The fact that the brand-new prototype three-cylinder, 1.5-liter gasoline engine from BMW finds itself in a 1 Series is almost accidental. Heidelinde Holzer, who works on powertrain predevelopment, powertrain functions and powertrain integration, told AutoblogGreen her team simply took the cars that were available. After all, when you're working on engines that are not destined to go into any vehicles in the near future – this has been a four-year project already – it's okay to test them in whatever mule you've got access to. The first production vehicle that will use the three-cylinder is the upcoming i8 plug-in hybrid, which isn't going to arrive until the first half of 2014. BMW didn't allow us to play around in one of those, so we had to make due with our 1 Series prototype test drives yesterday at BMW's Woodcliff Lake, NJ, headquarters.
Under a sky that alternated between bright and threatening-to-rain, two red 1 Series zipped around the BMW campus – we were not allowed to take them on public roads – between technical sessions about the engine, the upcoming four-cylinder 328d diesel and BMW's new suite of apps. According to what we saw, future Bimmers are going to get a lot more efficient and a whole lot more connected.
Related GalleryBMW 3-cylinder Prototype
There are only two 1 Series vehicles with the 3-cylinder engine in existence right now, they are both pure prototypes, with a reassuring fire extinguisher under the driver's seat. The only part that's "real" here is the engine, and even that will be upgraded before we see it in the i8. As it operates today the 3-cylinder performs admirably, propelling the 1 Series to highway speeds without hassle, even if it was somewhat noisy. It almost felt like BMW wants the driver to hear the three, to know that it's got your back even if it's also got fewer cylinders than you might expect. We didn't notice anything missing from the drive experience, but then again we only had about ten minutes behind the wheel. No, the star of the show is the engine's future potential, not what it can do today.
Holzer said the new 1.5-liter 3-cylinger engine is the first member of the new BMW EfficientDynamics engine family, and we can look at it today to learn a bit about how it'll work in the plug-in hybrid next year – and in other models beyond that, but no one would offer specifics. We can see Mini taking advantage of the three, as well as smaller BMWs. In some ways similar to Ford's 1.0-liter EcoBoost engine, the prototype engine uses TwinPower Turbo, which combines valve variability, direct injection and turbocharging to reduce fuel use. "Variability" in the TwinPower Turbo means, in gasoline engines, Valvetronic; in diesels, variable turbocharger geometry. While other automakers sometimes shut down entire cylinders during operation to save fuel, BMW's strategy is to use Valvetronic, which multiple BMW representatives referred to as the difference between fading a light versus switching it on and off. With this technology, among others, BMW says it is ready to meet worldwide fuel efficiency targets.
The only part that's "real" here is the engine, and even that will be upgraded before we see it in the i8.
The New 328d Diesel
Despite having a plethora of diesel options in Europe, BMW is being selective in which oil-burning models it will sell in the US. One of the new options we'll get is the 328d Sedan (a gasoline-powered Sports Wagen version will also be available), which was on display in New Jersey sporting underbody panels and the ability to drink biodiesel (up to B7), just to highlight the fuel economy angle. BMW didn't say what the official fuel economy numbers will be, but we were told something like 45 miles per gallon on the highway is likely.
This will be the first four-cylinder BMW diesel in the US and it will be capable of going 0-60 in the low seven second range. When it comes to options and trim levels, the diesel will get everything that the gasoline model has, except for a manual transmission. The reason is that BMW engineers feel that the diesel's eight-speed automatic transmission is the best blend of performance and economy. Price will be somewhere under $40,000. The Sedan and Sports Wagen go on sale in the US in the late summer or early fall.
The Connected BMW
BMW also highlighted its upcoming suite of new connection devices, ranging from a BMW app that will allow your car to read you texts out loud (and Twitter and Facebook, because those two services aren't omnipresent enough already, we need them to be blasted into our ears when we're on the road, apparently). More useful are things like access to Local Wiki and Last Mile, which help you find nearby places and information about where you are. The car can connect to various web radio and calendar functions as well.
To make all this work you not only need a compatible iPhone (3GS or newer running iOS 5 or newer. BMW says it is looking at developing an Android version, but it's not ready yet) but also the BMW Apps option (which costs $250). Oh, and the BMW Connected app from iTunes. Some apps available in the App Store today, like Pandora, Audible and Glympse, will be considered "BMW Ready," which means the standard version of the app will be able to communicate with your car, even without the BMW Connected app.
To make all this work you not only need a compatible iPhone but also the BMW Apps option (which costs $250).
Safety also gets an upgrade, with eCall with 10-year subscription becoming standard equipment on all new models. The subscription is also transferable when you sell the car. This is different from the optional BMW assist safety plan that is offered today (standard on the 5 Series, 6 Series, 7 Series, X5 and X6; costs $650 on other models). eCall operates both as a driver-controlled SOS call and as an automatic data delivery system in the event of a crash, where BMW's partners will gather data on what happened, try to call the car and send first responders if needed.
Lastly, BMW will introduce a dongle that will make the car an LTE hot spot. Details like price, data carrier and when it will launch were not disclosed, but basically, this is a MiFi-type device that plugs into your car and beams out a signal for passengers. It can also be used outside the car (with a 30-minute battery life or plugged in to the wall).
- New Partnerships with Audible, Glympse, Rhapsody and TuneIn.
- Demos of the full suite of BMW Approved Apps available for media at New York International Auto Show
"We regularly identify apps that our owners rely on as part of their everyday life, and adapt them for an in-vehicle experience they'll find safe, useful and engaging," said Phil Johnston, Product Manager for the BMW Group Apps Platform from the BMW Group Technology Office. "Audible, Glympse, Rhapsody and TuneIn were natural additions to the family of BMW Apps Ready Apps."
