Are BMW and Volkswagen killing the V8?


Imagine walking into a BMW dealership and test-driving a brand-new car with the hottest new engine.

If you’re picturing a guttural V8 or even a supercharged V6, think again. Come 2011, Beemer’s hot new engine choice could be a three-cylinder. 

As drivers around the world become more concerned about economy than infatuated with power, automakers would be crazy not to find ways to make good engines smaller. That’s exactly why BMW plans to use a new three-cylinder engine in its 2011 1 Series, and Volkswagen seems to be moving ahead with a three-cylinder version of the Golf

It wasn’t long ago that we mentioned the idea that V8 engines could become obsolete, used only in commercial applications and big trucks that tow big trailers. 

And why would we still demand V8 engines when the same performance can be had out of a turbocharged V6? And why would we need a turbocharged V6 if a direct-injection four-cylinder comes dang close? And hey, if we’re already looking at a four-cylinder, we might as well look at a three-cylinder.

It’s expected that BMW’s little engine would be about 1.4 liters and generate between 120 and 180 hp. I certainly assume turbochargers would be involved somehow! 

It’s also likely that we’ll see a brand-new 240-hp four-cylinder from BMW in the coming years that could replace some of its V6 units.

It’s starting, folks! The V8 is headed for the museums, while three- and four-cylinder engines could take over the world.

Do you think three-cylinder engines have a future?



  1. BMW can’t replace its V6 engines, because BMW has never built them. It still has a classic in-line 6 and if they plan to replace it with a 4 cilinder (which will likely be more expensive to build) then I will never, ever sell my 130i

  2. This is an intermediate step. As long as manufacturers can balance the HP against the vehicle weight to provide that “performance feel”, there will be a market for 3 cylinder, and eventually 2 cylinder engines. By that time, the electric motors will have progressed to the point that they are competitive and reliable, with either hydrogen fuel cell or other battery regeneration systems including solar, wind, and geothermal. Goodbye hydrocarbons. That will certainly be a turning point in the history of the motor vehicle. I’m guessing 2020, maybe sooner.

  3. aaah…I slill wanted a V8 gas guzler like a audi rs4 or a m3 i guess the next generation both would be 6 cylinder turbocharged or supercharged models

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