I-4 is the new V-6. As emissions and fuel consumption standards tighten, automakers have been downsizing engines across the board. While the 3.0-liter V-6 had been the baseline engine for premium automakers for years, that role belongs to the 2.0-liter inline four. That means the V-8 is fast becoming a specialty engine.
V-8s used to be relatively cost effective to produce, as they shared key pieces of hardware with V-6 engines. Now, as automakers look to apply that strategy to I-4s – upsizing the basic architecture to produce 3.0-liter I-6 engines and downsizing it to produce 1.5-liter I-3s – a new V-8 is now not only a tougher proposition from a regulatory perspective, but also more expensive to design and make.
This backdrop explains a deal being hammered out between BMW and Jaguar Land Rover whereby the Bavarians will supply an upgraded version of its twin-turbo V-8 to the Brits for use in high-end Jaguar and Land Rover models. The current 4.4-liter BMW V-8 develops between 450 and 600 hp, depending on spec. A leaner, stronger, and torquier 4.0-liter variant is in the works, and it’s this engine that’s likely to appear in JLR vehicles.
At first glance, the deal would seem to favor JLR, which is developing I-6 and I-3 engines off the Ingenium I-4 architecture, and will ultimately need a new V-8 for its SVR Jaguars and Land Rovers. But decreasing demand and increasing costs means BMW has reached a point where it needs the added volume from a second player to make the business case for the V-8.