BMW's amazing new 381 bhp 740 Nm 45 mpg triple turbo diesel (and four cars that will get it)


January 26, 2012

BMW M Performance TwinPower Turbo Engine Six-Cylinder Diesel - (N57S)

BMW M Performance TwinPower Turbo Engine Six-Cylinder Diesel - (N57S)

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BMW M Performance is adding four new models to its product range, all powered by a new triple-turbocharger, piezo direct injection, three liter diesel motor that looks to be a contender for the engine of the year already - 280 kW, 740 Nm, instantaneous response, very economical, low emissions. The new BMW M550d xDrive, M550d xDrive Touring, X5 M50d and X6 M50d models will be seen first at the Geneva Motor Show in March with availability just a few weeks later.

The engine in BMW's new diesel M cars appears to be a ripsnorter - 3.0-litre six cylinder with three turbochargers, common-rail direct injection with piezo injectors, a very healthy maximum power output of 280 kW (381 bhp), but with abundant torque (740 Newton metres - 546 lb-ft) and instantaneous response

The dyno charts say it all. Look at that flat torque plot between 2000 rpm and 3000 rpm - 740 Newton meters of torque is almost an obscene amount of torque. It will give you goose-bumps. It is a performance motor that will almost certainly power next year's Dakar cars.

The key to the incredible performance of the engine is inaptly named M Performance TwinPower Turbo technology. That's because they found that two turbochargers worked so well together, that they have now employed three for the first time.

The system uses two smaller turbochargers and one large one, with the right diameter turbo being used at precisely the time when it is most efficient. Another reason why three turbos is better than two is that the low moment of inertia of the small turbochargers means they do not suffer from the lag of a larger single turbo.

if the interplay between the strategy of the turbos are designed to guarantee maximum power delivery across a wide rev band. The system comprises two relatively small turbochargers and one large turbo, which join forces precisely to deliver the amount of power required.

In the machines that are being released, the 280 kW engine delivers very respectable figures. All cars are electronically limited to 250 km/h, but the acceleration figures tell the tale.

The BMW M550d xDrive Sedan will accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 4.7 seconds - that's rapid for a car of this price that can still inspire confidence and safety when dropping the kids at school.

The M550d xDrive Touring does the 100 km/h dash in 4.9 seconds, the heavier X5 M50d and X6 M50d in 5.4 seconds and 5.3 seconds respectively.

The performance of the six-cylinder in-line diesel is only half the equation though.

Extensive application of BMW EfficientDynamics technology including an auto Start-Stop function have yielded some excellent fuel consumption and CO2 emission figures.

The BMW M550d xDrive Sedan with its lighter weight and lower frontal area, returns the best of the bunch with 6.3 litres/100 kilometres (44.8 mpg imp) and CO2 emissions of 165 g/km.

It's interesting to note the rapid fuel consumption dropaway with the extra weight - the similarly sized BMW M550d xDrive Touring returns consumption of 6.4 litres/100 kilometres (44.1 mpg imp) and CO2 emissions of 169 g/km, while the heavier BMW X5 M50d returns 7.5 litres/100 kilometres (37.7 mpg imp) and 199 g/km. The slightly sleeker and marginally lighter BMW X6 M50d fares little better at 7.7 litres/100 kilometres (36.7 mpg imp) and CO2 emissions of 204 g/km.

These cars come with a significant boost in performance and hallmark M precision in the interplay of the powertrain, chassis and aerodynamics - coupled with unrestricted everyday utility and high levels of efficiency.

The new powerplant strikes the most effective balance between output and fuel consumption of any series- produced unit of its kind.


A three turbo BMW? Buy More Warranty!


I LOVE the fact that this gets great mileage, low emissions, and lots of power but I\'m about sick to death of CO² being talked about like it\'s a pollutant! I wish there was some one out there that could purposely tune a motor to make more CO² and show it to get better fuel economy for doing it? I would love to see what the hard core environmentalists would say to that! Oh well still a nice engine I hope we can get it here in the U.S. :-)


And I am sick to death of people making out like CO2 is not a pollutant. CO2 is a pollutant - read the science and stop peddling misinformation

Aaron Metcalfe

But the less fuel burnt per km driven will result in less pollutants (or by product if that\'s how you want to call it) per km. Exhaust gasses are caused by burning fuel. Less fuel = less out the tail. I\'m not sure how you would propose to produce more exhaust and yet consume less fuel. That sounds like it ignores some fundamental physics unless you can somehow use fusion or fission to alter the fuel components at an atomic level and convert some carbon to oxygen or sulphur.

