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BMW 3 Series going three-cylinder

Three for 3: BMW's 3 Series is in line for the in-line three-pot.

Entry level 3 Series likely to adopt spreading BMW triple-pot power

16 Apr 2015

BMW’S popular 3 Series sedan appears to be edging closer to three-cylinder power, if not in the major facelift due next year then potentially in the next-generation due about 2018.

The German car-maker has not ruled out a three-pot engine for its most popular passenger car but GoAuto understands a three-cylinder 3 Series is likely to continue the progression of the drivetrains, which started in the Mini hatch, followed by the 2 Series Active Tourer and the forthcoming 1 Series update.

Speaking to GoAuto, BMW Group Australia corporate communications manager Lenore Fletcher could not confirm the future 3 Series engine line-up, but did say the popularity and performance of three-cylinder engines would enable them to grow through the BMW range.

“With our three-cylinder engines, Australians are very comfortable with those cars so the likelihood of us having further vehicles is quite high, yes definitely,” she said.

“We are seeing a change from V8s into sixes and so on, and I think that’s going to be a constantly moving beast. That's the progress.

“I think we have crossed a bit of a border because there was such a lot of consternation from the media regarding these changes but… the performance is there, the economy is there, it’s working.

“I’d say we would definitely see other things coming through.”

So far BMW has only applied the three-cylinder in transverse engine configurations, so the 3 Series will be the second BMW-badged model after the 1 Series to have a longitudinally mounted three-cylinder driving the rear wheels.

Downsizing on cylinders wouldn’t necessarily mean a downsizing of power for the 3 Series sedan with a selection of three-cylinder outputs currently available, starting with the Mini One’s 75kW and rising to the highly-strung i8 which produces 170kW from 1.5-litres.

A three-cylinder variant would most likely sit at the bottom of the 3 Series pile wearing the 316i or 318i nameplate, which in current four-cylinder guise produces 100kW. A three-cylinder version would likely better the fuel economy from 5.9L/100km to nearer the 5.2L/100km of the 2 Series.

In the last 12 months, BMW executives have commented on the possibility of a three-pot 3 Series, saying the combination would make sense and that three-cylinders would not be limited to just the Active Tourer, but confirmation of models beyond the 1 Series are yet to be made official.

The refreshed BMW 3 Series has been spotted testing in Germany wearing only top-and-tail camouflage suggesting a mild facelift is nearing completion.

Updates are likely to include all LED lighting and mild restyling of the front and rear bumpers and grille.

The updated 1 Series, complete with three-cylinder engine options, will arrive in the second half of this year, while the updated 3 Series is expected later this year or early next year.

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