BMW and Mercedes both working on three-cylinder petrol engines

Interesting | August 2nd, 2009 by 16
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Some of the most interesting BMW news in the last few months revolved around BMW’s future plans to build three-cylinder engines which will power the …

Some of the most interesting BMW news in the last few months revolved around BMW’s future plans to build three-cylinder engines which will power the next generation 1 and 3 Series. The 3-cylinder engines will power some of the entry level vehicles and smaller mild hybrid platforms, including the BMW Z2.

Back in May, we learned that these engines are currently in a testing phase and are still about two years away from the launch date. BMW sources have told Autocar that the next 1-series has been engineered to cope with the unique noise, vibration and harshness of a three-cylinder engine, all characteristics of this type of engine.

BMW already has experience with this technology which has been used in its Motorcycle division.

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Autocar UK reports that Mercedes-Benz is working on three-cylinder turbocharged unites as well which will make their way into the C-Class models. “A three-cylinder engine in the C-class is quite conceivable,” said Daimler’s board member in charge of R&D, Dr Thomas Weber.

While BMW’s three cylinder 1.35-liter engine is rumored to output anywhere from 122 to 180 horsepower and 162 lb-ft (220Nm) of torque, Merecedes-Benz talks about a 1.2-liter three-cylinder turbo engine with 168 horsepower and 150-185 lb-ft (203-250Nm) of torque.

These engines with less cylinders and displacement from both automakers will make up the performance by being turbocharged.

BMW plans to release their three-cylinder engine within two years, most likely coinciding with the new generation 1 Series. Merecedes-Benz told Autocar that the first three-cylinder powerplant from them will go on sale in the next four to five years.

[Source: Autocar ]

16 responses to “BMW and Mercedes both working on three-cylinder petrol engines”

  1. viper says:

    this sucks……

  2. I aggree! A bmw must have at least 150 hourse power in 2010 in standard!

  3. Derek says:

    If they can keep them up near the 168-180hp numbers, this doesn’t seem like too bad of an idea for a nice commuter car. However, they would need to strip a lot of the useless weight off of the cars (or at least give us the option to), so they are much lighter than the current 1 and 3s. More of a momentum car like the E30. Sadly, I don’t believe they are doing this to build a nice momentum car. Another result of the War on Speed… :(

    • Doug says:

      Don’t forget that this greatly reduces the engine weight and its cooling system (and others), so you have gains right there. With half the torque, you can have a much lighter transmission as well, so you could potentially save 400lbs from this move, which may offset the lowered performance. The weight distribution is improved as well, so maybe some gains in handling.

      I’d never buy this either, honestly, because of the smoothness and noise. Horatiu posted about BMW considering 3-cyls a while back and there was a debate about the smoothness of that engine versus 4 and 6. Apparently, a 4-stroke 3-cylinder engine requires a balance shaft to smooth it out (but a 2-stroke 3-banger does not, and a 4-stroke 6 does not, and it’s optional with a 4-stroke 4).

      It’s unlikely to be 2-stroke, though, but I am wondering if this is a diesel like VW’s current engine.

  4. Vitric says:

    They’re just trying to expand their consumer base, which is something any company would be interested in.

    • Derek says:

      Agreed, but at some point they need to speak to their current customers before they just replace their current customers with new customers. You only expand your customer base if you keep your current customers and add new customers.

      I don’t mind them expanding the brand into newer markets, but it seems like they are starting to do it at the expense of their current enthusiasts. Even though I am a BMW fanatic, I would shop more than BMW if I were looking for a new car right now. I wouldn’t have said the same thing a couple years ago.

  5. jkp says:

    Who on earth said they were replacing their current customer lineup? I really think some of the posters here are getting worried about nothing.

