BMW’s most powerful engine ever wasn’t actually offered in a BMW

Introduced in 2021, the BMW M5 CS is the most powerful production car from the German manufacturer. Rated at 627 horsepower, the 4.4-liter V-8 trumps the larger V-10 and V-12 engines from the past and enables the M5 CS to outgun all M-badged Bimmers produced thus far. But is the S63 under the sedan’s hood the most powerful engine BMW has ever built? Not quite. That honor goes to the S70, an engine from the 1990s. But there’s a catch, as this specific engine wasn’t used in a BMW. Find out more about that in our top 10 most powerful BMW engines of all time list below.

10. B57 3.0-liter inline-six (BMW 750d)

The Most Powerful BMW Engines Ever Built
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We’re kicking this list off with a diesel engine, the only oil burner you’ll read about in here. The B57 engine was introduced in 2015 in single- and twin-turbo layouts, with up to 315 horsepower on tap. But in 2016, BMW launched a quad-turbo version of the 3.0-liter inline-six, which generates 394 horsepower and 561 pound-feet of twist in the G11-generation BMW 750d. Currently the company’s most powerful diesel, the quad-turbo B57 is also offered in the X5, X6, and X7 SUVs.

B57 3.0-liter inline-six (BMW 750d) specifications
Layout: quad-turbo, 3.0-liter inline-six
Output: 394 horsepower
Torque: 561 pound-feet
Production: 2016-present
BMW models: 7 Series, X5, X6, X7

10. S62 4.9-liter V-8 (BMW M5)

The Most Powerful BMW Engines Ever Built Drivetrain
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The quad-turbo B57 engine is on par with the S62, a gasoline V-8 unit that BMW produced from 1998 until 2003. Based on the M62 that powered a variety of BMW models, the S62 debuted in the E39-generation M5 in 1998. With a redline set at 7,000 rpm, the naturally aspirated, 4.9-liter V-8 generated 394 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. This engine was briefly offered in the BMW Z8, but it was also used by Hartge, Ascari, and Bentley. The British company had a twin-turbo, Cosworth-developed version fitted in the Arnage between 1998 and 2000. It was rated at 349 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque.

S62 4.9-liter V-8 (BMW M5) specifications
Layout: 4.9-liter V-8
Output: 394 horsepower
Torque: 420 pound-feet
Production: 1998-2003
BMW models: M5, Z8
Other cars: Hartge H50, Ascari KZ1 and A10

9. S65 4.4-liter V-8 (BMW M3 GTS)

The Most Powerful BMW Engines Ever Built High Resolution Drivetrain
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Also a naturally aspirated V-8, the S65 was introduced in 2007 as a replacement for the S54 inline-six engine. It was mainly developed for the BMW M3 and generated 414 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque in standard trim. In 2010, BMW introduced an upgraded version, rated at 444 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque, for the limited-edition M3 GTS. BMW also used versions of this engine for its M3- and Z4-based race cars, while Wiesmann commissioned it for the MF4. The engine was discontinued in 2013, when BMW switched to a twin-turbo, 3.0-liter inline-six for the M3.

S65 4.4-liter V-8 (BMW M3 GTS) specifications
Layout: 4.4-liter V-8
Output: 444 horsepower
Torque: 325 pound-feet
Production: 2007-2013
BMW models: M3, M3 GTS
Other cars: Wiesmann MF4

8. N73 6.75-liter V-12 (Rolls-Royce Phantom)

2005 Rolls-Royce Phantom
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The largest engine on this list, the N73 was introduced in 2003 and remained in production for an impressive 13 years. But that’s mostly thanks to Rolls-Royce. Originally developed for the 7 Series, the N73 displaced 6.0 liters in standard trim, generating 439 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque. But BMW also created a larger 6.75-liter version for Rolls-Royce. The British company used it in the big Phantom sedan from 2003 until 2016. The 6.75-liter V-12 also generated more power at 453 horses and 531 pound-feet of torque. It was replaced by an equally large, but twin-turbocharged V-12 that BMW rolled out in 2010.

