Four Cylinders Make a Comeback

As BMWNA prepares for Monday ‘s relaunch of four cylinder motors in the US we wonder how the mainstream press and consumers will react.

You have to go back to mid-nineties ill received 318ti to find a four cylinder that made it across the Atlantic. By the time the 318ti came to market the US was in a state of relative prosperity and consumers wanted more. More refinement, more power and more luxury.

The 318ti was in a way the opposite of everything the more is more consumer wanted. BMW missed with the 318ti and so went the idea of hatch backs and four cylinders for the US market.

As fuel prices soar north of $4 a gallon in most areas of the country and with more stringent requirements for emissions being established BMW has seen the writing on the wall. They are bringing smaller displacement (and cylinder count) engines to the finicky US market.

This new family of engines, boosted by turbo charging and direct injection technologies is to offer the same level of performance as the current generation of inline sixes. They will be smaller, lighter, and more fuel efficient. Unlike BMW ‘s last four cylinder US offering they will not be a concession to the “Ultimate Driving Machine ” but rather augment that tag line nicely by adding increased “Efficient Dynamics ” to the mix.

With European customers and reviewers already enjoying these four cylinders in less sporty models such as the X1, it seems fitting that the US will, like with the re-introduction of the “IS ” moniker, seea sporty roadster as the groundbreaking vehicle.

Other brands in the luxury segment, namely Audi, have been selling turbo fours stateside with success so we do not foresee this change as a negative from a sales view. It is about time the US buyer had a chance to see what the rest of the world has been enjoying for years, the engine that BMW based its corporate headquarters on, the four cylinder engine. We are excited to have a smaller, lighter engine and all the benefits of it.

Sure we ‘ll miss the free revving inline six, but those will remain on the used market for decades. It seems that BMW is continuing it ‘s trend of getting back to its roots, first the 1///M and now four cylinders stateside, let ‘s hope the trend continues.

Now, how about some of those fuel sipping four cylinder diesels?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
  • Adam

    Survival in its modern form. As the owner of a 6-cyl Infiniti I can say I’d rather it be my weekend car rather than city run around, expecially with prices here in Chicago getting closer to $4.30 a gallon for premuim. I dont see any negative in a 4-cyl BMW which gets near 40 MPG and can reach over 200 horsepower. The straight 6 may have been bread and butter but in this time in the world, with the economy and fuel prices, it might become a sweet treat (pardon the horrible analgy).

  • Adam

    Survival in its modern form. As the owner of a 6-cyl Infiniti I can say I’d rather it be my weekend car rather than city run around, expecially with prices here in Chicago getting closer to $4.30 a gallon for premuim. I dont see any negative in a 4-cyl BMW which gets near 40 MPG and can reach over 200 horsepower. The straight 6 may have been bread and butter but in this time in the world, with the economy and fuel prices, it might become a sweet treat (pardon the horrible analgy).

  • RKCA

    Yeah how about some of the fuel sipping 4cylinder turbo diesels? I would like to again inform bmw to bring the 123d to the US and in hatch back form.

    • Mike Olivera

      Agreed. We need the great economical 4-cylinder BMW diesels in the US — come BMW, bring it!

  • Sawbones

    In Canada we have the turbo 4 9in the X1, and I have to say, I was really impressed. The twin scroll does have a slight touch of lag over the twin turbo 6, but it had lots of pull, and of course the mileage is fantastic.

  • Sawbones

    In Canada we have the turbo 4 9in the X1, and I have to say, I was really impressed. The twin scroll does have a slight touch of lag over the twin turbo 6, but it had lots of pull, and of course the mileage is fantastic.

  • Anonymous

    counter-balance shafts have made 4s nearly as silky smooth as inline 6s. I think nothing is lost here – the 6 will move up the product range – its the V8 that will become scarce

  • goat

    Glad BMW is bringing an I4 to the USA/Canadian market. Audi has made the business case VERY successfully that a decent and torquey turbo-four is more than sufficient motivation for the entry level premium market. They sell like mad up here and few complain about the relative roughness of the 2.0T compared with BMW’s N52 (the smoothness of the BMW I6 is easily discernible to an enthusiast, but I suspect majority of shoppers who are speccing a slushbox don’t notice the difference – ironic, because with a slushbox is where the 2.0T feels at its worst from an NVH perspective). BMW’s turbo-four intended for the next F30 will actually be better suited to daily driving because of the increase in useful torque… torque is where the A4 2.0T has the 328i and 328xi bimmers beat hands-down.

    As for the 318ti: the 1.8L I4 was a very decent motor… smooth to rev, reasonably powerful, a great “cammy sound” (it was sold in Canada in the 318 sedan variant as well). The 318ti was a great 3-series variant in my opinion. I think overly ambitious pricing killed it more than execution or the hatchback body style… the car was MUCH more expensive than the coupes that it was typically cross-shopped against (FWD Corrado VR6, AWD Diamond-Star turbo twins, RWD Nissan 240SX). It also had the worst “feeling” stock handling of the bunch… body roll galore and wheel hop from the rear suspension are what I recall from a test drive. Handling was “easily fixed” by speccing the M-sport package which IIRC was a $5K option – a huge price jump in Canada in the early 90’s and at that point well beyond even VW’s overpriced Corrado VR6. But you still see some well-kept 318ti’s with the M-sport pack now and again up here and it is a lovely tidy little machine… much more desirable than its competition at the time (with the possible exception of the Corrado VR6 which has maintained a well-deserved cult following even after all these years).

  • goat

    Glad BMW is bringing an I4 to the USA/Canadian market. Audi has made the business case VERY successfully that a decent and torquey turbo-four is more than sufficient motivation for the entry level premium market. They sell like mad up here and few complain about the relative roughness of the 2.0T compared with BMW’s N52 (the smoothness of the BMW I6 is easily discernible to an enthusiast, but I suspect majority of shoppers who are speccing a slushbox don’t notice the difference – ironic, because with a slushbox is where the 2.0T feels at its worst from an NVH perspective). BMW’s turbo-four intended for the next F30 will actually be better suited to daily driving because of the increase in useful torque… torque is where the A4 2.0T has the 328i and 328xi bimmers beat hands-down.

    As for the 318ti: the 1.8L I4 was a very decent motor… smooth to rev, reasonably powerful, a great “cammy sound” (it was sold in Canada in the 318 sedan variant as well). The 318ti was a great 3-series variant in my opinion. I think overly ambitious pricing killed it more than execution or the hatchback body style… the car was MUCH more expensive than the coupes that it was typically cross-shopped against (FWD Corrado VR6, AWD Diamond-Star turbo twins, RWD Nissan 240SX). It also had the worst “feeling” stock handling of the bunch… body roll galore and wheel hop from the rear suspension are what I recall from a test drive. Handling was “easily fixed” by speccing the M-sport package which IIRC was a $5K option – a huge price jump in Canada in the early 90’s and at that point well beyond even VW’s overpriced Corrado VR6. But you still see some well-kept 318ti’s with the M-sport pack now and again up here and it is a lovely tidy little machine… much more desirable than its competition at the time (with the possible exception of the Corrado VR6 which has maintained a well-deserved cult following even after all these years).