After a lot of research and consideration I decided to fit the official BMW Power Kit to my 2010 BMW 320d LCI. This performance upgrade kit increases the standard 135Kw/380Nm to 147Kw/420Nm, leaving the original vehicle warranty and motorplan unaffected. Although these figures do not seem like a lot on paper, the Power Kit made a very noticeable difference in both performance and overall vehicle response.
The BMW Power Kit consists of:
1. Engine Control Unit (ECU) with updated software
2. Higher capacity Intercooler
3. 600W electric radiator fan with improved frame for better airflow.
4. Plastic air guide
5. BMW Power Kit Aluminium Badge
6. Other small parts
The most important parts which are upgraded are the ECU, Intercooler and radiator fan. Being a Stage 2 upgrade, the performance increase delivered by the new ECU is sustained through the improved cooling provided by the uprated intercooler and radiator fan. The performance parts are not covered by the original vehicle warranty but carry their own 2 year warranty from date of installation, if fitted by an authorised BMW dealership.
BMW Power Kit Installation:
The installation of the performance parts, including the vehicle test drive, took about 2 hours. I took this opportunity to take photos of the original and new parts for comparison.
BMW Power Kit Aluminium Badge – To the untrained eye this badge, fitted to the air intake, is the only indication that there is anything different under the bonnet.
ECU – There are no physical differences between the old and new ECU. The difference is software only.
Intercooler – The new intercooler is slightly bigger and has 8 rows compared to the 6 rows of the old intercooler, when viewed from the front.
Radiator Fan – The new radiator fan is powered by a 600 Watt motor compared to the old 400 Watt and is slightly larger in diameter. The fan housing appear tapered for more focused airflow.
Power Kit Review:
The only exterior indication that a performance conversion was done is a shiny, new intercooler. A badge on the bootlid or the front grill would have been a nice touch.
No additional excitement is added to the engine startup, but changes are immediately noticeable once you start driving. The 12Kw and 40Nm power increase quoted by BMW seems small, but those are clearly not the only changes occasioned by the new software. Throttle and, more noticeably, gearbox response are improved considerably. The initial delay previously experienced between stepping on the throttle and the gearbox deciding what needs to be done is gone. Depending on how aggressive you want to accelerate, the gearbox will instantly drop two gears instead of the previous one, making sure you get maximum acceleration.
From the line things also feel a lot quicker. Turbo lag is reduced, and a very impressive surge of torque now fills its place. There is still some delay caused by the automatic gearbox needing to lock up, but even this seems to have been reduced.
Where the 20d lacked performance most was the mid and higher end of the rev range. The Power Kit cured that problem and the car now pulls very strong all the way to the red line, never feeling like it’s running out of steam. In Sport Mode gear changes are aggressive and you will smile gear after gear, until you run out of speedometer. Even at higher speeds the increased torque and improved gearbox response make overtaking a breeze. With power being available on demand, cornering also became a lot more fun and you have to feather the throttle to manage oversteer.
Fuel consumption remains surprisingly low. A 30km trip, driving at 110km/h using the cruise control, previously consumed 5.3L/100km. The same trip with the Power Kit installed produce 4.8L/100km. Spirited driving produces an average fuel consumption of between 10 and 11L/100km. These figures are above expectation and I am very happy about retaining good fuel consumption.
Do not expect your headrest to slap you in the back of your head after doing this conversion. Performance is still smooth, but much improved. When considering this power upgrade, take into consideration that the difference is not limited to performance figures only, the whole engine and gearbox setup is improved. The fact that your BMW warranty and motorplan remains unaffected is also a huge bonus. Official BMW upgrades do not come cheap, but they are worth every cent.
In the words of my friend Nick, also a 320d owner: “This is how the 320d should have been from the start!”
A very big THANK YOU goes to Juan Bezuidenhout, Parts Manager at Menlyn Auto, for personally assisting me throughout this process. Whether responding to e-mails, or having a chat over coffee, he was always willing to assist and answer all my questions. My “old” 320d will not be missed.
UPDATE: I have since also fitted the BMW Performance Exhaust Silencer and the two upgrades compliment each other perfectly.
Related Article: Do BMW’s official performance upgrades affect your motorplan?