BMW first introduced the North American market to diesels way back in 1983, with the introduction of its 524td. Under the hood of the E28 5 Series was the automaker’s M21 turbocharged diesel, a 2.4-liter inline-six rated at 115 horsepower and 155 pound-feet of torque. It was mated to a standard four-speed automatic transmission. At the time, BMW claimed it was the world’s fastest production diesel-powered car, but its numbers (0-60 in about 12 seconds and a maximum speed of 112 mph) look rather pathetic today. It was sold for just one model year.
In a renewed effort to convince buyers that diesel was a sporty alternative to gasoline, BMW reintroduced a potent diesel powerplant to the States in 2009. It was the automaker’s M57 twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six rated at 265 horsepower and 425 pound-feet of torque. Mounted in the nose of the E90 3 Series sedan and mated to a six-speed automatic, the 335d helped the automaker redefine oil-burning performance (0-60 in 5.3 seconds with a top speed governed to 130 mph) here in America. The X5 35d crossover, fitted with the same engine and strong performance (0-60 in 6.9 seconds), soon followed.
But BMW doesn’t really need to prove diesel’s performance anymore, as fuel economy sells. With that comes the announcement of two fresh, and more efficient, oil-burning powerplants. A new turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder will likely be rated at 180 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque, while a new turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder is expected to make 255 horsepower and undisclosed torque. According to our sources, the 2.0-liter (similar to the one pictured above) will find its home in the 3 Series and X1, while the new 3.0-liter will replace the M57 under the hood of the X3 and X5 (with eight-speed gearboxes). Expect the engines to spread across the BMW lineup if well received.