The DME still seems like the curse of the platform. This swayed my decision to start with an M in 2008. I am glad I did.
I think Bigjae made an excellent choice. Plenty of excellent tuners to choose from with complete control, easy to work on, and plenty reliable when setup properly.
Don't believe the hype!
This from a small block domestic v-8 noobie as I have been called around these parts. ALL of these S54 "issues" you mentioned can be dealt with in a weekend of work and you can "fuggedaboutit." Stand on that S54 at redline all day long worthy.
-upgraded hub (cryo'ed Dr. Vanos or TurboToy - you choose)
That's a $1000 of parts and a weekend, if you're wife will free you.
$2500-$3000 if you cannot DIY. The work is easy.
Remember, there are almost 50,000 S54 powered M3's around the US. The catastrophic "OMG" occurrence rate is not high. I have faith you can do the math yourself.
My car is at 100k today. She began life as a lease lease turn in with 15k mile OIC (
) and 38k miles in 2008 before I got it. Bearing recall fun and all.
The decade-old fragile S54 dyno'ed 312/246 SAE to the wheels last week at 5,800 ft elevation. On winter-blend 91 octane crap (that is all we get in Denver area).
What's my point... don't believe the S54 hype. Especially if you can turn a wrench!