Next generation BMW 1 and 3 Series powered by 3 and 4 cylinder engines

Rumors | May 7th, 2009 by 20
4 cylinder petrol engine

Even though this is something we anticipated and talked about for quite some time now, this morning the breaking news in the BMW world were …

Even though this is something we anticipated and talked about for quite some time now, this morning the breaking news in the BMW world were that the German automaker will start using 3-cylinder engines in the next generation BMW 1 Series and the high-volume seller, 3 Series.

According to sources close to BMW, the 3-cylinder engines will power some of the entry level vehicles and smaller mild hybrid platforms. The upcoming BMW Z2 and the new generation 1 Series are the prime candidates for this new direction.  Quoting the same source, these engines are currently in a testing phase and are still about two years away from the launch date.

4 cylinder petrol engine 497x188

The German publication Auto Motor und Sport published today a list of these new engines. Even though we have not yet confirmed them with a second source, we will go ahead and publish them, but keep in mind that things might change along the line.

x16i – 1,35 liters I3, 122hk/190Nm
x18i – 1,35 liters I3, 150hk/220Nm
x20i – 1,35 liters I3, 180hk/260Nm
x23i – 1,80 liters I4, 204hk/300Nm
x25i – 1,80 liters I4, 240hk/350Nm

Of course many of you wonder why would BMW go into this direction, but we have said many times in the past few months: the stricter emission regulation and the need for cleaner technologies, have pushed BMW into a new direction, where efficiency is the key element.

Those engines will also be configured to work with existing and future hybrid technologies which can boost the power. Even though the smaller displacement usually implies less power, BMW is still focused on offering the same sporty performance that made the company famous.

The engines with less cylinders and displacement will make up the performance by being turbocharged.

For those of you that still believe in more power and big engines, BMW will continue to offer their award winning engines, starting with the twin-turbo 6-cylinder and the current V8 turbo engines.

[Source: GCZ and AMS ]

20 responses to “Next generation BMW 1 and 3 Series powered by 3 and 4 cylinder engines”

  1. kafkef says:

    180hk/260Nm from a 1,35L 3 cylinder engine? Holy crap.

  2. Big Pete says:

    Ewwwwww the new 3-series will have more doors than cylinders.

  3. Alvin Wong says:

    @Big Pete:

    I’m sure BMW will find a way to make it just as peppy and fun to drive as they are now.

  4. Doug says:

    A 3-cylinder engine??? That’s downright offensive. A four cylinder can be a great engine because it’s inherently quite balanced. A three cylinder engine is inherently unbalanced, unless you employ balance shafts or some other trick.

    Seriously, I’m really annoyed to hear this. Why don’t they just move to a gas turbine or wankel rotor if they want to get that small?

  5. Giom says:

    I can only guess that, the lower the emissions from your volume products, would alow you to still have big performance low volume products.

    When I last checked, BMW was still the lowest emission car maker in the world -by some margin. Great to know they’re aming for yet lower numbers.

    @Doug: I don’t think this is so offensive. It’s survival in a new world.

  6. haitham says:

    its bmw for gods sake! They knw wht they are doin! Its an option! Ul still have big engines, i thnk its a gr8 step forward from the guys frm munich.

  7. haitham says:

    1.8 240bhp, 340nm! Holy moly! Take that jap fukers!

  8. Elio says:

    I seriously wouldn’t doubt BMW’s ability to make a stunning 3 cylinder engine, they’re one of the best in the game if not THE best.

  9. Mauro Corti says:

    Small turbo engine = less weight = more fun and better efficiency.

    That’s good!

  10. Doug says:

    @Giom: Yes, it’s survival for them, but in changing their strategy they risk losing the qualities that have always made them great.

    What worries me is that BMW also has a history of making decisions like this that were indeed at the expense of their core values and identity. When the E46 came out, it was bigger and heavier in the interest of accommodating american tastes for larger interior space, which dulled the handling. The E90 made the car taller and larger which did really the same thing. While they were probably good decisions for BMW as a business, the 3 would still be a far better handling car today if they’d kept it small, light and low.

    Back to the 3-banger. A 3-cylinder engine (esp diesel) will get excellent mileage (often quoted 70mpg), but the engines have nowhere near the desired characteristics of a “bmw engine”, and are instead better suited to powering an electrical drive system at a constant rpm. We all knew BMW would return to 4-cylinder engines, but those are proven and fundamentally sound designs to achieve these qualities; a 3-cylinder engine is not. It may help BMW achieve its goals, but the question is whether it will sell to enthusiasts of the BMW brand — certainly this will not be the case in the states.

  11. okeribok says:

    Could those be two-strokes? And does HK stand for Hong Kong?

  12. BernardP says:

    Just wait…

    It won’t last for long. Does anyone really believe that BMW won’t put an inline six in the next 3 Series? You could also bet we won’t see the 3 cyl. engine in North America. The 3 Series is available now in Europe with 4 cyl. engines.

  13. uberpanzer says:

    Wow people, READ before you reply. “According to sources close to BMW, the 3-cylinder engines will power SOME of the entry level vehicles…” This does not mean that ONLY these engines will be available. Remember how many engine options were out there world wide for the e21, e30 and e36 3 Series? How many are offered for the 1 Series and e9x? This is leaked info that there will be more engines than just the current I6 and I4 ‘options’. Nowhere did it say ONLY these engines. And a turbo 4 is EXACTLY what some of us Americans want from a new BMW. :)

  14. Scott says:


    Doug, learn your mechanics. An inline 3-cyl engine is inherently perfectly balanced. This is any a BMW inline-6 is also inherently balanced.

    A 4-cyl needs balance shafts or other measures to balance.

    Sorry, but you get a fail on this.

  15. Horatiu B. says:

    Yes guys, there will still be 6 cylinder engines, even V8s, but I do see most of the European models being powered by these entry level engines. I mean, look at them now, most of the bimmers sold there have small displacements.

  16. Doug says:

    @Scott: Please do explain, Scott, so I may not fail again. I always thought that unlike a straight-6, a straight-3 would severely wobble end-to-end unless you use a balance shaft.

  17. Big Pete says:

    I want a twin turbo V8 in the 1 series bitches

  18. BMWPete says:

    O no, please BMW, this can’t be true. Don’t do that to us! A 3-cylinder BMW is only half a BMW. BMW doesn’t belong in the market of Suzuki, Daihatsu, Fiat, etc. BMW means quality, sportivity and driving pleasure. Don’t put your good name at stake, BMW!

  19. Matski says:

    I think people need to stop getting hung up on what they’re used to seeing from BMW, the important thing is not so much WHAT they do, as much as HOW they do it. As long as BMW’s 3 cylinder engine is better than the competition then it will uphold what we’ve come to expect from BMW, they build the best engines!.. and so what if the 116 comes with a three cylinder engine, it won’t change the fact that the 760 has 544hp, and the M3 has a storming NA V8 that revs to 8250rpm, BMW will still be building great cars! I don’t want to see BMW become a dinosaur that clings rigidly to tradition, companies like that won’t survive these days.

  20. Giom says:

    @Matski: Couldn’t have said it beter myself!

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