Like it or not, after a long absence, BMW may bring four-cylinder engines back to the U.S. to help it meet stricter fuel economy standards. According to Bloomberg, rather than make an even stronger case for clean diesel engines, (which Americans just can’t seem to embrace), BMW is seriously contemplating a return to smaller engines.
About half of BMW’s models worldwide have diesel engines: the 1 Series, 3 Series, X3 compact SUV, and the entry level version of the midsize 5 Series sedan. In the U.S., BMW offers a six-cylinder turbo-diesel engine on two models: the BMW 335d and the BMW X5 xDrive35. A four-cylinder BMW diesel that produces 204 hp was named Europe’s engine of the year in 2008 but it’s not offered here. Most obvious candidates for a downsized engine would be either the 1 Series and/or 3 Series compact sedans.
While older BMWs that used four-cylinder engines were notoriously underpowered, modern twin-turbocharged four-cylinder engines are capable of around 200 horsepower, or roughly the same amount as current six-cylinder engines. Unfortunately, they also cost more to make. BMW stopped importing four-cylinders into the U.S. in 1999.