BMW Four-Cylinder Engine

BMW has not sold a model in the U.S. with a four-cylinder since the 1998 Z4. This is about to change as the German automaker has revealed plans to introduce a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. The engine is slated to appear in a wide range of North American models, including its upcoming compact SUV, the X1.

The turbocharged four-cylinder engine is an indirect replacement for the least powerful of BMW’s 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engines, which produces 240 horsepower in several 2011 models. The engine will make its public debut in the BMW X1 xDrive28i at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2011. However, that X1 model is not set to go on sale in the U.S. until early 2012.

BMW’s turbocharged four-cylinder engine produced a reported 242 horsepower along with an impressive 258 lb-ft of torque. The engine is expected to propel the X1 from 0 to 60 in 6.1 seconds with a top speed of 149 miles per hour with a standard six-speed manual. The engine will be quicker and more fuel-efficient than the current entry-level inline six engine. Other models expected to get the turbocharged four-cylinder include the BWW 1-seriers, Z4, and next generation 3-series.

The move toward smaller engines is being seen across the automotive industry. Turbocharging allows the engine to produce significant power but get better fuel economy than a normally aspirated larger engine. Ford has adopted the EcoBoost turbocharged four-cylinder and six-cylinder engines across much of its product line. The EcoBoost engine has replaced the V-8 option in models such as the Ford Explorer.

Another German automaker is also reportedly moving towards four-cylinder engines, Porsche. Porsche has not offered a model with a four-cylinder engine in decades in the U.S. Autocar is reporting that Porsche is working on a new four-cylinder engine it would use on its less expensive models such as the Boxster, Cayman, and upcoming Porsche Cajun. It remains to be seen whether Porsche develops a new four-cylinder engine in house or borrows from the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine currently used by Volkswagen and Audi.

On a side note, Porsche is looking to up its production capacity for the compact Cajun SUV model. Its parent company, the Volkswagen Group has ambitious sales targets of 150,000 units for the Porsche brand. Added capacity would help allow Porsche to achieve its goal, which would require a 50% increase in sales.

Porsche is considering new plants in China and the U.S. to increase capacity. The Audi Q5, from which the Cajun is based, is already being built in China for the Chinese market. The Audi brand is quite popular in China, the world’s largest auto market. Having plants in China allow foreign automakers to avoid a costly import tax, which would otherwise put them at a competitive disadvantage against locally built models.

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