Report: BMW’s M division moving to four and six-cylinder turbos

BMW's M Division chief confirms details about the brand's future

BMW's M Division chief confirms details about the brand's future

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BMW CEO Norbert Reithofer recently revealed plans to phase out diesel V8 engines across the board, but as drastic as this sounds it could be just the tip of the iceberg for the carmaker’s future plans to shakeup its powertrain lineup. BMW’s hallowed M division could also be affected by the new wave of environmental consciousness sweeping carmakers across the world, the end result being smaller engines and turbochargers in future performance models.

Speaking with MotorTrend, high-ranking BMW sources, including M division CEO Ludwig Willisch, revealed that the 4.0L and 5.0L high-rev V8 and V10 engines in the current M lineup will make way for forced-induction engines, possibly as early as next year. The first of these are likely to appear in the new M versions of the X5 and X6 SUVs, which have been spotted testing recently in both Germany and the United States.

These performance SUVs, designed to challenge the Porsche Cayenne and Mercedes Benz ML63 AMG, will pick up a new twin-turbocharged 4.4L V8 delivering more power and torque than the current 5.0L V10 in the M5 and M6 line of cars. According to one source, output could be as high as 550hp (410kW) and 516lb-ft (700Nm) of torque – enough for 0-60mph times of less than five seconds and an electronically top speed of 155mph.

As for the next-generation 3 and 1-series models, new performance M versions are due to hit the streets in the 2014 model year. While it’s still too early to confirm what powertrain options the cars will feature, a turbocharged six-cylinder is expected to appear in the M3, while a turbocharged four-cylinder with more than 300hp (225kW) will appear in the hotted up 1-series.

Before their arrival, however, a new M5 and M6 is set to be launched. These are expected to feature more powerful versions of the twin-turbocharged V8 engine appearing in the X5 and X6 M models.

In addition to turbocharging, BMW will add automatic engine stop-start and brake regeneration technologies to further reduce fuel consumption and emissions.

Although purists may scoff at the idea of a turbocharged M3 or even M5, it’s a direction rival performance house AMG is planning to take as well, and with the current practice of one-upmanship amongst carmakers BMW may not have a choice.
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Comments (18)
  1. Purists can scoff all they like, but the original M3 had a smaller engine as well, and was very peaky and hard to get the most out of (kind of like the current Evo and STi).
    But I don't see anything wrong with a pavement ripping inline 6 with a couple of turbos strapped on (ala the old Supra, which was a monster in tuner's hands).
    If there's one thing better than a V8, it's a proper inline-6.

  2. BMW + Turbo"s" = VERY NICE S**T :D
    Had a E34 B10 Bi-Turbo once. Straight Six with two Turbos. Very nice.

  3. I have never driven this car in any of itsiterations but believe this would be a good move and one Audi and MB would be well advised to copy. Correct me if I'm wrong but the V8 is heavier than a V6, even with turbos on it, and so not the correct engine for a sports coupe.

  4. well hector, i think the one thing that needs to be said is that it wouldnt be a V6... it would be an I6. and yes there is a huge difference. in many ways, an I6 is a smother engine than a good V8. even a really good I5 has more potential than a V8. It's got everything to do with geometry. with an I6, you have 3 power strokes per rotation. on a V8, you only have 2. and I5 has 2.5, and an I4 in many ways is similar to the V8, in that it also has 2 power strokes per rotation. V6? 1.5.

    basically, you get a smother ride. the engineers are left to figure out what to do with the inherent vibrations of an inline engine, but that can be taken care of. Volvo has made a great name by making everything from I3 to I6 engines. It may seem rediculous now, but there was a time when an I8 was a mark of luxury. because it's basically one half of a V16.

    regardless; volvo has been packaging some great inline engines and I think that the german makes would stand to improve their image of refined quality and luxury if they did away with the V engines.

  5. Actually V8 in current m3 is 33Lbs lighter than than I6 in previous generation of M3. So V8 can weight less than i6, given it's new V8 vs old i6.

    And turbos, especially 2, can add a lot of weight on front of the car.
    Take any subaru or mazda, they have similar models with or without turbos. Models with
    turbos have to be adjusted for extra weight, but putting different front suspension to compensate for extra weight.

  6. ivan; comparing a new engine to an old engine isnt fair, and I know for a fact that the mazda speed 3 is about 250 lbs heavier than the 3hatch, but it has little to do with the engine. in these sportier models, the chassis is stiffened, heavier mechanicals are used, and generally there is more sound insulation as well.

    adding a turbo, even a bi-turbo, will not add much weight. the point is that an I5 is smoother than a V8. an I6 is that much more so. theres a certain level of premium that you get when you have an inline engine over 4 cylinders (or equivalently, a V engine over 8 cylinders).

    I'm certain that BMW could have made a new I6 that would have been lighter than the V8 that replaced the old I6. A V block inherently has more metal per cylinder than an I block because of the stresses at the inside of the angle itself. more metal needs to be filled into the V, making it more or less triangular.

    basically the point here is that BMW is a luxury make, and if they have to drop the number of cylinders then they should go back to an I configuration, because of the smooth feel.

    and i brought up packaging because the volvo C30 has a transverse mounted I5 turbo. thats right. 5 cylinders, mounted sideways. in a compact hatch. it's not like you need a long nosed car like a deusenburg just to fit a big (read: larger than 4 cyl) Inline engine. If volvo can mount an I5 transversely in an AWD compact car, then BMW should have no problem making a mid sized car with a transverse AWD I6 a cylinder is only as wide as your arm after all.

