A couple of brilliant pieces of engineering have come out of the BMW M headquarters over the years, as any Bimmer fan will tell you. It’s not just fanatic BMW enthusiasts that find certain engines brilliant but independent journalists too and random gear heads. Among those you’ll find the people over at Autocar. The British magazine recently put together a list of the world’s greatest engines and BMW is up there among the best with not one but two mills.
Out of the entire list, only two manufacturers have managed to slip two engines in there: BMW and Volkswagen. The Volkswagen cars chosen are truly special. One of them is the W8 engine on the B5 Passat, a marvel of ingenuity and truly an experience to drive. The other is the 3.2-liter V6 used on the Golf V R32, yet another unicorn that shouldn’t have existed in the first place. From the Bavarian side of things you’ll find the S54 and the S85 engines.
According to Autocar, the S54 was “one of the sweetest and freest revving straight-sixes of all time” and I can’t help but agree. As for the S85 V10 they praise the construction of the thing, with 10 electronically-actuated individual throttle bodies, high-spec Mahle pistons and the quasi-dry sump lubrication that made headlines back in the day. To complete the package, the block and heads were made at the same foundry as BMW’s Formula 1 engines, as the Germans were still involved in the motorsport back then.
If it was up to me, I’d add another engine on this list and that would be the M88/1. This was the iconic straight six mill that made its debut under the sheet metal of the BMW M1. It’s not just this particular fact that makes it worthy of belonging on this list but also the fact that it was used as a basis for countless other iconic mills over the years and it was put together by the one and only Paul Rosche.