New BMW 1.5-litre engine revealed

BMW has been at the forefront of the engine downsizing revolution. All M cars will now be turbocharged, the entire 1-Series is powered by forced induction engines and the tri-turbo diesel engine produces huge power from three litres.

Now BMW has revealed the next stage of its efficiency push with a three-cylinder, 1.5-litre engine family. They will power the next-generation Mini Cooper, as well as smaller BMW models such as the 1 and 2 Series, and possibly the 3 Series.

The petrols will produce between 122hp and 224hp and 133 and 177lb ft of torque. The diesels will be offered in various states of tune between 82hp and 184hp. Diesel torque figures range from 166-243lb ft which, from a 1500cc engine with three cylinders, sounds pretty impressive. Expect suitably astounding economy and C02 figures when they emerge.

BMW claims that every derivative of the new 1.5-litre three-pot shares 60% of its components and 40% of its structure, regardless of fuel, massively reducing costs.

It has also introduced a range of technologies to boost efficiency and refinement. These include variable load control, direct injection and, on the petrol versions, Valvetronic variable valve control. BMW has also fitted a torsional vibration damper to reduce the innate vibrations of a three-cylinder engine. It is also promising an "extremely vivacious and sporty" exhaust note.

So, with BMW making the transition to smaller, turbocharged units, is the game up for naturally-aspirated engines? Ford would seem to think so, with the groundbreaking 999cc turbocharged EcoBoost engine set to appear in the next Mondeo. But then manufacturers like Mazda are pursuing more efficient production methods to allow for non forced-induction engines to feature in cars like the upcoming 6. Weight reduction could will also play a key role; you only have to look at the efficiency achieved by Lotus models with fairly low-tech atmospheric powerplants to demonstrate the possibilities of 'adding lightness'.

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  • Hellbound 18 Sep 2012

  • kambites 18 Sep 2012

    Hellbound said:
    Hmm, quite a pleasant noise but it sounds like it's just coming on song when it changes up. Disappointingly low reving for a petrol.

  • After_Shock 18 Sep 2012

    Heard a while back they had this 3 pot running reliably at 280bhp using a few turbos!

  • Terminator X 18 Sep 2012

    Find it all very depressing as it's not cars causing "climate change" frown


  • jbi 18 Sep 2012

    as if BMW's weren't already expensive enough to fix when they go wrong.

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