BMW's new 2-litre engine for the 3 Series owes a small part of its development to Rover's K-series engine. The revised 318i's 1,995cc engine (replacing the 1,895cc) and a 1.8-litre version in the Compact 316ti are built at Hams Hall, BMW's engine plant in the West Midlands.
It features Valvetronic which BMW describes as equivalent to the leap from carburettors to fuel injection. In 1995, engineers from BMW and Rover started work on turning the concept into reality.
Rover's initial involvement meant the engine – which would have been used in Rovers – can be installed transversely for front-wheel drive or in-line for BMW's rear-wheel drive cars.
The technology, replacing the traditional throttle, will be used across BMW's family of engines over the coming years. Fuel economy drove Valvetronic development and it improves fuel consumption by 10%. With other changes, the new engine is 14% more economical than its predecessor. Top speed is up by 8mph to 136mph.
Prices are increased by 1.5% with the 318 (traditionally the best seller) costing from £19,930 for the 318i to £22,185 for the SE automatic. The new 318Ci convertible costs £24,945.
BMW is also introducing a Formula 1-style sequential manual gearbox (SMG) with paddle controls on the steering wheel to change gear.
This will become available from January on the 325i and 330i at about £1,700. The anticipated take-up is 30% on the 325i and 40% on the 330i.