BMW lowers its prices… by shrinking its engines

SINGAPORE — Can a new 1.5-litre engine power BMW’s sales here? That seems to the hope, withthree new models making their Singapore debut, all with driven by the tiny, turbo engine.

The 136 horsepower engine had already been available in the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer, a compact MPV, and variations of it power various models from Mini, the German carmaker’s subsidiary.

But now it has worked its way under the bonnets of other BMW cars to create entry-level models that cost tens of thousands of dollars less than before.

The 218i Coupe, for example, is now the brand’s cheapest two-door car. At $158,800 with COE, it costs a good $34,000 less than the 220i Coupe, which has a bigger and more powerful engine.

Still, the 1.5-litre, eight-speed 218i can gallop to 100km/h in 8.9 seconds, so it’s not exactly a snail.

Wind-in-hair enthusiasts now have the option of its open-top equivalent, the 218i Convertible. That costs $178,800 with COE, a $29,000 savings over the 220i Convertible — incidentally, one of the most fun cars to drive , in CarBuyer’s view.

The BMW 3 Series has also gotten the 1.5-litre treatment. A facelifted version of the car has just made its debut here, and only the 318i model is available so far, for $180,800 with COE.

READ MORE > The facelifted 3 Series rolls into town

These new models with downsized engines follow up on the launch of the 116d earlier this month, a diesel car that now serves as BMW’s cheapest model, at $138,800 with COE.

They are part of an overall strategy to counter chronically high COE prices by importing more basic versions of BMW’s models and stretching downwards towards customers on a budget.

While is remains to be seen just how well the move the work, for now the philosophy is clear: small is the new big.

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