Naturally-aspirated engines seem to be a dying breed. Yes, we know we’re exaggerating, but forced induction and smaller displacement engines are steadily becoming the norm for most manufacturers. Unlike in years past where the naturally-aspirated V-6 was king, the four looks to be the bread-and-butter in years to come. In the mainstream midsize sedan segment, turbo fours have nearly entirely replaced sixes. BMW, with its silky-smooth inline sixes that we love, has fully jumped on the bandwagon as well.
Even the mid-size 528i now comes standard with a four-cylinder engine. Thankfully, modern technology means that we aren’t suffering anything in terms of power. Technologies used include High Precision Direct Fuel Injection, Double-Vanos variable camshaft timing and VALVETRONIC variable valve timing with twin-scroll turbocharging. Yeah, this is a technological tour de force.
BMW began its switch from inline six-power with the Z4 roadster in the 28i guise, and it has spread to the 5, 3. Now the X3 Crossover is getting the new N20 engine. Like the others, it is a 2.0-liter unit with BMW TwinPower turbo technology. It makes 240 horsepower and 260 pound feet of torque. BMW’s twin-scroll turbo ensures maximum torque is available at an extremely low 1,250 rpm. That makes for some very nice performance figures – 0-60 in 6.5 seconds for the base model. The engine will be lighter than the N50 inline six it replaces, as well as a good bit more fuel efficient.
While four-cylinder BMWs seems a bit odd to many of us, BMW is quick to point out that four-cylinders is a return to roots of sorts for the company. For instance, the 3-Series when it first debuted in 1975 was powered by a four. For those who want six-cylinder power, the X3 xDrive35i is available, and it utilizes BMW’s N55 engine, which is also turbocharged. It generates 300 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque using the same TwinPower Turbo technology. For most, BMW’s strategy of standard fours and optional turbo sixes will work out really well, as much as we hate to see the naturally-aspirated sixes go.