BMW Details 4-Cylinder Diesel, 3-Banger Gas Engines

Are four and three the new inline six?

WOODCLIFF LAKE, New Jersey – The new 2.0-liter turbodiesel in BMW’s upcoming 2014 328d will be priced between the 328i twin-turbo four and the turbo I-6 335i when it goes on sale in the U.S. later this year. The diesel four will be available in the 3-series sedan with both rear- and all-wheel-drive, and in the 3-series wagon only with AWD, BMW says. It looks as if BMW, the automaker best known for its smooth, inline six-cylinder engines, is ready to make the diesel, which is rated 180 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque, a mainstream engine in its bestselling sport sedan.

BMW estimates a 0-60 mph time in the low-seven-second range and predicts highway fuel mileage in the 40s, possibly as much as 45 mpg, when EPA figures are confirmed Wednesday, the first press day of the New York International Auto Show.

There are no plans to offer the diesel in the upcoming 4-series coupe, which replaces the 3-series coupe, though the X3 crossover seems a prime candidate for the engine. BMW previously announced a six-cylinder diesel for the 5 Series later this year, and expects that car’s engine to be rated in the neighborhood of 250 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque.

BMW also previewed its new 1.5-liter gas direct-injection three-cylinder engine, which is based on its inline-six architecture. The engine is still under development, though BMW said its development was coming along quickly, and let journalists take short drives in a current, rear-wheel-drive 1 Series as well as a 328d. The gas three will be the internal combustion engine accompanying the electric motor drive in next year’s i8.

Though 328d’s 2.0-liter diesel started with a bit more idle-shake than expected, it’s very smooth in terms of power delivery, with good tip-in and no noticeable surge in power when the turbo kicks in. The four feels like it offers ample power, feeling perhaps a bit low on power on steep suburban hills. It’s well-matched to the ZF eight-speed automatic, the only transmission that will be available with this engine in the U.S. Owners will need to refill AdBlue, the urea fluid required to meet U.S. particulate emissions standards, with intervals of 6,000 to 10,000 miles. The fuel tank has a 16.1-gallon capacity, so highway range could be in the 650-725 mile neighborhood.

We also drove a current 1 Series with the 1.5-liter three-cylinder turbo engine. It is smooth – perhaps smoother at idle than the diesel four, and has a distinctively rorty exhaust note at full chat. The engine is plenty adequate for such cars; the 1 Series hatchback weighs nearly 3100 pounds, and the turbo three has plenty of power with a kind of wild character we haven’t seen in a BMW engine for decades. Entry BMW/Mini-buyers will be amused.

Though BMW avoided details, the three is slated for the next-generation front-wheel-drive 1-series, and of course, the next-generation Mini. It has potential, too, for the rear-wheel-drive 2-series coupe, which replaces the 1 Series, and as mentioned above, the i8 plug-in-hybrid supercar. Don’t rule out larger models in need of a fuel efficiency boost, like the X1, for the engine. With Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards reaching a crescendo in 2016 and again in 2025, we’ll see such wholesale engine downsizing everywhere.

Oh, yeah, BMW also introduced enhanced Connected Drive, including a new BMW app system connecting with iPhone 3GS, 4, 4S and 5 with IOS5 or later, and plans to reach out to Android. BMW will offer a 4G hot spot, and is extending its BMW Assist accident reporting system through the entire lineup; currently, it’s standard in 5-, 6-, 7- and X5/X6 and a $650 option in other models.

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