Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Is BMW about to abandon its I6?

With the next M3 around the corner, engine rumors are heating up and those with inside sources are saying that BMW will use a V6 , the rest of us have You Tube videos to analyze. There are three reasons why BMW would want to switch to a V6 from its traditional inline six cylinder layout: two improve performance, for marketing reasons, and to make Audi fans say I told you so (as in Audi used a turbo V6 in its RS4 many years ago). Clearly the first two reasons are significantly more likely to be true. The new V6 which would likely place the turbos between the cylinder banks could allow for better turbo response and the V6 configuration could make for a shorter engine. Using the V6 instead of an upgraded inline six seen in the 335i also gives the marketing folks the ability to differentiate the M3 from its lesser 3 series siblings. Words such as groundbreaking, bespoke and unique can be used to justify the M3's pricing premium. A different engine removes the 135i (with chip tuning) vs. 1M debate and dilemma and allows for a significantly bigger price cushion between a 335i and an M3. Not as strong of an argument as a high RPM V8 on the current M3 but the next best solution keeping while keeping the fuel economy in mind.

In reality both reasons probably play a role if the next M3 does come with a V6 and not a familiar I6 but only BMW knows what the ratio of importance between marketing and performance is.

Will the next M3 feature a smaller version of the M5's V8

Or an updated version of the tried and true I6?

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