  7. I used to have what is probably the best engine ever made, the 3 liter I6 in the late 80's MB 300E. Man what a smooth engine, and it was so easy to work on, one cam cover, plenty of room on either side.
    But I think part of the V engine's popularity is the compactness. You can push it further back in the car, wheras the I6 took up a long length of room.

    Thanks for the lesson on power pulses per revolution, Chris, did not know that.

  8. Yeah Chris but you will not seen transversal mounted engines in a BMW. They didn't started it in the 1 series why should they do in another model? The whole balance of the car is just better when you mount the engine longitunal behind the front axle. When you don't do it look at the Audi A4 what happens.

  9. Well I mentioned transverse because all the M's (besides the M3) are AWD, and by the time you saw the results of this article, you can guarantee the M3 would be AWD as well. Transverse mounting doesnt really matter in AWD mounting wise.

    As for weight distribution, the issues come with pushing the transmission into the engine bay. But BMW could take some cues from ingenious FWD engineering and push the wheel base to be larger. Once key example that comes to mind is the current Mazda 3. Just about everything infront of the front fender is just body kit.

    point being is that BMW gets a lot of praise for being a pure driving experience but that's cause they've been doing nothing but taking the simplest formula and doing it well. front engine. rear drive.

    they're capable of more.

    I maintain that they could package a good I6 all the way down to the 3 series. The 1 will never have AWD, so transverse makes no sense in that car. god knows BMW will never go FWD.

  10. Chris.... Man, you were on a roll there, came off looking very well informed, until you said "all the M cars, with the exception of the M3, are AWD" WTF????? There has NEVER, EVER, been an AWD M car. The M3 will never be AWD, nor will the M5, M6, or any other M car, as it violates the basic philosophy of the M car. (Lots of power, lots of revs, LOW WEIGHT, RWD) BMW only started building the AWD system into their cars because they didn't want to lose their segment of the market to the idiots who believe such a thing is necessary on a road car. AWD REDUCES performance on a road, inducing understeer and adding vast amounts of weight. You will NEVER see a BMW M with AWD, I guarantee. I
    readily agree with your thoughts on inline engines, however, especially an I6, as they have inherent balancing qualities. I have never seen/felt a smooth I5, though... Ford/ Volvo I5s sound and act like diesels. BMWs policy in the past has been that turbos are a lazy, uninspired way to get power out of a motor. Sad to see the M division change their philosophy so dramatically. But, I'd still like to see the BMW/Brabham engine from the '80's in a car... 1.5L I4, 1500hp... the ultimate tire-shredding machine.

  11. BMW's policy HAS to change... With the HP war going on, you can keep pushing outright hp numbers, but you therefore also need to chase higher revs (and kill fuel consumption)

    AFAIK, the Mazda3 has the engine ahead of the axle. Not many have placed a FWD engine behind the axle.

  12. Makes sense to me

  13. Ouch, it's hard to answer anything here. Let's try anyway...

    Given an engine configutation and displacement, a forced-enduction versions is of course heavier than a naturally-aspirated engine. However, it is usually lighter than a naturally-aspierated engine with more displacement and cylinders. As Chris said, "I'm certain that BMW could have made a new I6 [for the M3] that would have been lighter than the V8 that replaced the old I6".

    Audi is much better skilled (or trained) at forced-induction engines than BMW and Mercedes. The new S4 is an example. The other two must hurry up to decrease fuel consumption level of their high-performance versions (BMW has already done that in regular versions with the so-called Efficient Dynamics).

  14. "the end result being smaller engines.." And 4 litres isn't small?!! I know that's pretty big by European standards, but still not for a V8, unless you count the 2 litre etc. F1 V8s from the '30s-'50s.

  15. why not add turbos to engines they have or even beter supercharge them to get the extra horses, new software and exhausts etc can make them more efficient without losing cubics and cylinders.

    Okay the I6 maybe super sweet in the 135/335 but it doesn't sound like an M car. Maybe a superchargered engine with the high pitched whine and roar would.

  16. Doubt they will use superchargers, Alpina does but that is aftermarket, BMW has a long history with turbos going back to the 2002

  17. I just have one thing to say that no one here has said yet, i don't know if you guys notice, but there is an economic crisis, you really think they're gonna put this much money in a car to change so many things from a platform, they're gona stick with the basic template of the car, so all you supercharger guys out there, i wish you luck, no chance that will happen.

  18. @Chris:

    Your first statement is correct but is the wrong way to describe why Inline 6 engines are smoother than V8's or V6's. It all comes down to *when* the combustion strokes are in effect, rather than how many (when dealing above 4 cylinders). In regards to the I6 has 3 combustion strokes per "rotaion" (I believe you mean crankshaft revolution), well there is only 1 *complete* combustion stroke during a revolution, while another is ending and another is beginning.

    Take any engine and divide 720 by the number of cylinders. 720 represents 2 pi, or 2 revolutions of the crankshaft (360degrees times 2). The reason for 2 crankshaft revolutions is because we are dealing with 4 stroke engines. If the engine is designed properly, we can see that every 120degrees, an I6 has a combustion stroke. Since a combustion stroke last 180degrees, the I6 effectively has 2 combustion strokes overlapping each other almost constantly. There is a 60degree period when there is only one combustion stroke in effect.

    Now what the engine designers could do is design an I6 that has 3 cylinders achieving a combustion stroke at the exact same time on the crank. While this will give ridiculous torque production, and satisfy your claim of 3 combustion strokes per revolution, it would not make a smooth engine. It would be more like a 180 parallel twin.

    Either way, it's all about timing.

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