BMW Reintroduces Four-Cylinder to U.S.

By Colin Bird  on January 31, 2011

Automakers, it seems, are beginning to forsake performance over added efficiency. The most recent example is BMW, which announced the return of its first four-cylinder powertrain since 1997. This one, however, sounds promising.

The new inline-four-cylinder will combine twin-scroll turbocharging, direct injection and BMW’s proprietary variable valve timing system known as Valvetronic. The 2.0-liter motor will produce 240 horsepower and 260 pounds-feet of torque in U.S. variants. That’s more power than BMW’s normally aspirated 3.0-liter inline-six-cylinder, which is found on the current 3 Series, and the 2.0-liter turbo from Audi, which puts out 211 hp and 258 pounds-feet of torque.

While BMW won’t comment on which vehicles will get the engine, we’ll take a wild guess and say the 1 and 3 Series are prime candidates along with the small X1 when it debuts in the U.S. BMW’s move is probably in response to Mercedes-Benz’s recently introduced 201-hp four-cylinder found in the 2012 SLK roadster and C-Class.

Audi’s A4 has consistently offered a four-cylinder option since 1997. The BMW engine will arrive in select models later in 2011.