At last week’s Paris Auto Show, BMW unveiled the Concept Active Tourer, a compact plug-in hybrid wagon powered by a combination of  battery power and a 3-cylinder gasoline engine. 

At the moment, BMW’s new 1.5-liter, 3-cylinder engine, designed in part for use in its upcoming i8 plug-in hybrid sports car, isn’t found in any production vehicles. 

Soon, that will change, says BMW board member Ian Robertson. 

In fact, as he told Automotive News (subscription required), BMW’s 3-cylinder engine will soon be used for the Mini brand.

As we previously speculated, the new 3-cylinder engine will most likely make its debut in the all-new next-generation Mini, due to be unveiled in Frankfurt next year, but not expected on dealer lots until 2015.

According to Robertson, using 3-cylinder engines has some significant advantages beyond the obvious improvements in gas mileage. 

“It behaves like a six-cylinder, it is half of a six-cylinder engine and has the noise of a six-cylinder,” he said. “The output from a relatively small engine is not what you would have imagined.”

But are U.S. consumers ready for 3-cylinder engines?

And would you buy a Mini with a 3-cylinder engine instead of a 4-cylinder one? 

Let us know in the Comments below.


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