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BMW 1-Series Prototype With 3-Cylinder Engine- Henny's First Drive

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2014 BMW 1 Series With 3 Cylinder Power

Modular concept for new engine family

By Henny Hemmes
Senior European Editor
The Auto Channel

MUNICH, October 8, 2012. Innovations have always been important to BMW, that started in the nineties with EfficientDynamics measures. From 1995 until 2008, the BMW Group achieved a 27 per cent decrease in fuel consumption of its European fleet. Now it has the intention to further reduce CO2 emissions worldwide with another 25 percent by 2020.

Gerhard Kurz, vice president BMW Group EfficientDynamics said during the innovation day, an event where the media could look into the kitchen of the developers, that the relation performance-consumption is very important: “We want to further reduce consumption, but not at the cost of less performance.”

He said that the focus is on energy management, as a sum of all components, on heath management for the right temperature at the right moment and place, on light weight construction and last but not least on aerodynamics.

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The first step is optimizing the internal combustion engine, so in 2007, BMW started to develop a new engine family of 3-, 4- and 6-cylinder petrol and diesel engines based on a modular concept of cylinders with 0.5-liter capacity and aided by Twin Power turbo technology with variable turbo charger geometry. The modular concept enables BMW to build the 3-, 4- and 6-cylinder engines with 40 per cent of the same parts.

They all will be teamed to the 8-speed automatic transmission that we already find in many BMW models.

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The new 1.5-liter 3-cylinder engine will debut at the IAA in Frankfurt in September 2013 in the base model of the next generation Mini. The sportier Mini models, starting with the Cooper S will keep their 4-cylinder engines.

From then on also the base model of the 1-Series and even the 3-Series will get the 1.5-liter 3-cylinder engine will be ‘rolled out’ in base model of the 1-Series. Even the 3-Series will get it, which is possible because the engine can be placed in a north-south or east-west direction, meaning suitable for front- and rear wheel drive cars. The 6-cylinder engine will only be placed in north-south direction. The modular concept results in excellent flexibility of the plant, as the 3-, 4- and 6-cyliders can be built on the same production line. The 3-cylinder diesel will be ready for a market introduction in the fourth quarter of 2014.

BMW fans may have been shocked when they learned that their beloved brand started developing four-cylinder engines. What they did not know then, is the 3-cylinder engines were already in an advanced stage of development. This summer, BMW also announced to develop front wheel drive

But wait, no reason to turn away. The 4-cylinder engines have proven to be worthy representatives of the brand and the engineers will undoubtedly be able to develop an excellent front wheel drive system as well.

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And… we could already drive a prototype 1 Series with the new 3-cylinder motor at the test track of the recently opened BMW Driving Experience at the former airfield of Fürstenfeldbruck near Munich. The 174 hp strong 3-cylinder (200 lb-ft of torque) reacts swiftly on the throttle and takes off eagerly. It easily reached 6,000 rpm but is also at ease with only 1,000. Just like in the upcoming production models, the 1.5 is absolutely working well together with the 8-speed automatic and its sound unmistakably proves its nature, be it rather high for a sporty touch. The engineer joining me in the car, says to be proud of the high sound that has been specially developed.

A balance shaft, that is built in the engine’s crank case evens out the vibrations that you would typically expect in a 3-cylinder.

This is also the engine that will be used as a range extender in the BMW i8 hybrid sports car, that we will see in its latest configuration, but still as a concept, at the Los Angeles International Auto Show at the end of November.

But it will last nearly another year before we will be able to really judge the new engine in the new Mini. This first drive with the prototype should provide a little confidence to people who are still critical when hearing the word 3-cylinder.