylinders with fuel for the squish phase.

Shape and flow characteristics of the Intake can make a big effect on to fuel atomisation and engine efficiency on the M160.

On popular production engines intake manifold are begging for aftermarket tuning parts, although some manufacturers provide decently flowing intake manifold.

Larger M160 valves, getting port matching and head flowing will also boost bhp, & more importantly will permit raising the bhp increase on other upgrades.

Turbo upgrades

NA (naturally aspirated) engines need quite a lot of work when you add a turbo, so we have a separate guide to help you take into account the pros and cons of going this route on your M160

The more air you can get into an engine, the more fuel it can burn and uprating the induction with a turbocharger upgrade makes major power gains.

When your car is turbocharged, parts are relatively easy and you'll see that turbocharged engines are built using more solid components.

However engines will have power limits

We recommend you find these limitations and install more solid crank and pistons to survive the power.

We see many tuners spending a fortune on turbo charger upgrades on the M160 only to experience the motor go up in smoke soon after it's been enthusiastically driven.

Big upgraded turbochargers tend to experience no power at low rpm, and low capacity turbochargers spool up much more quickly but don't have the peak end bhp gains.

In recent times the choice of turbo chargers is always increasing and we are seeing variable vane turbo chargers, permitting the vane profile is altered according to speed to lower lag and increase top end torque.

Twin scroll turbo chargers divert the exhaust flow into a couple of channels and feed these at differently designed vanes in the turbo charger. They also improve the scavenging effect of the engine.

You'll commonly see there's a restriction in the air flow sensor (AFM/MAF/MAP) on the M160 when loads more air is being drawn into the engine.

Going up you'll find 4 bar air sensors coping with quite large power gains, whereas the OEM air sensor was restricting torque at a much lower level.

Adding a supercharger or additional turbo will make large bhp and torque gains, although more difficult to configure. We have this feature on twinchargers if you want to read more.

Fuelling

You will need to ensure that the engine is not starved of fuel so will need to ramp up the fuelling when you start exceeding 20% of a power increase.We would recommend you to be generous with your injectors flow rate.

 

As a rule of thumb add 20% capacity when fitting an injector, this takes into account injector deterioration and gives a little 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.

All the following flywheel power targets will assume an injector duty cycle of 80% and a base of 58psi of fuel pressure at idle.

4 Cylinder turbocharged engines

  • 58 PSI 340cc/min 200hp
  • 58 PSI 511cc/min 300hp
  • 58 PSI 682cc/min 400hp
  • 58 PSI 1022cc/min 600hp

5 Cylinder turbocharged engines

  • 58 PSI 273cc/min 200hp
  • 58 PSI 409cc/min 300hp
  • 58 PSI 545cc/min 400hp
  • 58 PSI 818cc/min 600hp

4 Cylinder NA (naturally aspirated) engines

  • 58 PSI 285cc/min 200hp
  • 58 PSI 426cc/min 300hp
  • 58 PSI 568cc/min 400hp
  • 58 PSI 853cc/min 600hp

4 Cylinder supercharged engines

  • 58 PSI 312cc/min 200hp
  • 58 PSI 468cc/min 300hp
  • 58 PSI 625cc/min 400hp
  • 58 PSI 937cc/min 600hp

Exhaust

Only look to improve your exhaust if the existing exhaust is actually creating a restriction.

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

Sports exhausts can help balance the flow of air through the engine.

 

But if your exhaust is too big, ie: it's over 2.5 inches bore, you will lose a lot of the exhaust flow rate and end up sapping power and torque.

Common exhaust restrictions are in the filters installed, so adding a better flowing sports alternative is the answer. This keeps the car road legal and will flow much better due to it's higher internal surface area and design, so has the added benefit of keeping your car road legal. The alternative decat should be considered an off road only mod, as removing a catalyst is illegal in most territories and regions for road registered cars..

Weak spots, Issues & problem areas on the M160

The M160 engines are generally reliable and solid units, as long as you follow the manufacturers service schedules, and use a good quality oil to ensure longevity. Few problems should happen as long as they are regularly serviced and maintained.

Carbon build up in the head, particularly around the valves which will sap power or create flat spots, this is a larger issue on direct injection engines but should be looked out for on all engines. We have tips on removing carbon build up.

Some of our members have had issues with flat spots or glitches after applying mods and upgrades or tuning, this is not usually related to this engines design, so instead see our article on diagnosing flat spots and problems after tuning which should help you get the bottom of this issue.

Regular oil changes are vital on the M160, especially when tuned and will help extend the life and reliability of the engine.

If you would like to know more, or just get some friendly advice on Tuning your M160 engine please join us in our friendly forum where you can discuss tuning options in more detail with our M160 owners. It would also be worth reading our unbiased tuning articles to get a full grasp of the benefits and drawbacks of each modification.

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

We love to hear what our visitors have got up to and which modifications work best for you on your car. Which helps us keep our guides and tips up to date helping others with their modified car projects. Your feedback and comments are used to keep this page up to date, and help improve the accuracy of these M160 tuning guides which get regular updates and revisions.

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