Klaus Draeger, BMW’s development chief, provided confirmation that future models will feature new turbocharged three-cylinder petrol and diesel engines. In line with BMW’s modular production processes, each engine will have a 1.5-litre capacity and each cylinder is 500cc.
Draeger contradicted statements from other high-level officials, stating that the three-pot engines aren’t intended for the next BMW 3-series, which are expected to be shown off in saloon guise this October and which are set to start selling in the UK in early 2012. In an Autocar interview, Draeger said that this is “not a priority for the 3-series.”
He added that BMW will begin with the front-wheel drive architecture and the “more price-sensitive models.” This refers to the new front-wheel drive platform structure that BMW is working on for the third generation of the present Mini and new entry-level BMW model that is included in the expanded second-generation 1-series lineup.
Draeger disclosed that the petrol version of the engine, known internally as N37, is likely to match the maximum 54bhp-per-cylinder rating of BMW’s recently presented turbocharged 2.0-litre, four-cylinder N20.
This implies that the top-of-the-line versions of the new triple could deliver up to 160bhp. Draeger suggested that the compact powerplant, which will be built at BMW’s Hams Hall factory in the UK, could achieve C02 emissions of 95g/km. However, he declined to say what specific car this rating could be reached.
Draeger explained that the capacity-to-surface-area ratio is the key to the new engine’s efficiency. He said that this ratio is better than any of the carmaker’s existing engines when it comes to thermal performance.
Draeger also denied that three-pot engines are meant to save costs since they’re actually “as hi-tech as our four and six-cylinder engines” and are certainly not cheap.