• Nov 11th 2009 at 4:31PM
  • 36
BMW X5 xDrive35d – Click above for high-res image gallery

To mechanics of the Seventies, the phrase "Oldmobile 350 Diesel" is enough to cause heart palpitations. For many Americans, that particular engine was their first – and most definitely last – exposure to diesel. Doomed from the start by both a lack of a water-separator (you ever try compressing water?) and the head/headbolt pattern from the Olds 350 Rocket (which expanded from the heat of the non-compressible water), few engines have done more to destroy a brand's reputation quite as thoroughly as that engine. In many ways, General Motors is still paying for that corner cutting blunder.

But man, talk about unfair! First of all, those bad old GM diesels were designed and built over thirty years ago – much has changed. Furthermore, slightly more than half of all the cars sold in Europe today are glow-plugged oil burners. And diesel owners simply love their cars. Why not? Lots of torque, fantastic mileage and no spark plugs to change, ever. But we would be mistaken not to point out that there is a section of the automotive landscape still not smitten with diesels, despite all of these advancements. Who? Driving enthusiasts, that's who. Hey, it's hard to love a 4,500 rpm redline when all you want to do is pound it at 9/10s.

BMW is looking to change all that – at least partially. According to Erin Riches at Inside Line, the brand from Bavaria plans to introduce four-cylinder diesels mit turbos to the U.S. in a few years. Says Tom Baloga, vice president of engineering for BMW North America, "This engine needs to match the acoustic qualities of a six-cylinder, and it needs to match the performance, as well as performing better in terms of fuel economy and emissions."

You can expect to see these new engines in both the truckish X3 and X5, as well as the all important bread-und-butter 3 Series and maybe even the 5 Series. All we need to hear is the middle part, because if BMW puts the new four-banger turbodiesel in the 3 Series, the motor simply has to be sporty. Them's the rules. Note: the Inside Line article never explicitly mentions turbos, but does say, "Our four-cylinder diesel will be so good that people will readily accept it as a replacement for six-cylinders. The target is to produce enough horsepower to be comparable [in performance] to our N54/N55 six-cylinder turbos." So, obviously, these new diesel fours will get paired with some sort of forced induction goodness.

Can't wait? BMW already offers the stonking 335d in U.S. dealers right now.

[Source: Inside Line]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      So only the Germans are offering Diesel cars in America?
        • 5 Years Ago
        As far as I know yes, all the diesels in America come from Germany (VW, Audi, BMW, and MB).

        I have always been a fan of diesels, and the new Jetta we bought earlier this year (wife's car) is fantastic. It gets great mpg and is a hoot to drive (we got the 6 spd). Remember, it is much more fun to drive a "slow" car fast, then a "fast" car slow.
      • 5 Years Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      As a 2010 335d owner, BMW needs to market the hell out of these cars. I'd have bought a 320d if it was available here, but I believe the 335d we are limited to is a much better car overall than the 335i (just my opinion). 23mpg in town versus the 14 mpg my old 335i convertible, torque that will rip your pants off, and I just filled up at $2.79/gallon for diesel here in LA versus $3.19 for premium. This is by far the best car I've ever owned. Now if only other Americans would "get it."

      No need to hate diesel...I'm sure most diesel haters haven't even driven one!
        • 5 Years Ago
        Oops, when I posted a few minutes ago I had intended to reply to PJPHughes.

        ...so let me add...I also would have considered a 320d in place of 335d if the 4 cyl was available in USA market. I'm thrilled with my 335d and hope they don't do away with 6 cyl in USA when they introduce 4 cyl.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I just recently bought a 2009 335d and I couldn't be happier with it. I love the diesel engine, the fuel economy is great (I'm getting 30mpg in a good mix of city and highway), and it's terrific fun to drive. So while there are some people in the comments complaining, I put my money where my mouth is.

