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BMW Enhances the 2011 3 Series; Direct Injection Twin-scroll Turbo I-6 for the 335i

BMW N55 inline six-cylinder gasoline engine with TwinPower Turbo and High Precision Injection and Valvetronic. Click to enlarge.

BMW has announced substantial enhancements to the 2011 3 Series Coupe and Convertible, including style updates for 328i and 335i models and an all-new direct gasoline injection turbocharged engine with Valvetronic for 335i models. The 2011 3 Series Coupe and Convertible models will go on sale in Spring 2010, and pricing will be announced closer to the on-sale date.

BMW 3 Series Coupe and Convertible customers have a choice of two inline-6 engines. The 328i features 230 hp (172 kW) while the 335i has 300 hp (224 kW) and is the first inline-6 equipped with a single twin-scroll turbocharger, BMW’s Valvetronic throttle-less intake technology, High Precision direct fuel injection, and all-aluminum construction. (The engine is also being applied in the 2011 135i Coupe and Convertible.)

Cutaway view of the direct-injection inline 6. Click to enlarge.

The 335i’s new inline-6 engine (designated N55) displaces 3.0-liters and develops its maximum output of 300 hp at 5,800 rpm—70 hp up on the 2011 328i models—with peak torque of 300 lb-ft (407 N·m) available all the way from 1,200–5,000 rpm. Redline is 7,000 rpm. This is the same level of performance as the previous 3.0-liter twin-turbo inline-6 but with the application of twin-scroll technology and the integration of Valvetronic, this new engine is more fuel efficient.

The 335i Coupe and Convertible can accelerate from 0 - 60 mph in 5.3 (5.5) seconds and 5.5 (5.7) seconds, respectively, when equipped with the manual (automatic) transmission.

The twin-scroll charger. Click to enlarge.

The new N55 is the first BMW inline-6 to combine turbocharging, High Precision direct fuel injection, and Valvetronic variable intake technology. It features a single, mid-sized turbocharger with a “twin-scroll” housing to boost performance and minimize the response lag. Thanks to its housing design which maintains proper separation between streams of exhaust gasses, the turbocharger builds up pressure much faster than previous-generation turbochargers, thus eliminating even the slightest tendency for lag.

The N55 turbocharged inline-6 weighs approximately 150 lbs. less than an equally powerful eight-cylinder engine displacing 4.0 liters. This lower weight means a significant advantage not only in fuel economy, but also in balancing the car’s weight distribution.

Using Valvetronic for the first time on a turbocharged inline-6 allows air intake combustion with virtually no delay and with reduced pumping losses. As a result, the engine makes power more quickly than ever before—shown by the N55’s ability to reach peak torque at 1200rpm, 200rpm earlier than its predecessor.

Turbocharging typically includes intercooling of the engine’s induction air, that is, cooling the compressed air that emerges, very much heated up by the compression process, from the turbocharger(s). Sometimes it’s done with coolant; in the case of the N55 engine, it’s accomplished with outside air.

Intercooling is necessary to reduce the temperature of the incoming air to preclude knocking that can reduce power or, in the extreme, damage the engine. The N55, like all other current BMW engines, is equipped with knock control as part of the Digital Motor Electronics (DME) engine management system. On the N55 engine, the DME is now mounted directly to the top of the engine for better packaging and weight savings.

The significant loads and cylinder pressures of the N55 300-hp engine required the use of an aluminum engine structure with cast-iron cylinder sleeves. Altogether, the N55 weighs about 427 lbs (194 kg). The 335i Coupe and Convertible dual exhaust system runs at both sides of the vehicle. At low loads, a flap channels most gas through one side to reduce low-frequency exhaust rumble. The 335i Coupe and Convertible feature an air-to-oil external oil cooler mounted in one wheel well as opposed to the N52’s coolant-to-oil unit.

The new N55 engine is also able to achieve a more favorable emissions signature than its predecessor. The single turbocharger has only one exhaust path and feeds a single catalytic converter in place of the previous engine’s two. This means the exhaust gases are concentrated at the catalytic converter for better cold-start emissions performance.

The N52. The 328i Convertible is powered by BMW’s 230 hp, 200 lb-ft, 3.0-liter inline-6 engine, known internally as the N52. Its magnesium/aluminum construction and Valvetronic variable valve lift are features found only on BMW engines. The N52 achieves impressive progress on all performance and technology fronts, especially in its remarkably light weight of 357 lbs. An aluminum/magnesium engine block, hollow camshafts, plastic camshaft cover, improved combustion chambers, a further evolved Double VANOS (VAriable NOckenwellen Steuerung = variable camshaft control, or variable valve timing), higher fuel injection pressure, sophisticated engine electronics, an electric coolant pump, a variable-volume oil pump and an oil/coolant heat exchanger are the other weight-saving features and improvements of this engine over previous generations.



Throttle-less intake technology - you gotta love it.

Obviously one way to minimize fuel consumption is if we all spend less time on the road.

What better way than to get to your destination faster by getting to full speed sooner.

I wonder what all this co$t$.

If you have to ask ....

Might be affordable, used - but umm magnesium/aluminum construction ? ?

Nick Lyons

It will be interesting to compare the fuel efficiency of the more powerful turbo-charged, DI N55 to the naturally aspirated, port injection N52. All in all, however, I'd go for one of their diesels if I were a player in this market.


I am impressed - I had thought the valvetrain enhancements for Valvetronic to be too bulky for integration with direct injection but it does look like they were able to repackage everything. Those cutaway images show just how packed the cylinder head is now!

DI + Valvetronic - I'd like to see it in a downsized engine to see how it compares to diesel for fuel economy. It can probably get pretty close. A 1 series with a 2.0L Inline 4 using a similar motor would have more than enough performance and surprisingly good fuel economy too, I bet.

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