BMW’s 3-Cylinder B38 Engine Wins Ward’s 10 Best Engines Award

BMW B38 engine 1 photo
Photo: bmw
The world knows it as the ‘heart’ of the new Mk3 2015 MINI Cooper hardtop but we know that it has many more uses, in a variety of cars across the MINI and BMW range. The B38 3-cylinder 1.5-liter mill the engineers from Munich created just won a Ward’s 10 Best Engines award from WardsAuto World.
The ceremony of actually handing the trophy over will take place on January 14th, at a ceremony during the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

"While being loads of fun to drive, MINI’s 1.5L 3-cylinder engine enabled every WardsAuto editor to achieve at least 30 mpg (7.8 L/100 km),” said Tom Murphy Executive Editor of WardsAuto World digital magazine.

“One editor said he couldn’t imagine buying a MINI with any other engine. There was a time when people bought underpowered 3-cylinder engines out of economic necessity. MINI turns that legacy on its ear by demonstrating a base engine can totally sell a vehicle. With a starting price just under $21,000, the MINI Cooper Hardtop with the 3-cylinder engine is the smart choice,” he added.

Of course, that engine is also available on other cars, as we mentioned before but it’s only available for sale in the US in the MINI Cooper guise. Europeans also get it on the new 2 Series Active Tourer and the recently-announced BMW 218i Coupe.

As for the award, it is one of the most prestigious in the business, being handed over for 21 years now, recognizing the latest powertrain technologies that are affordable to most consumers. Of course, other characteristics have to be kept in mind as well, such as delivering ample horsepower and torque, efficiency, sound appeal and the way they work with their respective cars.

The 1.5 Liter 3-cylinder MINI TwinPower Turbo Technology has revolutionized our entry-level MINI Cooper Hardtop’s performance by increasing torque by 42%, reducing 0-60 acceleration time by 2.3 seconds and improving fuel efficiency by as much as 8% vs. the previous generation 4 cylinder engine,” said Pat McKenna, Department Head, Product Planning & Events, MINI USA.

“The BMW Group engineers did a masterful job with the performance and efficiency but, more importantly, with the surprisingly deep resonant sound this engine makes,” he added.

And he’s right. The one thing we learned about this engine is that it has a special sound that mimics the one of more traditional setups from BMW like a 3-liter inline 6-cylinder version. That’s because it is basically half of such an engine and you can hear and feel it.
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