With the 2012 BMW Z4 sDrive28i, the Munich-based automaker introduces the first four-cylinder engine into the U.S. market. The 2.0L four-cylinder engine will power the ’28i’ badged BMWs and replaces the venerable N52B30 six-cylinder naturally aspirated unit.

Its replacement provides equivalent or better performance, refinement, and smoothness with two fewer cylinders. Like the Z4′s last TwinPower Turbo 3.0-liter turbo inline-6, the new 2.0-liter engine will combine highpressure direct-injection and BMW’s VALVETRONIC intake control. With 240 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque, it offers more power and torque than BMW’s normally aspirated 3.0-liter inline-6 that it replaces in the Z4 sDrive30i.

The 4-cylinder engine with its all-aluminum crankcase is lighter and more compact than a 6-cylinder engine of equivalent power. The turbocharger is a twin-scroll system, a design already seen in other six-cylinder powerplants.

Average fuel consumption for the BMW Z4 sDrive28i in the EU test cycle has improved by an impressive 20 percent.

But does the new 2.0 liter four deliver the same driving experience as its predecessor? Does it impress with its turbo-specific growl? More on that in our upcoming test drive of the 2012 BMW Z4 sDrive28i.

For now, enjoy the beautiful photo gallery from Pacific Coast Highway.