BMWBlog went to Munich to test drive BMW’s new three-cylinder engine. To showcase its capability, the Bavarians fitted the “baby-six” in a 1 Series Hatchback.
The version of the gasoline 3-cylinder engine BMWBlog tried outputs 180 horsepower and 200 foot-pounds of torque, mated to a modified ZF 8-speed automatic transmission. BMW engineers say this is just a prototype unit that has potential to achieve higher power outputs.
Our experience starts with a quick look under the hood where the small three-cylinder fits perfectly in the compact engine bay. Upon pushing the Start button, a satisfying growling sound emerges reminding us that its core engineering is derived from the award-winning six-cylinder turbocharged unit. The unique acoustics impress us at both idle and under full-throttle sounding much tougher than the four-cylinder turbos. Vibrations are alleviated by a counter-rotating balancing shaft.
We were initially allowed a couple of laps around the improvised course, but we sneaked in a few more to get a better feel of how potent this three-cylinder can be. The throttle’s responsiveness reminded us of the larger six-cylinder, with quick sprints, essentially minimal turbo lag and plenty of power at low RPMs. Torque is surprisingly strong.
On the two straight lines, we pushed the engine to its redline, which at this stage of development, kicks in at 6,500 rpm. Downshifting in corners is smooth, yet sporty and shifting up and down produces a growling exhaust note, which is worth a grin.
In the next MINI generation of vehicles the three-cylinder powerplant could become purists’ favorite, delivering both performance and exceptional fuel economy. When mounted transversely, the three-cylindert will serve as the entry point powerplant in BMW’s future front-wheel drive vehicles.
In our opinion, these new family of engines will place BMW on the first grid in the premium compact automobiles market where they will compete against from Mercedes and Audi.
Hear it for yourself, right here. Not bad eh? –– Paul Duchene
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