What is it?
A good deal more torque, reduced consumption, lower emissions and less weight - but better? Before driving BMW’s new X1xDrive28i, the first model to feature the German car maker’s new turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, I wasn’t so sure.
The new unit, known as the N20 and set to head into a whole range of models in the not-too-distant-future, has been conceived to (indirectly) replace one of the landmark engines of our time, BMW’s classic naturally aspirated 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder, as part of an on-going downsizing program at the centre of the company’s much heralded EfficientDynamics initiative.
The new four-cylinder follows the blueprint laid down by BMW’s most recent turbocharged 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder; it boasts the same 91mm bore centre spacing and runs a twin scroll turbocharger (albeit from Mitsubishi not Borg Warner), Valvetronic variable valve timing, Vanos camshaft control system and latest 200bar direct injection system from Bosch. At 144kg, it also weighs 18kg less than the old naturally aspirated six-cylinder.
What's it like?
First impressions reveal it to be well up to the job. With peak power and torque arriving 1600rpm and 1350rpm earlier than with the old six-cylinder, BMW’s latest four-cylinder doesn’t have to be worked anywhere near as hard before delivering its best.