A recent BMW CGI presentation revealed how the brand's upcoming 3-cylinder engine is basically devised from splitting an inline 6-pot in two, which you can see in the CGI animation video posted above.
That upcoming engine will feature Twin Power turbocharging technology which should make the 1.5 liter unit good for around 110 kW / 150 PS - a proper fit for an entry-level variant of the upcoming 2012 3-Series.
But the video shows the power plant being mounted transversely into an engine bay and BMW sources have told Autocar that there are issues involved in fitting that new 3-cylinder engine into the next 3-Series.
BMW customers may balk at what has always been an longitudinally-mounted engine in a rear-wheel drive 3-Series. BMW also says there are costs involved in making the modifications required to mount the 3-cylinder transversely in the next 3er.
BMW may simply opt to use the engine on MINI models as well as on its upcoming lineup of front-drive vehicles including models such as the i3.