BMW's stance on gearboxes unchanged
The technical chief at German luxury car maker BMW says that the company's future cars will be powered by three cylinders rather than nine or even more gears. The company remains adamant that its current policy on transmission is correct, with six-speed manuals, seven-speed dual-clutches and eight-speed automatics the perfect arrangement.
BMW's small and mid-size cars chief, Klaus Frolich, spoke about the subject at the recent launch of the 4-Series Gran Coupe and the X4. He said: "We ran some tests. The difference between an automatic with six speeds and eight speeds is 7% or 8%, which is a good result. But the benefit for nine speeds is almost 0%. Plus, it adds weight, complexity and cost, and with turbocharged engines you have a good spread of torque, so do not want to have the gearbox constantly changing its mind."
Mr Frolich remains sceptical about the gearbox policies of rival car companies such as Cadillac, Mercedes and Jaguar Land Rover, which are pursuing nine-speed - or more - transmissions.
When quizzed about the possibility of cars such as the 3-Series and the 5-Series getting three-cylinder engines, Mr Frolich said that he doubted Audi's prediction that this would become the norm in the next decade.
Instead, Mr Frolich forecasts that having small engines in large cars will only happen when the right moment for the buyer comes, claiming that most car owners are not interested in the number of cylinders anyway. The new MINI has shown the potential for three cylinders and it is easier for BMW to put a three-cylinder engine in a front-wheel drive vehicle.