      The truth is BMW has 5 different diesel engines available in the 3 series ALONE in Europe, and they only brought one here, and it was the most powerful (least fuel efficient one). I really hope they bring more diesels here, the 23d motor (4cyl turbo) is awesome and would make a great powerplant for a 3 series in the US.

      And whoever is saying diesel costs 40c more in California than regular is shopping the wrong place. Three weeks ago diesel was cheaper than regular gas everywhere I checked, and now it's about the same price, or at most less than midgrade. And you really need to compare it to the price of Premium gas because that's what every petrol BMW needs. And according to various gas price websites, diesel is demonstrably cheaper right now.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Build us a turbo diesel electric hybrid BMW.
      • 5 Years Ago
      More than half of European cars are diesels... wow
        • 5 Years Ago
        half? who cares. it's bmw. the more relevant statistic relates to luxury cars, three quarters. And it's been that way for a while.
        Given how much of VW and Audi’s sales within models with diesel options are diesel sales, I don’t see bmw or any luxury brand with the know how having any issue moving significat portions of them relevant to their overall sales.
        • 5 Years Ago
        More than half (according to Eurostat, 54%) of new cars are diesel powered yes. Petrol cars are still more numerous in most european countries, while in others like Austria and Belgium the split is nearly 50/50. Diesel fuel make up the bulk of the petroleum products sold though since making a truck, van or pickup that runs on petrol would be stupid.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Someone has to start the trend and stick with it, too bad most Americans don't like the idea. Having a lot of diesel engines out there will do more good then any cash for clunkers program. Clean diesel, good gas mileage, long living engines. Win, win, win.
      • 5 Years Ago

      You are going to have to post up some proof concerning your numbers before I believe that any more than a fraction of VW sales are turbo diesels. (in the US at least)

      Do I believe that TDI sales are up overall?
      Sure, but making up ~40% of USDM sales? I find that number very hard to buy.

      If it was up to me, almost all F150s, Silverados and every other large truck would have a diesel engine - in that type of vehicle it makes a ton of sense... increase their usually pathetic mileage and the torque would come in extremely useful.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @Blown tranny - thanks.

        @Hazdaz - vw.com is your friend, especially their media section. Though the numbers i quoted should be no surprise to anyone reading autoblog as they've been over it before.

      • 5 Years Ago
      You do a lot of pounding it at 9/10 driving that X5, huh?
      • 5 Years Ago
      320d FTW! I can't wait. 50mpg and not having to drive a prius is a huge win.
      • 5 Years Ago
      oh god yes!

      I'm more than likely trading in my 03 Vibe next year for a brand new Golf TDI.
      I'm not the biggest fan of Volkswagen but they're growing on me - because they offer an affordable, manual transmission, 4-cyl diesel hatchback. There are NO other alternatives here in North America that meet that requirement...

      Mazda sounds like it'll offer some diesels here, and I definitely like hearing about BMW doing the same. Now, make it affordable ($55k cdn for the 335d is not affordable for us regular blue-collar types), and maybe stick it in the 1-series (give us the hatch version too!)... and you've got me sold! .. Though I suppose I could live with a regular 3-series diesel.. As long as they still offer it with a manual transmission. No stick = no sale to me.
      • 5 Years Ago
      "Our four-cylinder diesel will be so good that people will readily accept it as a replacement for six-cylinders. The target is to produce enough horsepower to be comparable [in performance] to our N54/N55 six-cylinder turbos." What he means by this is "we need to get our CAFE numbers up so pretty soon you won't have a choice."

      Also, why even speculate if the new diesel engines will be turbocharged? A four cylinder diesel without a turbocharger would be so slow it would almost be dangerous. Though four cylinder turbodiesel engines may match the specs of the gasoline sixes, there's something to be said about the intangibles - namely smoothness and engine noise. A four cylinder engine has one combustion stroke per crankshaft rotation and no amount of physics can overcome that.

      That being said, I definitely feel there is a place for these engines in the lineup as long as they keep the N54/N55 engines as an option.
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