BMW M Chief Says Brand’s ‘Not Going To Do’ 3- or 4-Cylinder Cars

The Bavarian automaker’s performance division seems to see full electrification as a preferable alternative to anything less than an inline-six.

byPeter Holderith|
BMW News photo

Plenty of performance cars have four-cylinder power these days, but BMW M boss Frank van Meel says the engines—and their smaller three-cylinder siblings—are not fit for the brand's high-performance cars. "We're not going to do any three-cylinder engines," he told CarBuzz, and in terms of four-cylinder engines in M Cars, the brand is "not going to do that."

Of course, other automakers disagree on the potential of four and three-cylinder engines in high-performance applications. The most notable is Mercedes. Its new C63 AMG sedan has a boosted 2.0-liter four-banger that makes 469 horsepower on its own accord. Toyota also puts a very potent three-cylinder engine in its GR Corolla and GR Yaris. In its hottest state of tune, the tiny 1.6-liter makes 300 hp.

Diminutive cylinder counts may not impress van Meel. The only M car ever to feature a four-cylinder engine was the original E30 M3, a small car that weighed around 2,600 pounds. Needless to say, it was the right engine choice for the deified sports car, but things have obviously changed since the days of the E30. The latest small M car the company makes, the M2, weighs 3,814 lbs. Even if the company makes a 6,000-pound luxury hybrid tank called the XM, a four-cylinder M car is a bridge too far.

The automaker can't afford to just skip electrification, of course. It has already previewed an all-electric prototype M car. What van Meel is saying is what we all know is the classic M car formula. The company won't abandon that in the ICE era. At least on paper, that is.

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