Too Much Turbo? Next BMW M3 Could Pack Tri-Turbo Straight Six


The good people over at British magazine Auto Express have never been ones to back away from a rumor.

One of the most intriguing products the rumor mill has churned out lately is this: The next BMW M3 could come packing a tri-turbo straight six.

Yup. Three turbos. Well, more precisely, two conventional exhaust-powered turbochargers and a third electric turbo. Which sounds to me more like a supercharger, but I suppose “supercharged bi-turbo M3” doesn’t roll off the tongue quite like “tri-turbo” does. I have heard rumblings of electric-assisted hybrid turbos, to help spool up boost before exhaust gases can take over. Maybe that’s what BMW has up its sleeve.

Regardless of what it’s called, the rumor signals yet another change in engines for the legendary M3.

There was a time when the M3 packed a little inline four before moving to a straight six and then receiving a monster V8. All the turbo goodness of the new six will provide around 450 hp, up from the V8’s 414.

The next-gen M3 is due sometime in 2014, at the same time as the new 3 Series.

1979 BMW M1

1979 BMW M1

And if that’s not enough M for you, then consider we could see a genuine M1 supercar once production wraps on the current 1 Series M Coupe. Beyond that, BMW could even grace the world with an M version of the Z4.

The downsides to all this turbocharged fun are extra cost, potential reliability problems and tri-turbo-induced lag. Seeing as how this is BMW, though, buyers aren’t likely to scoff too much at the cost, and engineers will surely put out an engine that’ll be free of problems and frustrating lag times.

Factor in the potential fuel savings of a tri-turbo 6-cylinder engine and it’s hard to argue against the technology. We’ll just have to get used to the tell-tale whine of the turbos instead of the rumble of the V8.

Is there such a thing as too much turbo?


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