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MINI’s New Three Cylinder Engine Revealed at BMW’s New Innovation Days

Our colleagues at BimmerFile have posted the latest information regarding BMW’s new 3-clyinder engine destined for its upcoming FWD 1-series. We’ll be seeing more and more detail on this car leading up to its Paris Motor Show debut in the coming weeks. Leading off with this engine information, MINI fans can learn a lot about what to expect in MINIs to come.

  • With the Efficient Dynamics development strategy, the BMW Group assumes a leading role in the entire automotive industry.
  • The whole fleet in focus: the BMW Group continues to develop Efficient Dynamics and is working on innovative technologies.
  • The BMW Group’s Efficient Dynamics family of engines: development of a completely new family of three, four and six-cylinder engines, equipped with BMW TwinPower Turbo technology.
  • Predictive Power Management: Using navigation data, the power unit learns to “see” – already standard equipment on the new BMW 7 Series.
  • Intelligent Energy Management: heat pump, infrared heating surfaces and the second generation of the air vent control help to save energy.

Since 2007, the BMW Group has had an extremely successful concept for the reduction of fuel consumption and emissions at its disposal – the Efficient Dynamics development strategy. Efficient Dynamics is an integral part of all areas of vehicle development. Simultaneously, the BMW Group is relentlessly driving forward the electrification of its power units of its future vehicles. However, in the medium term, the internal combustion engine will remain the underlying technology, and thus the standard drive unit, for future series of volume production vehicles. The goal is to continuously reduce the fuel consumption of all the BMW Group’s vehicles.

Completely new family of the BMW Group’s Efficient Dynamics engines featuring BMW TwinPower Turbo technology.
Against this background, the BMW Group decided to develop a completely new family of engines. On the one hand, the existing high-tech concept of TwinPower Turbo technology will be used more effectively while on the other hand, the new engine family will enable an unsurpassed degree of commonality. The latest member of this new generation of engines is an advanced 1.5 litre TwinPower Turbo engine, which will be introduced next year.

Today, BMW TwinPower Turbo technology is used in petrol and diesel engines of various powers and capacities. These engines enjoy the highest level of recognition, acclaimed by both customers and the world of professionals. Numerous prizes and awards testify to this fact. Recent examples include the four-cylinder petrol unit available in 1.6 and 2.0 litres, as well as the top-of-the-line, six-cylinder diesel power unit, the 3.0 litre diesel with Tri-Turbo charging.

BMW TwinPower Turbo technology combines variable load control, direct fuel injection and turbo charging, specifically configured to suit each individual engine. Thus both efficiency and dynamics are increased in equal measure. An important feature of the petrol engines is the VALVETRONIC variable valve control system. Comparable to a highly efficient dimming system, it works almost entirely without losses, controlling all of the cylinders simultaneously and ensuring that extremely low fuel consumption and emission values are achieved. In addition to the gains in efficiency, it also noticeably improves the responsiveness of the engine.

With the introduction of the new Efficient Dynamics family of engines, TwinPower Turbo technology has become the common feature uniting all of the brand’s petrol and diesel engines. The high degree of commonality, a term which refers to the large number of identical components within the engine family, ensures ongoing, sustainable development of the full range of power units. In addition, the BMW Group has now created the conditions necessary to be able to offer even more body derivatives in future. The new engine concept will allow considerable savings to be made in development, integration and production, at an increased level of quality.

The new family of engines is based upon optimised cylinder modules, each with a capacity of about 500 cc, designed for thermodynamic efficiency, smooth, quiet operation and high-enjoyment – perfect for powering passenger vehicles. With the new three, four and six-cylinder engines, the BMW Group provides a range of engine capacities from 1.5 to 3.0 litres, thus adequately servicing a model portfolio consisting of very large volumes.

This new family of engines celebrates its premiere with a turbocharged three-cylinder engine of 1.5 litres. The compact in-line engine has the same genes as the six-cylinder and impresses with its remarkable smoothness.

The BMW Group has rounded out its range of engines in a unique way, adding a member at the bottom of the hierarchy. The new modular engine system exhibits a high degree of commonality between the petrol and diesel engines. Overall, the number of identical parts used in engines powered by the same type of fuel climbs to 60 percent, while the level of structural similarities between petrol and diesel engines is around 40%. Because in future, petrol and diesel engines will be produced on the same production line for the first time, the production process itself will be significantly more flexible.

Predictive capabilities optimise the vehicle.
In addition to optimising individual components, the BMW Group is always exploring other avenues to reduce fuel consumption and emission levels, and to increase the dynamics of the vehicles. One example of this is forecasting the driving conditions ahead. Just like an experienced driver travelling along a stretch of road he knows very well, this technology can optimise the functionality and operational strategies of the vehicle if it is informed of the driving situation it is about to encounter. This information is provided by the vehicle’s onboard electronics from large amounts of sensor data and now also by the navigation system. This allows the great potential of the Efficient Dynamics combined functionality to be put to even better use. Some examples of these technologies, of great benefit to the customer, are the Predictive Power Management system and the coasting feature, with the Foresight Assistant.

The automatic transmission is given the gift of sight.
The new Predictive Power Management system enables the automatic transmission to “foresee” the route ahead. The electronics utilise data pertaining to the route, drawn from the navigation system, to optimize the transmission control enabling it to deal with the driving conditions ahead. The transmission is aware of a bend in the road, even before the driver has taken his foot off the accelerator, and automatically selects the right gear. The vehicle can negotiate the bend under a light load and accelerate out of it far better.