N73 6.75-liter V-12 (Rolls-Royce Phantom) specifications
Layout: 6.75-liter V-12
Output: 453 horsepower
Torque: 531 pound-feet
Production: 2003-2016
BMW models: 7 Series
Other cars: Rolls-Royce Phantom

7. S55 3.0-liter inline-six (BMW M4 GTS)

The Most Powerful BMW Engines Ever Built High Resolution Drivetrain
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Introduced in 2014 as a high-performance version of the N55, the 3.0-liter inline-six S55 engine gets us closer to the 500-horsepower mark. The twin-turbo unit was first offered in the M3 and M4 in 2014 with 425 horsepower. BMW eventually developed a 444-horsepower variant for the Competition package and a 453-horsepower version for the CS. The Germans sent the S55 engine into the history books with the M4 GTS, rated at 493 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque. The exact same engine powered the limited-edition M4 DTM Champion Edition, while detuned variants of the S55 are found in the M2 CS.

S55 3.0-liter inline-six (BMW M4 GTS) specifications
Layout: twin-turbo, 3.0-liter inline-six
Output: 493 horsepower
Torque: 443 pound-feet
Production: 2014-2021
BMW models: M4 GTS, M4 DTM Championship Edition

6. S85 5.0-liter V-10 (BMW M5)

2005 BMW M5 E60
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BMW may have built a few V-12 engines in recent years, but it only developed a V-10 in the modern era. But boy what an engine that was. I’m talking about the S85, a naturally aspirated, 5.0-liter V-10 that BMW created specifically for the E60-generation M5. Inspired by the company’s previous involvement into Formula One, the S85 wasn’t related to a regular production BMW mill.

Rated at 500 horsepower and 384 pound-feet of torque, it was BMW most powerful engine at the time.

Also offered in the E63-generation M6, it won numerous awards and in 2009 it found its way into the Wiesmann GT MF5. BMW dropped the V-10 in 2010, after only five years in production.

S85 5.0-liter V-10 (BMW M5) specifications
Layout: 5.0-liter V-10
Output: 500 horsepower
Torque: 384 pound-feet
Production: 2005-2010
BMW models: M5, M6
Other cars: Wiesmann GT MF5

5. S58 3.0-liter inline-six (BMW X3/X4 M)

2020 BMW X3 M
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Based on the familiar B58 engine platform, the S58 was introduced in 2019 as a replacement for the iconic S55. The twin-turbo, 3.0-liter inline-six mill debuted in the X3 M and X4 M SUVs and then found its way into the M3 and M4 compacts. The six-cylinder cranks out 473 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque in the base versions of the aforementioned vehicles. But BMW also offers it in upgraded from through the Competition package, which increases output to 503 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of twist. The S58 is BMW’s most powerful six-cylinder engine yet.

S58 3.0-liter inline-six (BMW X3/X4 M) specifications
Layout: twin-turbo, 3.0-liter inline-six
Output: 503 horsepower
Torque: 479 pound-feet
Production: 2019-present
BMW models: M3, M4, X3 M, X4 M

4. N63 4.4-liter V-8 (BMW M850i)

The Most Powerful BMW Engines Ever Built
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In production since 2008 and still going strong, the N63 is the longest-running engine on this list. The twin-turbo V-8 has come a long way since its introduction in 2008. Displacement increased from 4.0 to 4.4 liters and many of its internals were updated in 2012, 2016, and 2018.

Nowadays, the 4.4-liter V-8 packs more than 440 horsepower in every model, but there's a special B44T3 designation that pumps out an impressive 523 horsepower and 553 pound-feet.

That’s not far behind the S63 development offered in full-fledged M models. This iteration debuted in 2018 in the M850i, but it is now available in five more Bimmers: the 750i, M550i, and M50i versions of the X5, X6, and X7.

N63 4.4-liter V-8 (BMW M850i) specifications
Layout: twin-turbo 4.4-liter V-8
Output: 523 horsepower
Torque: 553 pound-feet
Production: 2018-present
BMW models: M850i, 750i, M550i, X5 M50i, X6 M50i, X7 M50i

3. N74 6.6-liter V-12 (Rolls-Royce Wraith Black Badge)

The Most Powerful BMW Engines Ever Built
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Remember the N73 we talked about earlier? The N74 is its twin-turbocharged successor. It was introduced in 2009 for the 7 Series, with the most powerful iteration rated at 602 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque. But BMW also developed a different variant for Rolls-Royce, which still offers it across the lineup in models like the Ghost, Wraith, Dawn, Phantom, and Cullinan. The 6.6-liter mill generates most power in the Wraith Black Badge, which comes with 623 horsepower and 642 pound-feet of torque. Yes, BMW’s third most powerful engine for road-legal cars is available in a Rolls-Royce.

