Dr. Klaus Draeger is the man in charge of development at BMW. We’re filing this under rumor for now, but in a recent interview with the German magazine Auto, Motor und Sport he eluded to the possibility of two-cylinder engines in small BMWs and even future MINIs. First the what, then the why. According to Dr. Draeger, the sweet spot for a small power plant of this type would be about 500cc per cylinder with a target horsepower of 80-100 hp. That’s not a particularly tall order given what BMW can do with motorcycles. For example, a BMW F 800 ST sport touring bike is squeezing 85 reliable horsepower out of just .798 liters of opposed twin. At the other end of the performance spectrum, the .999 liter BMW S 1000 RR four-cylinder is blasting an amazing 193 hp.
So an efficient but powerful twin is the engineering equivalent of low-hanging fruit for BMW, but why go there? The answer is actually a pretty simple relationship: cost vs. fuel efficiency. More specifically, in small vehicles the cost and complexity of hybrid systems doesn’t tend to provide the kind of high-percentage mpg gains they do in larger vehicles. So for a small car like the MINI, or even the upcoming FWD offerings from BMW, it makes sense to look for extra mpgs by reducing displacement (and even cylinders) rather than adding hybrid drive systems.
Where would these engines fit in, if BMW pursues them? Chances are they’d be reserved for the smallest of BMW’s and MINI’s offerings. As we’ve reported previously on Motoringfile, MINI is already testing a three-cylinder engine for the next generation MINI Cooper S hatch â€” a car that will share platform with FWD offerings under the BMW propeller. Could we see a two cylinder Cooper or One? Only time will tell.
What do you think? Does the number of cylinders under your bonnet matter to you so long as the horsepower is there? What if the trade-off is impressive yet simple gains in efficiency? We know you have an opinion.