  6. wazon says:

    Derek, why do you talk about replacing current customers? In BMW offert there are a lot of cars that satisfy current customer’s demand even in more effective way than their previous counterprarts. You have to agree that each model is better to hadling and offer more in terms of luxury and performace than its previous. If someone “fall in love” with BMW because of driving experience that it gives, she or he will find more joy in most of current models. Introducing 3 and 4 cylinders turbocharges engine might lurk some people who are searching performance but are afraid of too big capacity. Here in Europe most of cars had under 2000ccm capacity and people usually are sceptical toward engines above 2000ccm because of their believe that difference in fuel consumption is big and bacause of tax difference (in my country you have to pay 3,1 % of nominal worth for cars up to 1999ccm and 18% of nominal worth for cars from 2000ccm). “Proponents” of small engines as potential customers actually turn to VW’s cars with 1.4 litre turbo or similar. Recently BMW indeed has nothing special to offer for them and it’s well known that 316i and 318i don’t provide too much fun. But program of making 3 and 4 cylinders turbocharched engines can only change this situation on better for BMW’s selling statistics. BMW will provide pretty good cars for people who want to have small engine car. 1.3 litre with 170PS sounds better than 1.6 litre with 122PS. Btw, I still wonder why there is still no 1-er and 3-er with 1.6 turbo from Mini S. It would make 316 only more attractive to some European customers.

    • Derek says:

      I guess I just see them heading down the road where “The Ultimate Driving Machine” is just a tag line and no longer truly represents the cars themselves.

      I will give you that the new models will out handle the old, but much of that has to do with advances in technology and not a company direction. Bringing “more luxury” into the picture is part of the problem. If I wanted a large, luxurious, comfortable German car I would go buy a Mercedes. I buy BMW for the driving experience, not the cushy seats and cup holders.

      When it comes to performance, obviously they have more horsepower and torque, but those aren’t the only numbers that make up performance. What about weight? Where does a momentum car fall into performance? Aren’t BMW enthusiasts different that the typical muscle car lover? Wouldn’t you rather throw the back end out a bit through the corner than burn rubber at the stop light? I just don’t seem them building cars anymore to really be driven. Call me old fashioned, but I’ll keep my manual seats.

      Let’s go back to the BMW of old where ///M actually meant motorsport.

      • wazon says:

        Well, I consider BMW as luxury cars eighter which in addtion take advantage over MB because of their driving characteristics. Do you really think that 5-er e34, e39, e60 are less luxurious than MB E – respectively – W124, W210 and W211? I think that they are quite comparable. Poeple thinks in terms of luxury about BMW eighter. Someone who buy 730d or 520i has to be focused more on luxury than performance.

        Brand new BMWs has not only more power and torgue, but you can simply feel that they are better handling eigher. Race tracks times confirm only that new cars has better performance: where was 330i e46 and where is 330i e90. Similar goes for each serie and each model.

        They cannot back to origins of ///M, simply beacuse expectation of ///M brand’s customers are different than will of having as light as possible car without A/C, radio and maybe even back seat that will rule out on the track. Actually, they are aimed on something different: fast car that they can comfortable drive on regular road with sportive performance. I heard of statistics that average owner of BMW M spend less than two week per year on race track. It only confirm that CSL is not that average BMW M’s customer want. Since AMG is main rival, BMW had to provide for their customers all staffs that MB offer in their cars. Otherwise BMW would’t be so attractive for average customer. Morover, each car has to satisfy safety standards which means that it has to take on the board more and more heavy technology. Despite this pragmatic constarint putting on M cars, they are still getting only better and better. I prefer M3 e92 over M3 e46 (excluding CSL, which is awesome). M3 e46 was/is great car, but it’s shade by M3 e92 performance without doubt. Similar goes for comparision of M5e39 and M5e60. The last one is not even much heavier than previous. And recent era is getting to be even more excited. It’s rumored that X6 M made Nurburgring in less than 8 minutes. If this is true, think how good gonna M5 F10 be. It terms of performace each new generation of BMW is big achievement when compared with previous one.