Here is another set of cars that I can\'t afford but do what I want from a car.


Nice work BMW, just a shame this will only belong to the uber-rich.


The 7.5l/km is impossible for the X5, maybe for the highway, but this is not fare to anounce that way. It\'s a tipical german fake. X5 need about 13l/km in a medium circle and the new one will have just half? Imposible.

Iosif Olimpiu

When I moved to Panama I first drove the typical Hyundai/ Toyota/Nissan offerings. I tried a diesel BMW X5 after moving to the mountain area. I now understand the meaning of \"Ultimate Driving Machine\" Phenomenal. I now lust for the triple turbo version.

Stanley Kwiecien

Aaron, CO2 is not now or has ever been a pollutant! Read a book some time. You do know you breath out CO2 don't you? Just say'n! LOL! :-)


You do know why you breath out CO2 right, If not try taking deep breaths of it for a change of pace.


Fantastic!!I hope they make a Coupe version.

Stanley Owens

High performance, luxury and great fuel economy - now that\'s what I\'m talkin\' about

Douglas Shackelford

Monoxide is a by-product of the fuel particles being super-heated and/or changed due to pressure. I still question whether it\'s harmful or not since those particles do store more heat... but isn\'t that how our planet was created? Remember... a meteor of ice hit us and THEN everything started to grow and form. Otherwise Earth was just hot rock... but pressurized.

Gasoline is used because it has the easiest and most efficient way of creating pressure (so far). BUT, in the rules of physics, entropy is responsible for much of the loss of power. It\'s why nothing is even 25% efficient after use. Controlling the entropy of atoms/particles would then give us near 100% efficiency. So far the only way that has been done was by bringing temperatures down to \"absolute zero.\" Even then entropy remains. Temperature is the measurement of an atoms movement since movement creates heat. Entropy basically means \"particles are moving.\" It creates pressures you fee when you walk out of some buildings or stadiums. It\'s random, though. Thus, the explosions in cylinders are hardly efficient at all. No two particles will go the same direction to push the piston back down. In thermodynamics, everyone loses... :-P So as a re-cap, BMW is trying to make their cars more efficient by adding more pressure into the cylinders to create a harder/bigger explosion. I guess I could see that as a better option but that means you\'ll always have 3 turbo charges moving more than usual to create more pressure when cruising... seems too risky with all of those moving parts.


Man, what an engine, with not one, but three potential trouble making turbos. All that horsepower and they put it in a totally unhip, blanderized, OK...unattractive body. But I suppose there are families who need that to get to soccer practice.

Robert Fox

C02 is a green house gas which contributes to global warming. That is its onus.


You breathe out CO2, but where does it come from? Food. Food comes from renewable sources. The sources are crops that are harvested are grown again. CO2 that is emitted by cars does not have the same source, i.e. it is non-renewable fuel. That what is not renewed does not come back and stays there in the atmosphere, increasing net CO2. Everyone who has even a basic grasp of science knows that leads to overall higher global temperatures as it is a greenhouse gas like methane and even water.

Think about the chains and cycles in the world, they are all interconnected. When it is disturbed, it shifts to a new equilibrium.

Anyway, nice car. :)

Fretting Freddy the Ferret pressing the Fret

If there is no sound - and a diesel hasn\'t got any sound at all - there is no emotion.

Ain\'t cars with engines strong as this meant to be sold by emotions?

Who should buy such a car that\'s worth a house? The design is super boring, the driving performance is ultra-weak if you want to reach the promised low fuel consumption.

If you want to drive with verve, this engines consumes much more than 15 litres per 60 miles. I had the pleasure to testdrive the x5 triple turbo diesel. I drove it in Bavaria, and I did it sporty but not race-like. Consumption was 25l/60miles. Any questions?


CO2 is naturally present in the atmosphere. Having more of it means plants grow better. The problem comes when it traps heat that, if left unchecked, will eventually wipe out mankind in a very short time (1000 years). The CO2 itself is innocuous. The answer is to put up very large opaque balloons into orbit around the equator to absorb or reflect a tiny proportion of the sun\'s radiation back into space.


Hope the technology trickles down to models most of us can actually afford instead of dreaming about. Unless it\'s a huge pick up truck,Americans won\'t buy diesels. Then again diesel fuel is now .80 more a gallon in the U.S.


