Mercedes, BMW United By The Fours

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

CAR Magazine has been covering the ongoing collaboration negotiations between BMW and Mercedes for some time. As usual, nothing unites like a common enemy, and the longtime rivals have been brought together by the looming leviathan that is the new Porsche-VW alliance. But partnership does not come easily after decades of fierce competition. CAR speculates on the possible causes of ongoing difficulties thusly: “Maybe it’s a mutual case of ‘not invented here’. Maybe it’s what decades of ingrained rivalry does to you. Or a mix of shortsightedness, ignorance and stubborness. Perhaps a combination of the above.” Whatever the cause, BMW and Mercedes have yet to finalize any plans to share M-B’s new M295 all-aluminium V12. Is BMW, like McLaren, suffering from a restrictive Daimler contract with Aston-Martin? We’ll may never know. What is clear is that Mercedes needs a new corporate four-banger for its burgeoning small-car portfolio. The current C-class four is “too big, too heavy and too expensive” say CAR, and a new, shared four-cylinder could be jointly developed for Benz’s A-, B-, C-, E- and GLK-classes, and BMW’s 1-, X1, 3, X3, and MINI models. If no German alliance forms, PSA and Fiat are waiting in the wings, hoping to snag a technical partner for their own next-gen four-bangers. Meanwhile, “other collaboration opportunities between Munich and Stuttgart include more pace-setting hybrid modules, more efficient dual-clutch and automatic transmissions, advanced driver assistance systems and a highly flexible small car concept.” No mention yet of the Sudetenland.

Edward Niedermeyer
Edward Niedermeyer

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  • JEC JEC on Oct 08, 2008

    Does anyone have a really jaw-droppingly good base naturally aspirated four cylinder out there? They are all pretty whitebread. And why not? They make fours for cheapskates, the Euro market, and mile crunchers (no offence, base model owners of the world) - they'd much rather upsell you to a nice loaded 6 or 8 cylinder (or a four with forced induction) that has a significantly higher profit margin.

  • Barberoux Barberoux on Oct 08, 2008

    BMW’s 1 series should have been a turboed 4 cylinder basic sedan evoking the 2002 model basic sport sedan philosophy. As it is it’s a shrunken 3 series that costs nearly as much with less room. It has no separate identity.

  • John Horner John Horner on Oct 08, 2008

    "Does anyone have a really jaw-droppingly good base naturally aspirated four cylinder out there?" Perhaps Honda? 201 SAE net horsepower from a normally aspirated 2.4l engine (TSX version) is pretty respectable. Dual overhead cams and variable valve timing give a reasonably flat torque curve as well. Not exactly bargain bin engineering or construction.

  • Psarhjinian Psarhjinian on Oct 08, 2008
    “Does anyone have a really jaw-droppingly good base naturally aspirated four cylinder out there?” Honda and Toyota, both. The Honda K- (RSX, TSX, Accord) and R-Series (non-Si Civic) or Toyota ZZ (2ZZ-GE, Celica, Elise), ZR (Corolla 1.8) and AZ (Camry, RAV) are all quite good. Heck, even the pedestrian forms are decent performers for the level of economy they give. They're not direct-injected marvels, but they're simple and robust. Of course, the Germans can't have simple--they'd have to clutter it up somehow to eke out that last little bit of [s]engineering penis length[/s]capability.