About a year ago we reported on BMW developing a new family of modular gasoline and diesel engines that will include a three-cylinder variant and eventually go into some 1.5 million BMW and MINI models annually.

BMW has now revealed that the engines will feature its latest ‘TwinPower Turbo’ technology in order to ensure that any car fitted with such tiny engines will still be worthy of carry the ‘Ultimate Driving Machine’ tag. Brand purists need not worry, however, as this new-generation of downsized engines is expected to feature in BMW’s upcoming range of front-wheel drive models.

TwinPower Turbo technology features a twin-scroll turbocharging system, direct fuel injection and solenoid injectors, the latter being the latest innovation for BMW’s VALVETRONIC variable valve control system. The resulting effect is a small engine--and small engine fuel economy--but with big engine performance.

2012 BMW minicar rendering

2012 BMW minicar rendering

We recently saw a new TwinPower Turbo 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine unveiled, which develops 245 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque.

This performance is comparable with the automaker’s naturally aspirated 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine, so it’s not surprising that models wearing the number "28" on their bootlid will soon ditch their straight-sixes in favor of the turbo four.   

As for the new three-cylinder TwinPower Turbo engine range, the first model expected to use it will be the next-generation MINI due in 2014 and two front-wheel drive BMW models following shortly after.

The move to downsized engines is part of BMW’s wider goal to cut its average carbon dioxide emissions another 25 percent by 2020, after they were reduced 30 percent between 1995 and 2010.

For more information on BMW's future front-wheel drive models, click here.

[Automotive News, sub req’d]