The new BMW 3 Series could get three-cylinder engines in the next couple of years, according to BMWs head of engine development, Peter Nefischer.
Nefischer told What Car? that BMW is working on three-cylinder engines across the range, and they could make it to the 3 Series in the next couple of years'.
Engine technology has gone almost as far as possible with the current standard internal combustion engines, according to Nefischer, and that the next step is smaller units.
'Downsizing will go further, with smaller, more powerful engines,' he said. These smaller engines would be combined with turbochargers to give them the required power for a car as large as the 3 Series.
Any three-cylinder unit would be different to the one that will be used for the upcoming BMW i8 hybrid supercar, which is due to arrive in the UK in 2013. The new three-cylinder 3 Series models arent expected to offer an electric motor for extra power, because BMW plans to keep the majority of its hybrid projects to six-cylinder petrol models.
Three-cylinder petrol engines are common in city cars such as the VW Up. The Ford Focus 1.0 Ecoboost goes on sale later this month, and has a three-cylinder petrol engine that will also be used for larger cars such as the Grand C-Max and possibly the 2013 Ford Mondeo.