| THE 3.0To those of us worshipping at the altar of performance, the new BMW power plant offers a new level of excitement and hightened performance. For some it stirs passion for a different reason, as they may see the value of their 2.5 and 2.8 liter engined cars fall. As the 323 is phased out and BMW moves to badging their cars 325 and 330, whatever type of emotion it makes you feel, the new engine is here to stay, so let’s learn more about it.The 1999 Engine of the Year Award given out by Wards Engine, an industry publication, was given to the BMW 2.8 liter motor. One would think BMW engineers would be satisfied. Wrong. In a 24 month development cycle, the Bavarian magic makers managed to impress us even more with the introduction of the brand new 3.0-liter 6 cylinder engine code named M54. This new unit was first introduced in May 2000 on the X5 SAV (Sports Activity Vehicle) and is now making its way down to our beloved 3-series line-up as well as the Z3 roadster and coupe.In the US, the new 3.0 liter 6 cylinder engine is rated at 225 hp @ 5900 rpm with torque being 214 lb-ft @ 3500. The European speced engine produces a maximum output 170 of kW / 231 bhp at 5900 rpm while the maximum torque is 300 Nm (221 lb-ft) from 3500 rpm, with 90% of this torque from just 1500 rpm. In addition to this increased output, the new engine is more compact and tidy: “All electric lines and wires are concealed within ducts designed with full attention to detail, all engine ancillaries blend harmoniously into the overall layout of the power unit dominated at the top by the intake manifold and valve cover.”|
So what’s changed on the new engine as compared to its predecessor?
The cylinder stroke is up from 84.0 to 89.6 mm, a modification calling for a new crankshaft but increasing size from 2.8 to 3.0 liters. This increase in capacity gives a 30% (8.5 kW/11.6 bhp) boost in engine power from previous 142 kW/193 bhp to the 170 kW/231 bhp now available.
In addition, the opening period of the intake valves extended by 12 degrees CS and the increase in valve lift by 0.9 mm.
BMWs double VANOS systems was improved and this resulted in another 12% (3.5 kW/4.8 bhp) to the increase in engine output.
Other features of the in-line 6 cylinder engine seen here in the cut-away view include and I quote:
· Both the chain drive of the camshafts as well as the V-belt drive of the ancillaries are maintenance-free and designed for the full life-cycle of the engine.
· There is no need to reset valve clearance, which is kept consistent throughout the entire running life of the engine by a self-adjusting hydraulic valve clearance mechanism.
· Similarly, there is no need to reset the clutch (self-adjusting).
· The air filters and spark plugs only have to be replaced after 100,000 km or 62,000 miles.
· The oil in the transmission and final drive is a lifetime filling not requiring any replacement.
· There is no need for any particular running-in service.
· The BMW Service Interval Indicator enhanced to an even higher standard than before also helps to minimize the cost of service by informing the driver of the remaining distance (in kilometers) until the next change of engine oil. The big advantage, obviously, is that you no longer have to change the oil after a fixed, rigid mileage. Rather, the system determines the oil conditions in accordance with the way the car has been driven, calculating exactly the right time for service. This gives the driver typically covering long distances an oil change interval of up 30,000 km, while the driver covering short distances in stop-and-go traffic most of the time may be informed of the need to change oil after, perhaps, 23,000 km.
· Recognizing all fuel grades between 87 and 98 octane, the engine is able to adjust accordingly, not suffering from the use of inferior fuel even when running consistently on such a lower fuel grade. Anti-knock control, a feature already to be found on all other BMW petrol engines, automatically adjusts the engine’s running conditions to the respective fuel grade and quality. The fact nevertheless remains that the maximum output of 170 kW/231bhp is only achieved when running on 98 octane fuel (premium plus).” VANOSWhen I first bought my car, I was very intrigued by the VANOS system seen below in a close up view of the engine. Actually, it was more along the lines of “Huh? What is it?” First off, the term “VANOS” is the abbreviation for Variable Nockenwellen-Spreizung or Variable Camshaft Adjustment which explains very little. Here’s a more in depth explanation:
Ever since its introduction in 1992 on the BMW M50 power unit, this technology has been acknowledged as a milestone in the development of the combustion engine. BMW engineers succeeded for the first time in developing a system suitable for large-scale production and able, through its qualities, to significantly enhance emission management, output and torque, idling quality and fuel economy all in one.
The VANOS system is based on an adjustment mechanism able to modify the position of the camshaft versus the crankshaft, thus providing the essential technology for variable valve timing. When used for the first time, the system featured only two-stage adjustment of the intake camshaft. Then, moving on to the next step in a consistent process of evolution, BMW’s engineers created the current solution with infinite adjustment of the intake and outlet camshaft – which explains the name double-VANOS.
What are the practical implications of double-VANOS?
The fundamental advantage is that the system controls the reflow of hot exhaust gases into the intake manifold individually for all operating conditions (i.e., for every conceivable combination of engine load and speed). This we refer to as “internal” exhaust gas recirculation allowing very fine dosage of the amount of exhaust gas recycled. While the engine is warming up, VANOS improves the fuel/air mixture and helps to quickly warm up the catalytic converter to its normal operating temperature. When the engine is idling, in turn, the system keeps idling speeds smooth and consistent thanks to the reduction of exhaust gas recirculation to a minimum. Under part load exhaust gas recirculation is increased to a much higher level, allowing the engine to run on a wider opening angle of the throttle butterfly in the interest of greater fuel economy. And under full load, finally, the system switches back to a low recirculation volume providing the cylinders with as much oxygen as possible.
