Details Emerge on BMW & MINI\’s 3 Cylinder Powerplant


Our favorite public insider source Scott27 has spilled some details on the three cylinder engine range we ‘ve reported on as the basis of the next 1 series and MINI line-up. While there ‘s no surprising details (we ‘ve already published a first hand account of driving a MINI with the new engine) there are some details leaked.

As expect the engine will also find its way into the X3 and then the 3 Series (eventually the X1 as well). So what should we expect? The new three cylinder will be part of a range of engines utilizing a new common 500cc per cylinder design while also making use of direct-injection and turbo-charging. The combination will create s surprisingly powerful yet lightweight mill that should dispel what we expect out of three cylinder engines.

First the version will show-up in late 2011 in the next generation 1 Series hatch. From there the new F30 3 Series sedan will then get a version following by the X3 shortly afterwards. But it ‘s the 1 Series and MINI that will benefit most of this new range. As we ‘ve previously reported BMW (and MINI) will be bringing several version of the new 3 cylinder to market along with a few larger (and surprisingly powerful) direct-injection turbo-charged four cylinders.

The idea of using 500cc per cylinder in future BMW/MINI engines which will rise from the 1.5 three cylinder all the way up to BMW ‘s largest V8s. The ultimate goal being is to save resources in engine development costs and engine production.

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  • JonPD

    I look nervous into the future of mid-level priced sports cars. The weight savings are great but while vehicles are constantly getting heavier and heavier I do wonder how this will work out. I know BMW will do a great job producing something interesting but figure the massive torque days are numbered.

    Still could be worse though

  • Evan

    I imagine that a powerful, turbocharged I3 will be as powerful if not more so than the current naturally aspirated four cylinder engines found in BMW products. The last 318i sold here was a bit lacking in the torque department for the E36.

    I doubt the entry level three cylinder BMWs will come to our shores. We’ll benefit from the turbocharged four cylinders as the new entry level engines. This tech will be what we will need for emissions and weight needs. Smaller engines with some body weight loss will go a long way for efficiency.

    All of this in mind, I am personally a huge fan of a BMW naturally aspirated, free revving inline six, and do hope I’ll be able to get at least one more 3er with this engine.

  • I can’t see the US market seeing a 3 cylinder in a BMW for quite some time. Most consumers will need to struggle to digest even the proposed 4 cylinders.

    With emissions and fuel economy numbers becoming increasingly important we will see many more of these smaller displacement changes- I am all for it as long as the performance and sound are there.

  • Bob

    First off, BMW is committed to reducing weight in future models. So look for them to get lighter, not heavier. Second, the new goverment CAFE requirements will force BMW and all other manufacturers to put some very fuel efficient cars in thier mix to offset the 7 series size cars. I expect we will see the 3 bangers here sooner rather than later, like it or not.

  • Bob- I was not saying they are not coming, it is not going to happen that soon trust me. MINI will see them first and then the new line BMW will offer (iSetta) and there will be more use of 4 cylinders and diesels with hybrids in the mix as well. MINI will offset the 7 series, with the MegaCity/iSetta offsetting the rest. BMW has to relaunch 4 cylinders in the US before it goes to 3 cylinders, there is a progressive mode to all this. BMW is not going to go from 6 cylinders to 3 cylinders in the next two years, MINI will go from 4 to 3. The 4 cylinders will come in 2011, in the X1 and then other models.

    In the EU things are a bit different.