Speaking with Bloomberg, BMW's top North American engineer, Tom Baloga, said that the four-cylinder may be the best solution to meeting higher fuel economy standards without seriously impacting performance - a key aspect to a marque that bills itself as the 'Ultimate Driving Machine'.
BMW competitor Mercedes-Benz has also been considering going four-cylinder for the U.S., going so far as to unveil a four-cylinder diesel E250 BlueTEC Concept at the New York Auto Show this year. So far no hard plans have been announced, however.
With even the BMW M brand considering four-cylinders - and the U.S. is the primary market for the M Division - it's clear that change is coming. The questions are when will that change come, and how will it take shape? The 3-series is a likely candidate, but the 1-series might be a better first step, especially since vehicle footprint is taken into account in the new fuel standards. Even the X3 is a possible candidate for a four-cylinder, as markets outside the U.S. already get such a vehicle.
What do you think? Do four-cylinders belong in performance-luxury cars? Should a turbocharger be a mandatory inclusion? Or is a diesel four-pot enough to satisfy the thirst for fuel economy and performance in an affordable package?