Imperial gallons are larger than US gallons, by about 1 US quart. Thus, US mpg is 37.34 for the sedan, 36.75mpg for the Touring (wagon), 31.36mpg for the SUV and 30.55mpg for the X6, at least as presented in the article. I got these figures from:

I don\'t know if any country uses MPG (IMP) anymore. Canada doesn\'t use it, but the USA continues to use inches, miles, gallons (US) and MPG as defined above. I learned the difference in US and Imperial gallons, from a stay in Canada, before that country went metric. Weight is the major killer of mileage, those figures for the 2 SUVs are much better than the equivalent US gasoline models.

Bob Pegram

BMW is an innovative company that, like other companies, pushes automobile technology forward. I have owned and driven several, and they always satisfied. I drove a 3 series diesel normally aspirated and was very pleased with its performance. Keep pushing technology BMW.

I have read both sides over and over with this Global Warming. The unfortunate thing is the argument is so emotional that people who think with their hearts are immediately on board even if it\'s wrong. What CO2 is bad and will kill us all? Aaaggggghhhh stop it at any cost. The noted scientists who disagree with the whole theory are marginalized. Understand also that it is a \"theory\" based on computer models. Since when have computer models been infallible? So many variables including many we probably aren\'t aware of and in the final analysis it is always GIGO.

I believe the globe is in a warming trend after which it will be in a cooling trend. If Climate was static we wouldn\'t be having this discussion. More CO2 should support more plant life and the warming should support more agriculture. When the earth begins heading for another mini ice-age you can bet there will be plenty saying the opposite of what we hear now.

If someone would explain how the earth between (approx) 800-1200 AD was warmer than it is now and then all of the sudden plunged into an ice-age it would answer a lot of questions. No doubt those nasty Vikings were using too many CFCs which caused the warming but how did it correct without our help? Great book SuperFreakonomics has some information from some of the best minds on the subject.

Dr. Veritas

I just can\'t see the point of BMW\'s urge to build more and more powerful engines.

Just completed a 1000+km drive through Germany in a car that can do 140mph and on roads where at least on some bits there is no speed limit. My GPS tells me that the average achieved was 94kmh!

Also, the last time I drove in the USA I was pulled over on a stretch of road where there was nothing for 100km either way (my interpretation) because I was going to fast, doing about 70mph.

I sold my last muscle car because in Europe at least you loose your license faster speeding then you can say 380HP.


So, if you take 381 bhp and divide it in half, put that half-sized diesel engine in a Prius body, you\'d still get 190 bhp and 90mpg.

How far off am I? Would a system like this benefit from a hybrid electric secondary motor, or would the extra mass kill any benefits?


@jimbo, why the heck would you put that in a Prius body? Something as masculine and awesome as this engine does not belong in a decidedly un-masculine Prius. And second, how well do you think a three cylinder with three turbos will run? Six divided by two equals three, you know. There is no point to hybrids anymore. This thing has start-stop technology, which is way better than a gigantic battery and sluggish electric motors.

How did this turn into a co2 argument? Stop being a bunch of Nancies and just admire an awesome engine. If BMW would relax their engines a bit they would achieve much better mpg\'s. Their red line on the rpm is at like 7,000. I regularly pass where the red line would be on any other car in mine driving normally. If they didn\'t have such low gearing they would have a ton better gas milage.

Ethan Brush

How about overall reliability?! Will we see/read an independent reliability report? I love the engine\'s creators achievements, they are great people, I know competition is breathing in their necks, etc., BUT I need the most reliable vehicle for my family and me...

It is not fair to quote only the highway mileage... Cars are used in cities, starting cold engines, driving short distances... THAT fuel consumption is even more important, I believe.

Volodya Kotsev

Bulent Sisman. TurkiA : Is there a need for this force? How mental is that?


Looks like the BMW designers have come up with a world-beating engine (for now).

All they need now is a styling department thet\'s not overrun with guide-dogs....


More power in an already owerpowered car is such a waste in so many ways. The worst kind of waste maybe is those engeneers that could make something sensible that really lowers humanitys footprint in the long run. 381 bhp is about 3 or 4 TIMES more power than this size of car actually would need and it would be nice (but probably not possible) to scale this down and make an 95 bhp machine that uses 1.6 l/100km but what it really means when they combine this machine and body is that this engine will work at about 10% of its capacity during, say, 98% of it lifespan and it would probably never ever deliver more than 50% because the ESP system won´t allow it. But selling cars is not about making sense it is about making petrolheads feel mighty and until that changes we will see more cars like this one. It makes me sad and it should also make the engineers at BMW sad.

