BMW’s most reliable six-cylinder engine


Those of you who have noticed the tendency of automakers to use confusing naming systems are familiar with BMW’s smart nomenclatures. Their first car, the Bmw 3/15 PS was the first to introduce this naming convention; the logical structure in which the power and tax bracket was displayed still showed importance in modern times. So in 2021, we still have the 318i, 530i and the Toyota Z4 30i to carry the flag of history.

Where the confusion sets in is when you find out that the 318i’s 18i is not a reflection of engine displacement but of horsepower in kilowatts. To add more fuel to the fire of confusion, converting the 18 kW to horsepower only gives a value of 24 hp. You see, the value 18 corresponds to a slice of kw. With a value of 45 corresponding to a range of 300 to 350 kW, you can sleep at night knowing that your all new 3 Series doesn’t have 24 horsepower.

For those unfamiliar with this iteration of BMW’s inline-six engines, the N52 was the first engine to use a magnesium / aluminum composite block.

Here’s what you need to know about the N52

2011 BMW 382xi Coupe E92

Via: Wikimedia Commons

With durability and lightness as engine strengths, the N52 was an outstanding replacement for its predecessor, the M54. Being light meant better weight distribution, and with the addition of dual electronic variable valve timing, these engines could produce over 260 naturally aspirated horsepower. Add a variable length intake manifold and your engine will sing a healthy note equal to that of the famous 2JZ “GE”.

While the 2JZ GE comes with forged internals such as connecting rods and pistons (the GTE had different pistons and head gaskets), the N52 was reluctant to undertake a high level of forced induction, although a few Expensive supercharger kits that pull 50 extra ponies at best.

Obviously if you have the budget there is always the option of forging the set, but why would you do it when you can buy an N54, which is the jealous opponent of the GTE? In essence, the N52 is like one of those dishes best served on its own. No meat. No salad. And certainly no sauce.

Bmw 330i

Via: Wikimedia Commons

If you’re not a sauce fan, you can always add red pepper flakes in the form of decat heads and a resonant cat back system. If you want to add these components and have any doubts, please contact a professional for help. It can be said that not all cars should be fitted with straight pipes, but that is not the case here.

Buzzes, pops and bangs along with a linear power band make the N52 one of the top six inline engines. Then there’s his party thing: his ability to walk along the freeway and come back to 39 mpg, which may not sound like a lot but remember that is the same engine that can crank a e92 cut from a standstill to 60 mph in six seconds. So not much to do here.

Final thoughts

When it comes to all six in-line engines available, the N52 was in a league of its own, garnering awards and fans throughout an eleven-year lifespan. But the universe exists because of balance, and with that in mind, the N52 will need its fair share of problems to match its influence. Oil leaks, VANOS and not to mention failed water pumps all cause your 328i to occasionally remind you that you are not driving a Toyota Corolla.

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