ECO PRO mode with Foresight Assistant.
The new Predictive Power Management system also supports an extremely economical driving style when ECO PRO mode is selected. The Foresight Assistant makes the driver aware of deceleration situations in good time, in order to avoid inefficient braking manoeuvres and to reduce fuel consumption. Other efficiency measures include coasting, where the engine is decoupled from the powertrain, and the ECO PRO Route feature, which calculates the most fuel-efficient route for the driver.

Efficient Dynamics saves energy throughout the vehicle.
Under the general heading of “Intelligent Energy Management”, technicians at the BMW Group are working on a variety of individual solutions that reduce energy consumption. In battery electric vehicles (BEVs) or cars using plug-in hybrid technology (PHEVs), every kilowatt of stored energy (in this case as electricity in the battery) that can be saved by selectively operating ancillary systems, will be available to the electric motor for propelling the vehicle. Some of these techniques for reducing energy consumption are also applicable to vehicles with conventional internal combustion engines.

The heat pump: heating energy savings of around 50 percent.
A particular challenge in BEVs and PHEVs is the efficient delivery of the required heating capacity to heat the passenger compartment. If only energy from the battery were to be used for heating, this drain of electrical energy would greatly limit the range of the vehicle. By using a heat pump in these types of vehicle, around 50 percent of this electrical energy or even more can be saved, depending on driving conditions. The extension of range which is gained can be up to 30 percent, when the outside temperature is at freezing point, depending on the driving cycle.

Infrared heating surfaces emit “healthy” radiant heat.
Conventional heaters and air conditioners today heat the air inside the vehicle, which then transfers its heat to the driver and passengers. In contrast, in systems employing infrared heating surfaces, energy is converted into infrared radiation, which then warms the occupants’ bodies directly. The heating effect is operational only one minute after the system is switched on. In addition, the heat generated by infrared heating surfaces is distributed without any need for drafts of air and is completely silent.

In the field of vehicle heating systems, modern infrared heating surfaces are a new solution that not only promotes low power consumption but also provides a noticeable improvement in the passengers’ level of comfort. Particularly when used in battery electric vehicles (BEVs), which are purely electrically-driven, in future infrared heating surfaces will yield gains in efficiency, since the electrical energy will be used to directly warm the occupants. Apart from rapidly warming the passengers, infrared heating surfaces can be used as an additional feature to create an agreeable, cosy climate within the vehicle. Separate regulated circuits, analogous to seat heating, with which the occupants can individually set their own degree of comfort are another possibility. Since each passenger can be provided with his own individual heating system, it is also possible to selectively heat only those seats that are occupied and thus reduce energy consumption.

The new second-generation air vent control is variable
Back in 2003, the air vent control was already being fitted as standard equipment to several models, as a part of the Efficient Dynamics strategy. The system, which is positioned between the cooling air intake and the radiator, operates with movable slats, which can be closed if necessary, thereby improving the aerodynamics of the vehicle. With the second generation of this technology, a number of positions can be set in order to better control the flow of cooling air in an even more flexible, demand-controlled manner. The upper air slats are normally closed and when in this position make the largest contribution to a reduction in aerodynamic drag. Overall, the air vent control system reduces the drag coefficient cW by 0.015.

Optimising the operating temperature of an internal combustion engine.
In conjunction with the navigation system, predictive thermal management helps maintain the temperature balance within the engine, by means of predictive thermal conditioning of the coolant. The engine’s power delivery is improved and thermal operational reliability is further optimised.

Energy management is an area of growing importance.
Intelligent Energy Management is an integral part of the BMW Group’s Efficient Dynamics strategy. The goal of saving energy in all of the vehicle designs and the details of all of the automotive components has high priority, both now and in future.

Source: BMW

Written By: Nathaniel Salzman

  • piperbud

    I am not a mechanic or mechanical engineer, but I do recall once reading about the harmonics and “moments” applicable to particular cylinder configurations and numbers. As I recall, the straight six and 12s have the least amount of vibration. How does a 3-cylinder configuration compare? Seems it would not deliver the turbine-like smoothness of the aforementioned. Please comment.

    • BimmerFile_Michael

      They can use balancing shafts or weighting the flywheel to improve harmonics, active engine mounts etc to make it less harmonically disturbed. The i-6 and 12 are the most “naturally” harmonic balanced, not needing any additional balancing but all other engines can be made smoother with additional engineering like I mentioned above.

    • Dr Obnxs

      Another thing to keep in mind is that with an I3, the crank is very, very short. So while it’s not a “naturally balanced” engine like an I6 or V12, the crank harmonics are close to non-existant. Like all things, you trade something (natural balance) for others (compact efficent package). Me? I just want the thing to accomplish it’s mission. How many cylinders are under the hood isn’t really that important, as long as those that are there get the job done!

      • Blainestang

        Couldn’t possibly agree more. I don’t care if it has 1 cylinder or 50, so long as it makes the right amount of power, is reliable, and efficient… bonus points if it sounds good, too. The people who say they’re disappointed that they’re going to 3-cylinders or that they probably won’t buy another because of that – Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

  • SK12

    Would this end up in the F56? If so, would it be likely for the MCS hardtop to get a 200hp version of this thing or is that too close to the JCW?

    • http://bridger.us/ Gabriel Bridger

      Yes – we’ve been reporting on this engine and the F56 generation getting it for 3-4 years now. However the best place to go for all the info on the F56 (and the drivetrain) is our recent F56 story.


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