Updated: May 10, 2022
It seems that with every review we publish, a recurring discussion continues to surface. Because we review both OEM and modified cars, the discussions dance around the questions, "Is factory or aftermarket performance better?" and "Is it worth the effort and money to modify your ride when you could probably get the same performance from something that comes straight from the factory"? Mustangs, Subarus, anything that can be modified has a factory counterpart that does the job of the modified car and maybe even better, but for a lot of extra money upfront of course. So that brings us to the focus of this review that re-kindled the repeating discussion, the 2015 BMW 335i. Its factory counterpart: The F80 generation M3, which you can read our review of here.
We met with David, the owner of the 335i, on a typical Buffalo day to add fodder to these discussions and see if his experience could help answer our questions.
"Is factory or aftermarket performance better?", "Is it worth the money and effort modify something when you could obtain the same performance right from the factory?".
To start, the day of the review we got a text from David that contained some bad news, “Hey man, seems my car is having a coolant leak, might have to take it easy on the driving for today.” This isn’t something we wanted to hear, but we both persisted and followed through with our meeting and the review anyway.
Waiting in the parking lot, a distant sound of pops and bangs slowly grew closer as David approached, it was time. The 335i, with its under-the-radar styling, is very unsuspecting at first glance, but David has installed some Enkei wheels, headlights, and taillights. Around the back, a AAconcepts Diffuser and a carbon fiber spoiler have been installed to give the car some aesthetic flair. But let’s stop with the fluff and get to the nitty-gritty details. The N55 engine on the 335i comes with a 34mm turbocharger from the factory, but this ‘Big Boost Stage 3.4’ kit has been installed, upping the turbo size to a whopping 65mm. Along with the turbo, David has upgraded the blow-off valve to a 50mm unit, added rod bearings from VAC, upgraded downpipe and intercooler from VRSF, and a few other goodies all tied together by a Motiv tune.
We hop in, start up, and drive off, with a faint burble coming from the exhaust at low RPMs. The interior of this car is nice, with most surfaces covered in black leather, no ultra-luxury interior here, but that’s not what this car is about. What it is about is what happened next, the acceleration. As we talked about the car and its performance features, David mentioned rolling anti-lag, something I had never experienced before.
“Watch this” David says just before he activates what I can only describe as a jet engine powering up. Boost builds, David lets off the brakes, and we’re gone. There goes 2nd gear, 3rd gear, triple-digit speeds appear on the speedometer in a matter of seconds. This car is no slouch. Another straightaway comes around and we slow to a halt, activate launch control, once again the car grips and rockets away, firing off sequential-like shifts with ease.
This may look like your basic 3-Series, but it’s certainly no joke. What’s our favorite part of David’s car? Well, we have two things, the first being the noises that can only be described as gunshots that fire out of the exhaust (stay tuned for a video of this on our Instagram) and second, the fact that it handles so well. Maybe it’s the lowering springs or the massive grip from the 245-section Firestone tires, but we never experienced any sort of uneasiness or loss of traction from the rear end, making this car a formidable weapon on the streets and even the backroads. The 335 didn’t cease to impress us, with this specific build making in the ballpark of 550 horsepower.
Now that you know all about this example, how does it compare to the brute of the car that is the F80 M3? If you remember, we’ve reviewed an F80 making similar numbers to this 335i, you can read that here. The biggest difference that we could notice was the grip, while the 335 holds on in corners, from launches and rolls, the M3 gives none of that, spinning its tires up into 4th gear before it finally gains traction. Another difference is interior quality, with the M car surpassing the 335 with more carbon and nicer materials overall. Finally, the engine. The N55 in the 335 is a high-power unit, and this 550hp is a comparatively low number to what some 335i’s are making. But 600 horsepower can be the limit for the S55 in the M, with some parts just not being able to handle that kind of power and boost.
So that leads us to the point where we are supposed to have a conclusion, to our recurring questions...factory or aftermarket and modify or buy? Well, sorry to disappoint but we can’t decide. Both of these examples are incredible machines and their owners are diehard and earn the highest respect from our team. So, we will leave where we started, but given the option, what would you do? The debate continues...
For more great content, check out our Instagram @superfastcarnews Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are ‘affiliate links.’ This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, SFCN will receive an affiliate commission. It's ok though! All the stuff we reference here is legit and from great companies and individuals. Some of the photographs used in this article were not taken by the SFCN Team. Partial image credit goes to @dr.gore335 on Instagram