Johnston continued, "Integrating access to digital spoken-word content from Audible was the next logical way to expand audio entertainment for drivers. The ability to use the Glympse app from the existing vehicle controls enables drivers to share their whereabouts and ETA in a much safer way. Music is key to vehicle infotainment, and by partnering with Rhapsody, we are delivering music to our owners in user-friendly formats they prefer. With TuneIn, BMW drivers will not only get thousands of music radio stations, but also live sports, news and talk shows from around the world."
Previews of all four demo apps will be offered for media guests at the New York International Auto Show on the BMW stand March 27 and 28.
Audible: The leader in downloadable audiobooks and other audio content.
Audible is the world's largest producer and seller of digital spoken-word entertainment. Audible content comprises over 135,000 audio programs from more than 2,700 content providers, including leading audiobook publishers, broadcasters, entertainers, magazine and newspaper publishers and business information providers. Audible is the exclusive provider of downloadable audiobooks to Apple's iTunes store.
The addition of Audible's digital spoken-word content to BMW Apps marks the first time a graphical integration of the app is available in a vehicle's infotainment system. Using BMW Apps, Audible customers will be able to access their library through the BMW iDrive controls and menu display. With Audible's innovative Whispersync for Voice technology, BMW owners can also switch seamlessly between reading a book on their Kindle at home and listening to the companion audiobook in the car via their iPhone app-without losing their place. With Audible's suite of mobile apps, last listening position, bookmarks and notes are saved in the cloud, ensuring drivers always pick up where they left off when they open their iPhone app.
Glympse: GPS-driven location sharing.
Glympse's location-sharing application enables users to share their location with anyone for a specified period of time. Enabling access to this function through BMW Apps allows drivers to use the car's familiar controls to share their location and arrival time while en route, without the dangers of picking up their phone.
In use with BMW Apps, Glympse location information from the app is populated with options to share, pause or cancel the information through the BMW iDrive controller and screen. Drivers can opt to send the Glympse to other users via the app, using the phone's existing contact list, or their personal social media feeds (Facebook and Twitter).
Rhapsody: Subscription music service.
Rhapsody is the original premium, ad-free on-demand music service, with more than one million members, who can listen to more than 16 million tracks on their favorite device, including connected audio systems, smartphones, iPads and Android tablets, MP3 players, connected TVs, gaming consoles and in-car audio. Rhapsody offers the best music discovery tools, thanks to a team of renowned editors help guide members through Rhapsody's catalog spanning 600 genres with original features and content, including videos, playlists, reviews and radio stations for effortless listening and discovery. Rhapsody makes it easy to find the right song for every moment.
The Rhapsody iPhone app will be fully integrated into the BMW Apps system, meaning users will be able to not only use the vehicle controls to find and listen to their favorite tracks, but also navigate Rhapsody's music discovery tools, which have been adapted for in-car use.
TuneIn: The World's Radio.
TuneIn lets people listen to the world's music, sports, talk and news from wherever they are, with over 70,000 AM, FM, HD and Internet radio stations and more than two million on-demand programs streaming from every continent. The free service includes practically every genre of music, including decades stations, plus live sports, and nearly every podcast show. A free personal account helps drivers access their favorite stations, songs and programs across any device.
The BMW Apps integration will enable users to access the TuneIn app using infotainment controls of their vehicle, allowing them to navigate the world's radio from their car.
BMW Apps: The industry's most comprehensive smart phone
The BMW Apps option, available in model year 2011 and later BMWs enables the BMW driver to be more seamlessly connected than ever before using their Apple iPhone. Vehicle compatible apps like the BMW Connected App can be downloaded from the iTunes store, enabling customers to access Twitter and Facebook updates, listen to internet radio from around the world with Web Radio, and use the Last Mile feature to help find their parked vehicle. The calendar can also be accessed. Additionally, popular services like Pandora, MOG and Stitcher can be easily and safely streamed into and controlled by the BMW vehicle interface. The flexible design of BMW Apps allows unprecedented integration of smartphone functions, taking the in-car integration of iPhone, entertainment and online functions to a whole new level. BMW Apps adopts the familiar BMW display and controls to ensure that all functions can be operated comfortably, simply, safely and intuitively while minimizing driver distraction.
The iPhone is linked to the car through the center console either via the USB cable, supplied with the phone, or through an available snap-in adapter. Once connected, the phone can be stored away and all functions can be operated using the vehicle's iDrive controller, steering wheel buttons and on-board monitor.
BMW Group In America
BMW of North America, LLC has been present in the United States since 1975. Rolls-Royce Motor Cars NA, LLC began distributing vehicles in 2003. The BMW Group in the United States has grown to include marketing, sales, and financial service organizations for the BMW brand of motor vehicles, including motorcycles, the MINI brand, and the Rolls-Royce brand of Motor Cars; DesignworksUSA, a strategic design consultancy in California; a technology office in Silicon Valley and various other operations throughout the country. BMW Manufacturing Co., LLC in South Carolina is part of BMW Group's global manufacturing network and is the exclusive manufacturing plant for all X5 and X3 Sports Activity Vehicles and X6 Sports Activity Coupes. The BMW Group sales organization is represented in the U.S. through networks of 338 BMW passenger car and BMW Sports Activity Vehicle centers, 139 BMW motorcycle retailers, 116 MINI passenger car dealers, and 34 Rolls-Royce Motor Car dealers. BMW (US) Holding Corp., the BMW Group's sales headquarters for North America, is located in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey.