It can be compared to a big and powerful ocean wave. Get on board at the right time and it will surely take you for a grand ride. However, go against it and well, you know the rest of the story!
So what is the big wave in the automotive industry and why should you be aware of it? Well, I hope that you can get on board with more driving pleasure rather than going against it
As I have touched upon in the past, the automotive trend is for lighter weight vehicles, smaller engines as well as expanded multi ratio transmissions.
As an example, let’s consider the engine of the new 2012 BMW 328i sedan (the car will be available in February 2012).
In the 60’s and 70’s BMW 2002s were equipped with 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engines. The 2002tii developed 130 hp.
In the 80’s the BMW 318i also had a four-cylinder engine. However, the majority of 3-Series BMWs were equipped with inline six-cylinder engines.
Do not get me wrong, BMW’s straight six cylinder mills have always been very good engines (well, maybe the ‘eta’ six-cylinder engines of the 80’s were a bit weak but at the time the U.S. was in an oil crisis).
I was of the opinion even back then that BMW should have continued working on the four-cylinder powerplant for the 3-Series. I felt that the six-cylinder made the car heaver up front than necessary thus affecting the car’s handling. I felt that the 5-Series BMW (a larger car) could better handle the straight six-cylinder engine. I was again critical when BMW came out with V8 engines for the 5, 7, and 8-Series. I even wrote to BMW suggesting that the automaker streamline their engine offerings. The automaker wrote back and said they would consider it!
Now, returning to the ‘new’ 2012 BMW 328i sedan and its engine. What is the car’s base engine? A 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder unit providing 245 ho and 260 ft. lb. of torque. This new smaller engine provides 15 more hp and 60 ft. lb. than the base 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder in last year’s 328i. BMW will even be putting this turbo four-cylinder engine in the 5-Series car.
Of note is that six-cylinder engines will be available as options in both the 3 and 5-Series.
The 0-60 mph time of the 2012 328i is slightly faster than last year’s car. The new car’s handling has benefited from the four-cylinder engine’s lighter weight. And, last but not least, the fuel economy has improved from about 28 mpg to about 35 mpg on the highway. In the city, the new car has added about 3 mpg.
Now, to be fair, I must mention that the new BMW 328i has improved gas mileage partly because of its transmission and other monitoring systems. However, the engine ‘downsize’ is a significant part of it.
We might think of the downsizing and say sure you are going to get better gas mileage with a smaller engine! Yes, but the new car’s acceleration and handling are also better and both mean more driving enjoyment.
By looking at the new BMW 328i we can see the trend for all automakers. Regardless of the vehicle you choose to drive, I hope that you can turn this automotive industry wave into the maximum driving enjoyment!
The rock band Boston had a song during the 70’s titled – ‘Feelin’ Satisfied.’ With the ‘new’ BMW four-cylinder engine – Yes indeed!
Kyle Busch is the author of “Drive the Best for the Price: How to Buy a Used Automobile, Sport-Utility Vehicle, or Minivan and Save Money.” He welcomes your comments or car questions at his newly redesigned auto web site at: www.drivethebestbook.com or www.cartown1.com. Follow Kyle on Facebook and Twitter.