BMW X1 Tuning

"Tuning guide to the most effective BMW X1 (E84) modifications."

The X1 is a good project car to carry out, the crossover SUV lends itself nicely to tuning.

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.

The light chassis of the X1 makes every BHP you add count in the drive of the car. Looking at the M series of BMW's and Alpina models you can see the amazing potential these engines and chassis' has.

X1 Engine Tuning.

The X1 is a good tuning project to play with. The key to X1 tuning is getting the right mods - a lot of money can be wasted if you do it wrong.

Tuning tips and articles

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

A nice wide torque band and sweet spot of peak power at one third of your RPM range is optimum.

With just a few mods you can convert your X1 into a hot hatch, potentially beating larger cars on the track.

Smaller engines do not provide much of a return in terms of power so start with a bigger engine. Engine swaps are a good option if you have a small engine size.

Tuning modifications.

Typically these tuning parts are usually installed by our members, decide how far you want to push your car before you get going.

All engines felt quite lively and produced a decent amount of power but all can be improved with a remap, fast road cam and forced induction (turbo) upgrade, it's only really limited by your budget.

Petrol engine  options included

  • N20B16 1.6 L turbo 143 hp
  • N46B20 2.0 L I4 148hp
  • N20B20  2.0 L I4 turbo 181hp
  • N52B30  3.0 L I6 215hp & 255hp
  • N20B20  2.0 L I4 turbo 241hp
  • N55B30  3.0 L I6 turbo 300hp

Diesel options were

  • N47D20 2.0 L I4 turbo 201hp
  • N47D20 2.0 L I4 twin-turbo 215 hp

Getting the right motorsport upgrades for your planned usage of the car is vital. Stage 3 motor sport mods just don't work well on the road difficult in stop start traffic.

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Guide to the Best Tuning Mods & Upgrades

  1. Mods that Remove a Restriction

    If the intake or exhaust are restricted in any way this will have an impact on your cars performance, so use an induction kit/filter upgrade and better flowing exhaust whenever your tuning creates a flow restriction.

  2. Mods that Improve Handling

    Braking, Suspension and general alignment of the suspension components is vital for any tuning project even before you start increasing power.

  3. Fit Stronger Parts

    Tuned cars will show up weaknesses, typically in the turbochargers, clutch and internal engine components. Whilst most engines can cope with mild tuning mods, TorqueCars recommend that you upgrade the internal components before these weak spots manifest themselves.

  4. ECU Tunes & Remapping

    While some cars can be easily remapped, others may require piggyback ECU's or aftermarket ECU's but this is the most vital step of your tuning project as it fully releases the power from all of your mods and upgrades. Expect 10-20% on NASP engines and 30-40% on turbocharged units.

  5. More Power Needs More Fuel & Air

    Every tuning project will aim to increase the air supply, but fuel supply is just as vital and will need to match the air the engine can utilise. Fuel to Air ratio is vital so upgrade the fuel pump & injectors. Also you can look to perform head mods (flowing and porting), bigger valves, fast road cams and forced induction upgrades to improve fuel.

Stages of Tune

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

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

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

Peak power is good on competition cars but for a drivable and fun car you need a wide power band and perhaps extending the rev range.

The point of our pointers is to give a little insight into the world of tuning performance parts and point you in the right direction, our forum is the place to go for detailed advice and tips on your tuning project, the best sport parts and all aspects of modding cars.Fast road cams offer one of the biggest performance gains for your money as far as a stand alone performance modifications goes on a NASP engine.

The exhaust & intake flow play a large part in your cars power band, but be careful here, getting this wrong can upset the idle and make the car hard to drive in traffic. You'd need to follow a cam upgrade with other mods and finish with a remap to fully release the power gain.

Don't forget to ramp up the fuelling when you are increasing the power - it makes the car more thirsty.

Using higher octane fuel is another option if you find you are suffering from pinking or premature ignition on your BMW project after fitting other modifications. Larger injectors will enable you to supply sufficient fuel to the engine.

Uprate the fuel pump to cope with the extra fuel requirements of your tuned X1s uprated injectors.

Intake and Exhaust Tuning.

Breathing mods are usually next up. Induction kits will only help to add performance if your cars air intake is struggling! Adding an induction kit to most small engines will see LITTLE LOW END POWER GAIN AT ALL. If you have heavily modified your engine and it's need for air INCREASES DRAMATICALLY then an induction kit is the answer and will help remove this restriction.

Induction kits can work well on turbo engines and larger engines (if supplied with a suitable cold air feed or air box), generally though we'd just recommend for X1 engines you should settle for a sports panel air filter preferably made from cotton.

Sports exhausts can help increase the flow of gases through the engine. But if the exhaust is too large, ie: over 2.5 inches bore, you will lose a lot of the flow rate and end up sapping power and torque.

Getting the cylinder head gas flowed will further help more air into each cylinder. This is definitely a job for a pro with a flow bench. Your clutch can lose you loads of power as you increase the power if it starts to fail and the standard clutches are only ever good for power gains of up to 40%. Fit a competition clutch to avoid power leak through the transmission. The best mods in our experience for your X1 are fast road camshaft, remap, induction and exhaust, suspension.

Turbo engines are just begging to be Upgraded. You will see phenomenal power gains on most modern turbo charged cars including diesels making a remap one of the most cost effective and phenomenal modifications for your money.

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

The most significant power gains for NASP engines usually involve the addition of forced induction. Superchargers are usually easier to add than turbos. Turbos increase power in exponential proportion to increasing engine speed and this can make mapping difficult.

The nice steady boost and rpm characteristics of the supercharger make them simpler to map. Adding forced induction will nearly always require a lower compression ratio or water injection.

Handling/Suspension upgrades

Handling modifications are the thing most do first for the X1.

Adding a tiny bit of negative camber at the front and a degree or two of toe out, will substantially improve your X1 in handling and cornering.

We would go to a maximum drop of 29mm - 35 mm on most models. You risk compromising your handling if you go lower than this.

Alloy wheel upgrades.

Alloy wheels can help the brakes cool down and are usually less heavy than steel ones. If you are serious about performance then you will need to carefully choose your tires - ideally with a directional tread pattern tire. It is worth noting that although they can look cool on the X1 large alloy wheels will actually decrease your performance. The larger you go the lower your acceleration will be - this to the change in your effective final drive ratio.

With this in mind endeavour to keep the overall rolling diameter of the wheel the recommended OEM sizes. In all cases without going above 16 inches.

There is a more updated version of this X1 Tuning article on TorqueCars.com.

For more information on Tuning your car please join us in our friendly forum where you can discuss X1 options in more detail with our X1 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.

We need your help improving this article, so please send us your feedback in the comments box below and pass on any tips, points or facts we have wrong or have not covered. We really do love seeing our visitors car projects and which mods work best for them, this site is very much a community effort, and we remind our visitors of our non profit non commercial approach to running this site. All of your comments are used to improve the accuracy of these articles which are continually revised, tweaked and updated.

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