Streamlining the intake and exhaust manifolds
Seeking to keep flow losses to a minimum and maximize the cylinder charge, the intake and exhaust manifolds as well as all other components crucial to the flow of intake air have been newly streamlined in a process also ensuring an optimum resonance effect. While this may not sound that spectacular, this improvement alone contributes no less than 57% (16 kW/22 bhp) to the increase in engine output.
Fully electronic throttle butterfly
To allow even finer and more sensitive dosage of the gas pedal above all in stop-and-go motoring and to ensure an immediate response of the car whenever the driver wishes to enjoy supreme performance, the throttle butterfly previously operated by an electromechanical system has now been replaced by a fully electronic version.A principle of this technology has been carried over directly from BMW’s 12-cylinder power unit, avoiding any mechanical link between the gas pedal and throttle butterfly: The system recognizes the gear in which the car is driving and is thus able to activate an individually programmed throttle butterfly control line for each gear, providing the positive effects already described. A further advantage of the electronic throttle butterfly is that the transition from, say, overrun to part load and vice versa is even more harmonious and smoother than ever before. This increase in motoring comfort also pays off when driving the car with cruise control, a function also integrated within the electronic throttle butterfly. A positive side effect, finally, lies in the reduction of gas pedal forces thanks to the omission of the conventional mechanical linkage bars.
Same superior fuel economy despite the enormous increase in power
Normally an increase in engine size will mean an increase in fuel consumption. But this is not the case here: Reducing piston friction, cutting back the engine’s idle speed, and optimizing the valve timing, BMW’s engineers have succeeded in keeping fuel consumption in the European combined cycle to the same low level as before on the smaller engine.
Emissions far below the strict D4 and ULEV standards
The position of the exhaust gas catalytic converters close to the engine has been carried over from the former power unit, the cell density of the metal-based monolithic bodies being increased and their wall thickness reduced. These modifications alone serve to increase the geometric surface area by 25% and enable the catalytic converter to warm up even more quickly and efficiently than before.
328 vs 330Nothing stirs more controversy than the “Mine’s better than yours” type screaming matches among the supporters of the 323 and the 328. Bringing in the 330 will surely add fuel to the already raging inferno. How does the 328Ci compare to the 330Ci? Here’s what BMW says:
“Even more than in the past, the re-tuned exhaust system with resistance and back pressure reduced to a minimum underlines the car’s outstanding performance through its powerful and muscular sound. The exhaust thus gives the driver an immediate sense of any change in performance and driving characteristics, without at any time creating an unpleasant or noisy sound.
The entire brake system is matched to this increase in performance, with brake disc diameter up from 300 to 326 mm (11.81-12.83″) at the front and 294 to 320 mm (11.57-12.60″) at the rear. Inner-vented both front and rear, the brake discs are also thicker than before, up by 3 mm to 25 and, respectively, 22 mm (0.98″/0.87″). To provide adequate space for the larger brake system, the 330Ci comes with 17-inch wheel rims.
Power assistance to the steering has been further improved in order to provide low steering forces throughout the entire speed range, including parking and maneuvering. Clearly, the steering still responds with the same precision to the driver’s commands, handling is just as agile and the steering feel retains that typical BMW touch, giving the driver a perfect feeling of the road. (Incidentally, this modified power assistance will be featured as of June 2000 on all versions of the 3 Series and with all the engines available.)
On the 5-speed automatic Steptronic model, the top speed of 247 km/h (153 mph) now comes in fifth gear and not, as in the past, in fourth. Together with the final drive ratio shortened, this improves the car’s acceleration when setting off by no less than 22 % versus the former 328Ci fitted with automatic transmission. The difference in acceleration from 0 – 100 km/h between the automatic and manual gearbox models is now only 0.5 sec (7.0 versus 6.5 sec) – an improvement by over 50% in comparison with the respective versions of the 328Ci.
The 330Ci featuring automatic transmission thus offers virtually the same performance on the road as the manual model, meaning that the purchaser wishing to enjoy the amenities of automatic transmission need not accept any significant decrease in driving dynamics. I think this statement is subjective and will long be debated by the proponents of the manual transmission.
The exterior features distinguishing the 330Ci from its 328Ci predecessor are:
· 17-inch double-spoke light-alloy wheels running on 205/50 R 17 tires
· Titanium-colored headlight lenses on the main beams and foglamps
· A Titanium-colored air scoop on the front air dam
· Chrome covers on the double-chamber tailpipe
Inside the car, matte-chrome-colored surrounds on the four circular instruments.” The 323Ci vs. 328Ci vs. 330Ci
|Here’s how the 323Ci stacks up against the 328Ci and the 330Ci. The top speeds are the same due to electronic control, and the numbers in brackets represent figures for cars with Steptronic transmission.|
|323Ci328Ci330CiMSRP$28,990$33,990$35,560HP170hp / 5500rpm193hp / 5500rpm225hp / 5900rpmMax Torque181lb / 3500rpm206lb / 3500rpm214lb / 3500rpmBore / Stroke (in.)3.31 / 2.953.31 / 3.313.31 / 3.53Top Speed128mph128mph128mph0-60mph7.1 (8.2)6.6 (7.2)6.4 (7.0)50-75mph (4th / 5th)8.4 / 10.8 6.9 / 9.1Weight3153 (3213)3197 (3256)3351 (3395)Fuel EconomyCityH’way20 (19)29 (27)CityH’way21 (18)29 (27)CityH’way21 (19)30 (27)|
|Based on these numbers alone, spending $6K more will be hard to justify, however, I reserve judgement until I drive the 330. The prognosis for it is excellent. With the larger engine, good looks and the technology behind it, this car continues to build the 3 series legend. Kudos to BMW.|