N74 6.6-liter V-12 (Rolls-Royce Wraith Black Badge) specifications
Layout: twin-turbo, 6.6-liter V-12
Output: 623 horsepower
Torque: 642 pound-feet
Production: 2009-present
BMW models: 7 Series
Other cars: Rolls-Royce (entire lineup)

2. S63 4.4-liter V-8 (BMW M5 CS)

The Most Powerful BMW Engines Ever Built Drivetrain
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Finally, we hit our number two with the S63, a twin-turbo V-8 that BMW has been offering since 2010. This legendary engine can be found in a variety of Bimmers, including the X5 M and X6 M SUVs, as well as the M5, M6, and M8. But none are as powerful as the M5 CS that BMW introduced in 2021. Already impressively powerful in the M5 Competition, rated at 617 horsepower, the V-8 was further upgraded to generate 627 horses. Although it’s not BMW’s most powerful production engine, it is the most potent mill ever fitted into a BMW.

S63 4.4-liter V-8 (BMW M5 CS) specifications
Layout: twin-turbo 4.4-liter V-8
Output: 627 horsepower
Torque: 553 pound-feet
Production: 2010-present
BMW models: M5 CS

1. S70 6.1-liter V-12 (McLaren F1)

The Most Powerful BMW Engines Ever Built High Resolution Drivetrain
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For the most powerful engine on our list, we travel back in time to the early 1990s. That’s when BMW introduced the S70, a high-performance version of the M70, for the first-generation 8 Series. The first S70 was a 5.6-liter V-12 rated at 375 horsepower and 406 pound-feet in the M850 CSi, but BMW took things up a notch with the S70/2. This engine was developed for McLaren, which commissioned BMW to deliver a high-revving mill for the iconic F1 supercar. Although related to the S70 in the 8 Series, this engine was actually a new design, featuring brand-new components and a larger 6.1-liter displacement. The naturally aspirated V-12 delivered 618 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque in the road-going F1. Yes, that’s nine horses below the BMW M5 CS, but this engine was capable of more than that.

The mill was upgraded to 671 horsepower and 520 pound-feet of twist in the F1 LM, a limited-edition version of the British supercar.

BMW also created an S70/3 iteration for its V12 LM and LMR race cars, with the latter having won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1999.

S70 6.1-liter V-12 (McLaren F1) specifications
Layout: 6.1-liter V-12
Output: 671 horsepower
Torque: 520 pound-feet
Production: 1993-1998
McLaren models: F1 (and all of its variations)

Bonus: M12/13 Formula One engine

For this list we focused on engines developed for road-legal production cars, but we can’t end it without mentioning the most powerful mill BMW created thus far. The M12/13 was a race-spec engine, but it deserves a place in the spotlight simply for being capable of more than 1,000 horsepower. Based on a small four-cylinder unit that BMW first offered in 1962, the M12/13 was developed in 1981 as a 1.5-liter turbo-four. It debuted in Formula One during the 1982 season in a Brabham BT50 and in 1983 is propelled Nelson Piquet to his second drivers’ championship in the sport. The M12/13 remained in use until 1988 and powered known F1 teams such as Arrows, Benetton, and Ligier. F1 cars powered by this engine won nine races and scored 13 additional podiums. The original engine was capable of 640 horsepower during races and of up to 850 horses during qualifying sessions. The 1986 version was claimed to produce a maximum output of 1,400 horsepower, which would make it the most powerful engine ever to race in Formula One.

Ciprian Florea
Ciprian Florea
Senior Editor and Supercar Expert - ciprian@topspeed.com
Ciprian's passion for everything with four wheels (and more) started back when he was just a little boy, and the Lamborghini Countach was still the coolest car poster you could hang on your wall. Ciprian's career as a journalist began long before earning a Bachelor's degree, but it was only after graduating that his love for cars became a profession.  Read full bio
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