THREE-CYLINDER engines will become increasingly important for BMW as it looks to reduce emissions and fuel use.
The German prestige brand says it will start rolling out the 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo engine, first used in the Mini, across other models, including possibly the 1-Series, X1, X3 and top-selling 3-Series.
At the same time, though, BMW says it will continue to produce V8s and V12s to satisfy Middle East- and US-led demand for high-performance engines.
Speaking at the launch of the new 2 Series Active Tourer in Austria – the first BMW to be fitted with a three-cylinder engine – BMW product communications manager Kai Lichte said the three-cylinder would become more prevalent on upcoming models.
“If you see the output of the engine and compare it with our existing portfolio you can see where it makes sense [to use the three-cylinder],” said Lichte.
With 100kW and 220Nm, the 1.5-litre triple cylinder matches the output of the 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo currently used in some BMWs, including the 116i and 316i.
There’s also a 1.2-litre version of the three-cylinder that puts out a more modest 75kW and 180Nm, although that’s less likely to find its way into BMWs sold in Australia.
Without confirming it, Lichte hinted the three-cylinder would likely soon be fitted to an updated version of the 3-Series, providing a new entry-level version of BMW’s top selling vehicle.
He said the strategy to introduce more fuel-efficient engines was to better meet customer expectations, as well as help meet future regulations.
“The more small cars we sell the more big cars we are allowed to sell, at least in Europe,” said Lichte, referring to regulations that encourage car makers to sell more fuel-miserly vehicles.