BMW TwinPower Turbo engine

BMW TwinPower Turbo engine

Automakers all over the world are adapting their engine strategies to the need for higher fuel efficiency and lower carbon emissions.

From mass-market to high-end luxury, engines are getting smaller and more efficient, using direct injection and turbocharging to wring higher power from lower displacement.

The latest maker to unveil new engines is BMW, which took the wraps off its brand new four-cylinder engine with TwinPower Turbo technology earlier this month. Thanks to its 240 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque output, it provides comparable performance to the automaker’s naturally aspirated six-cylinder mills.

Not surprisingly, BMW is keen to replace its naturally aspirated six-cylinder engines with the more fuel efficient four-banger, and the good news is that models featuring the downsized engine are heading to the U.S.

The information was revealed by BMW’s U.S. chief Jim O’Donnell, speaking yesterday at the 2011 Washington DC Auto Show. He said BMW will soon announce what vehicles will feature this new turbo four-cylinder in the U.S. and that they will arrive before the end of the year.

BMW’s TwinPower Turbo technology is nothing new and has already appeared on some of the automaker’s V-8 and six-cylinder models. However, this is the first time that it has been applied to a four-cylinder gasoline engine.

TwinPower Turbo technology features a twin-scroll turbocharging system, direct fuel injection and solenoid injectors, the latter being the latest innovation for the automaker’s VALVETRONIC variable valve control system.

BMW has already revealed its X1 crossover fitted with a TwinPower four-cylinder turbo engine in xDrive28i trim, a model previously fitted with a naturally aspirated engine, and soon there will be more.

Other models expected to get the four-cylinder treatment include the Z4, 1-Series, 3-Series, and possibly the 5-Series. The 3-Series is a natural choice in many ways, particularly with Audi already selling the A4 2.0T and Mercedes-Benz to bring turbo four-cylinder power in the upcoming C250.

It’s not only gas-only models that get the tick of approval from BMW for the automaker’s future U.S. lineup, however. In his speech O’Donnell also explained that sales of BMW’s diesel models in the U.S. were on the rise and there will be more models in the future.

BMW currently sells two clean diesels in the U.S.: the 335d four-door sedan, and a diesel version of the X5 sport utility vehicle.

O'Donnell also said that hybrids are here to stay, though he mentions that they will likely remain a niche product for some time to come. BMW offers both the ActiveHybrid 7, a mild-hybrid version of its full-size luxury sedan, and the ActiveHybrid X6, a full-hybrid adaptation of its "sports activity vehicle," a sort of fastback SUV.

[BMW via MotorAuthority]