        And Ultimate Driving Machine: I think that if presence of 316i (0 – 62mph: e30 = 12,1 sec.; e36 = 12,7 sec.; e46 = 12,4 sec.; e90 = 10,8 sec.) on European market didn’t demage utlimate driving machine image, neighter 1.3 nor 1.6 engine for 1-er and 3-er will do it eighter. This image comes from such cars as M and top models of each serie and all of them are getting better. As I understand this slogan it stress essence of what M3 and M5 are: Car that you can comfortable drive with 3 additional adult persons on board and after that you can go on race track and go head to head with cars that seems to be more sportly inclined. Absence of rough cars with which M started won’t harm it. Even if Ultimately Driving Machine meant something different at the start, right now it seems to mean just what M5 is, i.e. sport sedan (or saloon, as we call it in Europe). What is ultimate seems to depend on expectation concerning what features car should have.

        • Horatiu B. says:

          Great reply. I’m considering making this an entire article since you touched some of the best point we’ve been making for a while. Let me know if you think it’s a good idea

          • wazon says:

            Feel free, Horatiu. Do modifications in content and grammatics (since I’m not english native) at will.

        • Derek says:

          I agree with Haratiu, excellent reply.

          To start, of course the 5s and 7s are going to be luxurious. They are the luxury models BMW puts out, and as I have said before, I don’t think BMW needs to build every car for me. I’m not opposed to them building cars to broaden their reach. But step back and look at where they are going. We no longer hear about them looking into a high reving 4cyl to put in the 1 and 3 series cars. Instead we are hearing about a fuel effecient 3cyl to go into the 1s and 3s. Sounds more like a Honda or Toyota than The Ultimate Driving Machine to me.

          Better performance is always going to come with time. The next generation model will always beat times around the Ring and that is just technology. It is the heart and soul that BMW is losing. You said it right when you talked about why ///M cant be the ///M of old anymore. The customers have changed. And that is exactly what I am talking about. BMW customers have changed. And with these changes, they are going to lose customers, like myself, that want the ///M of old. What I am saying is do both BMW. Reach out to new customers, but don’t forget how you got where you are. Just give me the option to have a bare, no frills, manual seat, no iDrive, sub 3000lbs, high reving, gas guzzling 1 Series.

          • wazon says:

            Derek, I totally understand your point. It would be great, if BMW had M3 CSL and – let me call them – 325si, 330si and 335si (sharing features with high reving 320si (which production was demanded by WTCC)) in offert without numbers limits. Although I wouldn’t buy such cars, it would be great to know that I could, if I had more money. Actually, I safed my 328i e34 as my second car and did in it some modification aiming in cut some mass. Car bacame more than originally was but it’s what I like in it a lot. It’s always ready to go on track.

            On the other hand, I cannot resist current models’ charm. M3 e92 is so great that it’s hard to find better car in its segment. I think even that this car is saving what you call “M soul”. I love high rev. V10 form M5 and all car eighter. Just look how traditional M5 e60 seems to be in comparision with RS6 C6. Its heart still is naturally aspired as most of cars coming from M brand. This doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate twin-turbo technology applied by BMW. It’s hard to say “No” to torgue from the lowest rev. in 335i. Similar goes for rather unknown in US 335d, this car combine performance with something that most people expect from diesels – efficiency. Believe or not, but it can drink only 7,5 litre of diesel/100km (in US terms 30 miles per galon) and offering 330PS (little chip tunning). New 4.4 V8 twin-turbo seems to be really exciting. I can’t wait to drive car with it. New 8 gear box in 760i seems to be good step toward lighter M5. After all, it is of 6 gear box mass and size. I believe that something similar we will find in M5 F10 plus lighter materials and smaller engine. Rumors that M5 F10 will drop some weight become more and more plausible. That would be great research that I cannot ignore when I think about car. Maybe all electronical stuffs don’t bother me so much, because usually I don’t pay to them to much attention. One think that I hate in modern BMW is hard top. It’s only waste of power from their great engines. Soft top looked even better IMO.

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