Four cylinders, with a twist: BMW four-cylinder engine returns to U.S.

28 Jan

By Matt McCarron

For the first time since 1999 BMW will offer the U.S. a four-cylinder engine as part of its power plant lineup, and while the four-cylinder isn’t as famous as BMW’s inline-six, it still brings back some great memories.

The inline-four cylinder S14 is perhaps BMW’s most iconic engine of all-time. The 2.3 liter version powered the legendary E30 M3 in the U.S., and Evolution I and Evolution II homologations in Europe. The final and subsequently larger 2.5 liter powered the 600 examples of the Sport Evolution in 1990. This is the S14 we’re talking about, an engine that powered the E30 M3 to numerous titles, including two Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft (DTM) championships, two European Touring Car Championships and the World Touring Car Championship in 1987.

Courtesy of BMW USA

The new four-cylinder engines debuting for the U.S market in 2011 will still have four cylinders, of course, but will have a twist, quite literally in fact. The new generation will feature a twin-scroll turbocharger system with high-pressure direct-injection along with BMW’s Valvetronic intake control system. The result of all this added technology is a maximum power output of 240 horsepower at 5,000 rpm and 260 lb-ft of torque at 1,250 rpm.

BMW claims the new four-cylinder engine will offer the same power output as a traditional naturally aspirated inline-six engine. This is partly due to the all-aluminum crankcase and a whole host of other high-tech engineering, resulting in a more efficient and cleaner running and burning engine.

With 240 horsepower the new four-cylinder will definitely have more than enough power and acceleration to make quick runs to the grocery store, or a spirited jaunt on a back country road for that matter. Another aspect to a small displacement engine’s appeal is getting more bang for your buck. Whether it’s the turbocharger or the fear of gasoline prices being projected to rise significantly throughout the year, people want to know they’re getting a good deal and something made to last. And the new BMW four-cylinder engines seem to be a smart choice, both for those searching for more economical and fuel-efficient, while not having to give up the trill and excitement of passionate driving.

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