BMW Gets 550 Miles per Tank

BMW wants you to know it’s paying attention. As a company whose cars are aimed at people who enjoy performance driving, some consumers may feel that it’s out of step with all things green.The Munich-based automaker has an answer to that: “EfficientDynamics” — two capitals, no space — which is public-relations speak for cars that burn less fuel but aren’t a total bore to drive.

Next week’s Frankfurt Auto Show will showcase a BMW concept vehicle powered by a three-cylinder turbo-diesel engine and two electric motors — basically a plug-in, hybrid sports car.

Cool stuff, but don’t look for it at your dealership next autumn. If you’re shopping for a fun, Earth-cuddling Bimmer today and not in a “Blade Runner” future, you’ll have to go old school, oddly.

Step one: Look at BMW’s best-selling models, the 3 Series and the X5 SUV, and then consider a fuel that most Americans gave up ages ago — diesel.

Both BMW diesels get the same engine, a 3.0-liter, twin- turbo, inline six-cylinder. The 335d wins the battle of the fun as it weighs some 1,400 pounds less than its big brother. As the most fuel-efficient BMW ever sold in the U.S., it drinks 23 mpg city and 36 highway, but still scoots to 60 mph in six seconds. That’s 10 mpg better than the gasoline engine on the open road.

BMW_Vision_EfficientDynamics_3

While it looks the same as the regular 3 Series, the driving experience is markedly different. The 335i gas version has a 300-horsepower, twin-turbo six, which soars to 7,000 rpm at redline and has a clean, endless stream of power. It practically sings arias.

Conversely, the diesel is all basso profundo, flush with power at the lower registers, but meek above 4,500 rpm. While it has only 265 horsepower, the massive 425 pound-feet of torque is available at a mere 1,750 rpm.

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