2008 BMW 135i: DME Tune Reflash
May 21, 2009
As good as our longterm 2008 BMW 135i's twin-turbo 3.0-liter inline-six engine is--and it is undoubtedly good--there are people out there that think it can be made even better.
We recently crossed paths with Scott Barbour of DME Tune, a purveyor of BMW go-fast tuning solutions. In fact, tuning BMWs is all the company does.
After a brief chat, it became obvious that DME Tune is serious about doing it right. Company principals include Jim Conforti, a well-known name among BMW performance tuning, and Scott Barbour of Harman Motive tuning fame. An example of their anality is that they use a $1300 battery charger while reflashing, just to ensure the voltage stays absolutely stable.
Shortly thereafter, we decided to take the plunge and have DME Tune reflash our little 135i to give it some more punch.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. Some background first. Click the jump to learn more.
Who: DME Tune is a Los Angeles-based company specializing in extracting more performance from the 335i, 135i and, well, any BMW with the turbocharged N54 engine.
Jim Conforti creates the DME Tune calibrations. Scott Barbour handles the front end customer interface.
What: DME Tune's approach to increased performance is to reflash the car's engine control unit with a revised calibration that dials up the boost a bit, re-maps the ignition timing and fueling strategies, tweaks the cam timing and more.
There are no additional pieces of hardware to install on the vehicle.
Why: Increased performance, of course. In addition, DME Tune's reflash is said to be completely invisible to the dealer and will not trigger fault codes.
How: Today, their process goes like this--you bring your car to them, go out for a sandwich, and 30 minutes later your car is ready.
This approach obviously has limitations if you live beyond driving distance of them. The company is aware of this potentially inconvenient situation and plans to address it in the near future.
So what's it like? Is it fast? Are there any downsides? How much power does it make? Can a reflash make the 135i less ugly?
One thing at a time. We'll have answers to at least some of these questions in the coming days. Don't go far.
Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor