BMW M cars moving towards turbo four and six cylinder engines

BMW M3 | March 19th, 2009 by 22
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A topic going around the web this morning is a report from Motor Trend on BMW’s M Sport division and their plants to move towards …

A topic going around the web this morning is a report from Motor Trend on BMW’s M Sport division and their plants to move towards four and six cylinder turbo engines.

If you’re a loyal reader of our blog, then you might recall that back in November, we reported similar news regarding BMW’s decision to steer away from the large naturally-aspirated engines and replace them across the M line with turbo engines.

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MotorTrend talks about the new M cars coming out in 2014 with the first turbo engines, but that’s a bit of a misconception. The first M models to be powered only by turbo engines, in this case the twin-turbo ones, are the X5 M and X6 M which will be unveiled next month.

The so rumored BMW 135i Supersports, an M1-like model, is  being confirmed once again, as a car that will be placed below the M3.

We are working on it, but only as business cases are concerned, as solutions are concerned. Because you’re looking at a car in the neighborhood of 1300 kilos (about 2860 pounds, roughly equal to a VW GTI). And you would need at least 300 horsepower. I would love to have a car like that in our range. It would also be a good thing to get the interest of younger customers again.

The long time rumored turbo four-cylinder engines are definitely coming.

How far along is a turbo M four cylinder? “At the very beginning. This would mean a twin turbo four cylinder in a car that is below the M3. This would only be a story for the next 1 Series, so you’d be looking at 2014 or so.”

Rumors are that BMW has not decided yet is if the new engines will be inline-six or the more popular V6 engines, but of course, take this with a grain of salt. According to Ludwig Willisch, BMW’s M division CEO, the new M3 will have a wider body, similar to the platform of the new 3 Series.

Of course, the use of a twin-turbo engine will add more weight to a car that has been criticized of growing in size with each generation, but Herr Willisch doesn’t seem to be too worried.

Engines don’t need to be more powerful for the next car. As long as you have lighter weight, you have better performance

But in the end, BMW seems to be seriously considering the V6 option since it gives them the possibility to move the engines further downwards providing a better balance and weight distribution.

Metrics and intensive testing will decide the faith of the new M engines, and either an inline-six or V6 option, will provide the customers with the desired outcome: a high-performance, fun to drive BMW.

Even though we covered in the past many of the things published by MotorTrend, I encourage to head over and read the full article, it’s a nice refresher and comprehensive article.

[Source: MotorTrend via Autoblog ]

22 responses to “BMW M cars moving towards turbo four and six cylinder engines”

  1. Gragop says:

    The reduction in weight and lower cylinder for similar power engines sound great. The switch to a V6 from an inline6? heart breaking.

  2. Jordan says:


    couldn’t agree more. and the weight reduction i think is huge. hp increases are not bad but weight reduction has benefits EVERYWHERE, performance, emissions, fuel economy, etc.

    and ya… they should stick to the inline 6 if it is a 6 cyl engine.

  3. Elio says:

    They have to stick to an inline 6. It’s a trademark.

  4. Matski says:


    The Original M3, the E30, was a 4 cyl.
    The 2002 Turbo (maybe the first ‘M’ car?) was a 4 with a Turbo
    The F1 Drivers championship winning Brabham BT52 was a 4 with a Turbo
    The BMW HQ in Munich is ‘the Four Cylinder building’

    Although I don’t like the idea of smaller engines that much, there is nothing here that goes against BMW’s roots.

    Bring ’em on I say.

  5. Matski says:

    @Matski: Exept of course the V6 thing, yeah, I’m not huge on that one

  6. Gord says:

    I remember watching the X6/X5 M teaser videos, and remember then talking about a whole bunch of systems and stuff. Those systems and that fact that cars are getting bigger are why cars are getting heavy today.

    I see it as hard to make cars lighter, unless they use exotic materials which are expensive.

    The article doesn’t actually explicitly state that the M3 will be less powerful so I wonder just how much power there will be. A 3.6L I6 from Porsche is twin turboed and makes almost 500 hp. Nissan also have a V6 of similar configuration that makes around 500 hp too. The Bugatti EB110 from the 90’s had a 3.5L V12 with 4 turbos that made 600 hp.

    Won’t there be turbo-lag too ?

  7. L1ndja says:

    Ok there are expenses,fuel prices are getting worse,and yes the envirement isnt getting better as well so ok use smaller engines on family cars on the standards but not in the M-cars it is just heart breaking to se M-cars with turbo engines.There isnt any reason to make M-cars fuel efficient or better for the envirement they are cars that dont care about such things and the costumers who buy them aren either.Oh and the fact about a V6 engine just makes it worse.The inline 6 is a the symbol of BMW how can they even consider changing it.Bmw these days is starting to suck.All this automatization of theyre cars, it isnt what it used to bee.There are more cars with automatic transmision than with Manual.I just hate this…What is the next thing waiting for us BMW-fans?Frontwheeldrive ?omg…

  8. Cereb says:

    PLEASE NO V6! What comes next? Front wheel drive?

  9. Doug says:

    I can’t picture a V6. They’re mechanically more complex with 2 head/cam assemblies and end up taking much more space because of the dual exhaust/intake (plus any turbocharging). I’m not certain, but I’d seriously bet they’re heavier too. And, despite being longer, they’re narrower, so you can wedge them much further back toward the passenger compartment (which they do).

    BMW has already invested a huge amount of money in the current I6 which apparently has plenty of headroom. Unless they are buying engines from Merc maybe, and can avoid R&D costs.

    An article about Merc’s switch to V6:

  10. Doug says:

    I can’t picture a V6. They’re mechanically more complex with 2 head/cam assemblies and end up taking much more space because of the dual exhaust/intake (plus any turbocharging), and I’d suspect heavier too. Plus, you can’t wedge them as far back into center console as you could an inline.

    BMW has already invested a huge amount of money in the current I6 which apparently has plenty of headroom. Would they buy engines from Merc, and can avoid R&D costs?

    An article about Merc’s switch to V6:

  11. kcsnayud says:



  12. @Doug: aside from the costs of a new engine line-up, I think BMW is too well known for the smoothness of a higher revving inline 6 compared to a more lumpy, higher displacement V6. Honestly, the smoothness in the revs is one characteristic of my car that I really appreciate the most coupled with the throaty exhaust – though not as loud as a V6 noise, I still love it.

    It would be a pretty big fall if BMW moved to V6’s – please don’t do it Bavaria!

  13. Nick Iliff says:

    Truly tragic that they are going to get rid of the V10 in the 5/6 series. I love their inline 6, so I think that’s fine for the M3. The V10 in my M5, though, is absolutely exquisite. It’s not like the next M5 could be that much better of a car. The only things they could really do are make it lighter and more powerful in my opinion, and it’s already got plenty of power and I don’t mind the weight. Sure, with a twin turbo V8 I bet it could be modified to 600-700hp pretty easily but unless it’s AWD that is just a waste of time.

  14. Nick Iliff says:

    And I can’t believe BMW would even consider a V6. No way. They would have a serious PR issue among BMW fans if they did that.

  15. Nick Iliff says:

    @Gord: Yikes! The Porsche is not an inline 6. It’s a flat 6.

  16. Gragop says:

    @Nick Iliff:
    I wondered if anyone else would catch the flat 6 thing too!

  17. Doug says:

    Not to go too far off topic, but what is the real benefit of a V6? It seems to be mainly to mount it transverse for a front-wheel drive car.

  18. Gord says:

    @Nick Iliff:

    Opps my bad. :)

  19. Horatiu B. says:

    @Doug, I apologize, not sure why your comment went to SPAM, but I approved it now.

  20. Damien says:

    Please BMW… I beg of you… NO V6 or FWD PLEASE!

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