With all the attention the sporty and sexier 1 has been getting it is no surprise that the ugly duckling named BMW Advanced Diesel with BluePerformance has been pushed to the side. Aside from another long name from those at BMW marketing this could be the best thing to hit the US shores in a long while. We are not here to preach conservation (though it is a great thing!) argue about what is better: diesel, E85 (not a chance), Hybrid, hydrogen or something else. We are here to talk about how BMW is going to implement a 50 state approved engine, lessened emissions while increasing efficiency and still managed to make performance strides.

The history of BMW diesels begins in the early 1980’s, the diesel in the 524td was viewed as the fastest diesel in the world. It was, as all other diesels, noisy, smelly and did we mention noisy? Twenty-five years have passed since then and a good deal of BMW research and use of technology has steadily improved the diesel engine. Much of the world has embraced these engines for their efficiency and overall performance but we in the US have had a difficult time getting those 1980’s Mercedes Benz and BMW smokers out of our minds. In Europe BMW sells more than 67% of all cars with one of a variety of diesel engines; that is right over half sold do not run on gas.

With rising gas prices and the US finally utilizing the low sulfur diesel fuels the rest of the world has used for years BMW has decided (along with several other German brands) to release them to the US market sometime later in the year. We will only see one engine initially and it will be available only in the 3 series sedan and the X5.

The engine powering these will be the stump pulling, award winning 3.0 liter variable twin turbo engine. It has about the same amount of horsepower a current gas engine would produce with mind boggling torque and is 25-30% more efficient: 265 hp and 425 lb/ft @1750 RPM.

As part of the Efficient Dynamics program this engine has been designed from the ground up to contribute to the overall efficiency of the vehicles. It has been designed using an aluminum crankcase, to decrease weight and not hamper overall driving dynamics. The piezo injectors that are part of the 3rd generation common rail system are designed to deliver precise quantities of fuel for performance and efficiency.
Unlike its cousin, the N54 twin turbo gas engine, which uses both turbos simultaneously, this diesel benefits from variable and sequential boost. The smaller turbo spins up fast due to its low inertia (like the N54) then as engine speed increases the larger turbo kicks in its’ share of boost.

To deal with the emissions obstacles of diesel engines BMW utilizes a particulate filter, an oxidation catalyst and an SCR (Selective Catalytic Reaction) catalyst with urea injection being marketed as AdBlue. This reduces the levels of pollutants to a minimal level (less than gasoline engines in some instances). The urea injection system is used to reduce nitrous oxides (NOx) through a chemical reaction into environmentally friendly nitrogen and water vapor.

The urea injection system is comprised of two tanks, a dosage pump, some plumbing between them and the exhaust manifold. The smaller 1.6 gallon active tank and dosage lines are heated to prevent temperatures below 12˚ F from freezing the liquid. The 4.5 gallon passive (extra storage) tank is not heated. Depending on the application the tanks may be located in the rear of the car or in/near the engine bay (X5).

The size of the tanks should only require additional fluid when the vehicle requires an oil change. BMW is including the price for the refills of the AdBlue as part of the BMW maintenance program for 4 year 50K miles.

The real question is whether the increase in the purchase price of the vehicles will make the savings at the pump worthwhile. Pricing out diesel fuel locally today it was the same price as premium 93 octane gas, so by being 25% more efficient one would hope to see some savings at the pump and not lessen performance or driving pleasure.

It is also worth noting that this entire “Blue” nonsense is part of a larger marketing scheme BMW, MB, Audi, VW and several other manufacturers came up with to promote the new breed of diesel engines. All it really does is make things longer to say, write and read. Audi and VW recently went back to what they know best and what has previously proven to be successful: TDI.

We are looking forward to driving this engine stateside even though there will be no available manual transmissions.

As always we look forward to your comments.