Conny Söre

Some of the comments are ridiculous. Firstly CO2 is 100% a pollutant the debate weather it has any effect on the climate is a different matter. Aaron Metcalfe- was loving the use of the word ignorance, as actually fuel consumption can be reduced by increasing CO2, as an engineer myself I have done research on methods such as the use of CDPF which which reduces CO2 but does increase fuel consumption, so who is the ignorant one now? The car is a great achievement, when you consider the real world performance especially of the SUV\'s it is quite astounding. The use of try-turbos also looks as though it will become a trend the likes of Porsche are testing the same for the next 911 turbo and GT2/GT2rs.


Actually... without a certain amount of \"greenhouse gasses\" we would be non-existent: the Earth would be an icicle. CO2 is one of those gases.

Just pointing that out.

Darren Johnson

ALL fossil fuel burning engines produce Co2! Get off the Co2 wagon because EVERYTHING you use over the course of the day creates Co2 directly or indirectly. The point here is that this incredible machine makes more HP and torque and produces lower Co2 than anything else even close. It\'s COOL to see a diesel making sports car headlines.

@ Robert Allan Fox Trouble making turbos? I\'d like to know where those trouble making turbos are? Honestly, I am a die hard diesel fan, and I just haven\'t seen it. Even in pulling trucks that have been abused way beyond their specified intention, the turbos are darn near bullet proof.

@ jimbo and others why not make a small two cylinder diesel engine that ran a constant 1500 rpms and turned a generator which powers electric motors in a car? Al a locomotives. We see this arrangement on warning signs. Those 30hp engines run a week on a tank of fuel (10 gallons US? give or take)

The generator could power the wheels as needed, and charge a battery when consumption levels off (hwy use). No charging stations, exceptional range, no electronic trickery. I just don\'t get why it is so difficult? No it isn\'t entirely independent of fossil fuel, but it greatly reduces total emissions, provides limitless transportation, and is easily repairable at EXISTING repair shops.

These cars wouldn\'t win races, but they could/would be cheap reliable transportation...


umm nevermind my hybrid car comment, I see Peugeot is marketing just that. This seems to be the \'smart car\' of the future!


My god there's some miserable sods about! 'it's too powerful' 'why why why' 'BMW engineers should do this, do that'! Hey while we're at it lets get rid of formular one and rid the world of any development in new technology that ultimately improves everything as time goes on! Of course with this incredible new engine there will be millions made and every model of BMW will have one, that's the only engine they'll produce! NOT!! In reality it will make up such a small proportion of total BMWs sold its not worth worrying about. We could all drive around in the same car that is super economical and mind numbingly boring but thankfully we have choice! Mines a BMW 335d with 350bhp 700nm and I certainly don't find that too much, I will however be upset if the new 3 series isn't fitted with this new 381bhp 740nm beast! :-)

Toby Carter

Dr. Veritas, while I appreciate your scepticism on the subject of global warming i cannot present in any nicer, or any more certain terms that you are indeed completely wrong in your assessment of the global warming problem. The truth remains that it was not warmer during 800 - 1200 AD because for one it didn't occur between 800 and 1200 AD it occurred between 950 AD and 1250 AD any encyclopedia or google search or... well, any resource would tell you that. but you like to throw uninformed facts around so I shall continue. A recent study evaluating the fat molecules of algae growing in a high arctic lakes revealed that it was in fact much cooler during the medieval warming period than previously thought disproving your "theory". I can also tell you with 100% certainty that the medieval warming period remained localized to areas of western europe including Iceland and Greenland, and was most likely caused by a temporary shift in the worlds ocean oscillation that may have been brought on by a change in ocean salinity or just and unusual variation. This localized phenomenon is no different to a strong El-nino event which is a warming of the pacific ocean. furthermore if you would read into anything, you would know that CFC's contribute to a reduction in the ozone layer that because of wind currents remains centralized over the Antarctic and has actually caused a dramatic increase in the amount of ice cover. disproving your viking comment. As a Doctor you have probably written some well informed papers on other subjects so I am very much suprised at your lack of attention to detail on this subject. to dispel some of your other myths you're trying to force onto people here we go: CO2 is a pollutant Experiments with CO2 and their "greenhouse" affect drew scientists around the world to come to their conclusion NOT computer models warming does not support more agriculture because with it comes a less predictable climate, resulting in more dry spells or wet spells, as you may have witnessed recently with the rain in the UK and the dry spell in the US corn belt this summer. and where do you get off taking your global warming advice from an economist and a journalist.... they know nothing about meteorology and climatology or anything.... you are so ignorant...

Ben Beardsall
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