Mercedes M297 Tuning

"All you need to know about tuning the Mercedes M297 engine!"

It is notable this engine was chosen for the Pagani Zonda, and has an amazing design and output. The AMG tuned engine shows the potential of this engine block.

We shall review M297 tuning and highlight the best modifications for your car. Mercedes M297 make a good tuning project and with the optimum modified tuning mods like remaps, turbo upgrades and camshafts you will substantially maximize your driving pleasure.

History, Power & Specs of the M297 Engine

  • 450 kW 612 PS 603 hp 6800 775 Nm 572lbft 386
  • kW 525 PS 518 hp 5500 750 Nm 553lbft
  • 408 kW 555 PS 547 hp 5900
  • 442 kW 601 PS 593 hp 6150 760 Nm 561lbft
  • 478 kW 650 PS 641 hp 6200 780 Nm 575lbft
  • 492 kW 669 PS 660 hp 498 kW 677 PS 668 hp 559
  • kW 760 PS 750 hp 8000

M297

386 kW version

1997–2001 R129 SL73 AMG
1992–1999 C140 CL73 AMG

408 kW version

2001–2004 Pagani Zonda C12 S 7.3
2003–2006 Pagani Zonda S Roadster

442 kW version

2004 Pagani Zonda C12 S Monza
2005–2008 Pagani Zonda F

450 kW version

1997-1999 CLK GTR Straßenversion 6.9 L

478 kW version

2006–2011 Pagani Zonda F Clubsport
2006–2009 Pagani Zonda F Roadster
2009 Pagani Zonda PS

492 kW version

2010 Pagani Zonda Tricolore

498 kW version

2009–2010 Pagani Zonda Cinque
2010 Pagani Zonda Cinque Roadster
2010 Pagani Zonda HH

559 kW version

2012 Pagani Zonda 760LH
2012 Pagani Zonda 760RS
2012 Pagani Zonda 764 Passione
2014 Pagani Zonda LM
2014 Pagani Zonda X
2015 Pagani Zonda 760 Zozo
2015 Pagani Zonda 760 AG Roadster
2015 Pagani Zonda Kiryu
2016 Pagani Zonda OLIVER Evolution

Tuning the Mercedes M297 and best M297 performance parts.

Best M297 parts

Just because particular upgrades are are common on M297 it doesn't mean its worth having, instead we will highlight only those upgrades that we reckon are the best and that will give your M297 the best power gain for you spend.

Altering your M297 camshaft will make a dramatic difference to the engine bhp. Choosing a higher performance camshaft profile raises the bhp accordingly.

Fast road camshafts tend to bump the bhp over the rpm band, you may lose a little low down power but high end rpm power will improve.

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

On a car used daily must carefully try to match your power band to your cars usage.

You'll never find a M297 Race camshaft is a pleasure to live with when on the daily commute, because the lumpy idle will make the car prone to stall and smooth driving at low rpm becomes impossible. If you are developing a track car this doesn't matter as you are in the high end of your RPM range anyway and that is where you want the power to be.

Different M297 engines respond better to more aggressive cam durations so view each engine as unique.

The engine timing and injectors and fuel pump also have a large bearing on the bhp gains you'll get.

Altering valve durations can alter the bhp 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.
  6. Typical stage 1 mods often include:
    Remaps/piggy back ECU, drilled & smoothed airbox, Panel air filters, Intake headers, Fast road camshaft, Sports exhaust manifold.

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

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

    The M297 engines respond well to mods and we're pleased to see that there is an increase of modifications and tuning parts out there.

    Remaps allows a tuner to fully realize the full potential of all the tuning parts you've done to your M297.

    (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 NASP engines, but your mileage usually vary depending on the tuning parts you've done and the condition of your engine.

    Feeding air and fuel into your M297 is the aim to any engine modification task.

    Air Intake manifolds carry the air during the suck phase from the filter and allow it to be drawn into the engine and mixed with fuel.

    The size of bore and shape and flow characteristics of the Intake can make a noticeable difference to fuel atomisation on the M297.

    Most headers are crying out for performance upgrades, although a few makers provide reasonably well designed headers.

    Larger M297 valves, getting M297 port enlargement and head flowing will also increase bhp, and importantly will permit an improved bhp increase on other tuning mods.

    M297 Turbo upgrades

    NASP 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 M297

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

    When your motor is turbo charged upgrades are giving better power gains and we find turbo charged engines are made using more solid components.

    However you'll find engines will need better parts at higher power limits.It is important to find these limits and upgrade to stronger pistons, crank and engine components to utilize the power.

    It's not unheard of car owners spending a lots of money on turbo charger upgrades on the M297 only to experience the car explode soon after it's been completed.

    Bigger capacity turbos often suffer a bottom end lag, and smaller turbos spool up much more quickly but do not have the high rpm torque gains.

    We are pleased that the market of turbos is always increasing and we now see variable vane turbos, permitting the vane angle is altered according to speed to lower lag and increase top end power.

    Twin scroll turbos divert the exhaust gases into 2 channels and flow these at differently profiled vanes in the turbocharger. They also increase the scavenging effect of the engine.

    You'll commonly see there is a limitation in the air flow sensor MAP/MAF/AFM on the M297 when loads 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 torque at a much lower level.

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

    Fuelling

    When you increase the performance you will need to look at to the fuel system.

    More performance needs more fuel. Don't forget to over specify your flow rate on the injectors.

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

    M297 Performance Exhausts

    You may need to boost your exhaust if your current exhaust is actually creating a flow problem.

    On most factory exhausts you should find that the flow rate is still ok 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 generally help improve air flow out of the engine but do not go too large or you might just stuff your flow rate and make things worse. So generally speaking, keep to a size of 1.5 to around 2.5 inches to maximise flow rates, and this should take into account the amount of air your engine is moving.

    Typically exhaust restrictions come around the catalysts installed, so adding a freer flowing performance catalyst removes the restriction. We note that performance cats perform similarly to decats and have the added benefit of keeping your car street legal, as decats or catalyst removal is illegal in most territories for road going cars.

    Weak spots, Issues & problem areas on the M297

    The M297 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 M297, 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 M297 engine please join us in our car forums where you can discuss M297 tuning options in more detail with our M297 owners. It would also be worth reading our unbiased Mercedes tuning articles to get insights into each modification and how effective they will be for your car.

    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 upgrades 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 M297 articles which are continually updated.

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