BMW M3 E46 Runs Hot Laps Around Mugello, S54 Engine Sounds Amazing

Many enthusiasts argue that BMW doesn't make performance cars like it used to. Granted, Bimmers are faster and more powerful nowadays, but the consensus is that all these new electronics are ruining the driving experience.
BMW M3 E46 race car 1 photo
Photo: 19Bozzy92/YouTube
I don't know about that, but I do know that BMW's older inline-six engine sounded amazing. And this video of an E46-generation M3 race car doing hot laps around the Mugello track proves just that.

Now before you hit that play button, there's something you need to know about this car. It's not exactly a factory race car from the era. JR Motorsport built this coupe specifically for the TCX class of the special touring car endurance series. It does have an S54 engine like the original M3 E46, but it's been upgraded from the original spec. It's basically an M3 prepped for racing.

The S54 mill is a legendary one. It was introduced in 2000 as a high-performance version of the M54. The latter also debuted in 2000 and powered a wide variety of Bimmers, including the 3 Series, 5 Series, X3, X5, and Z4. The S54 version was obviously limited to M-badged cars.

It was originally offered in the M3, rated at 338 horsepower, but a 321-horsepower version was also fitted in the Z3 M Roadster and M Coupe. In 2006, BMW rolled out the Z4 M with the same 338-horsepower mill.

A more powerful S54 engine, the B32HP, was made available in 2003 in the hardcore M3 CSL. This time around rated at 355 horsepower, it featured a carbon-fiber intake, lightweight exhaust manifold, and revised camshafts.

The reliability of the M54 and S54 engines was further proven in motorsport, with race-spec versions of the E46 3 Series winning several touring car championships. From 2004 to 2008, the E46 won a total of seven titles, including the European and the World Touring Car championships and national series in Denmark, Italy, Britain, and Asia.

Yes, nothing really beats the exhaust note of a beefed-up V8 or even a V12, but the S54 comes pretty close. Of all the legendary inline-six mills out there (they're too many to mention), the S54 is among my favorites. Check it out, screaming at high revs and spitting flames in the footage below.

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About the author: Ciprian Florea
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Ask Ciprian about cars and he'll reveal an obsession with classics and an annoyance with modern design cues. Read his articles and you'll understand why his ideal SUV is the 1969 Chevrolet K5 Blazer.
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