This year’s competition featured four exceptional turbocharged inline 6-cyl. engines, but BMW’s 3.0L TwinPower in the M2 coupe blew past them all on its way to 60 mph (97 km/h) in just 3.9 seconds – and into a spot on our 2023 Wards 10 Best Engines & Propulsion Systems list.
Packing a 453-hp, 406-lb.-ft. (550-Nm) wallop driving the rear wheels, the M-tuned powerplant draws on decades of racing engine development by the German automaker. The new S58 engine gains 48 hp compared with its B58 predecessor, itself a two-time Wards 10 Best Engines & Propulsion Systems honoree in 2019 and 2020.
Enabling technologies include a lightweight 3-D-printed cylinder head that precisely routes coolant to exactly where it’s needed; lightweight and low-friction wire-arc spray-in cylinder liners; and a lightweight forged crankshaft that lowers rotating mass, allowing for quick engine response and a 7,200-rpm redline.
Dual single-scroll turbochargers feature electronically controlled wastegates for rapid reaction while BMW’s fuel-injection system provides precise, high-pressure delivery while variable valve timing and variable camshaft timing aid in power and efficiency.
Our tester’s 8-speed, paddle-shifted gearbox allowed us to manage power delivery with ease, keeping the high-strung engine in its sweet spot, whether accelerating from a start or grabbing a downshift in a passing lane.
At 151 hp/L, with maximum torque arriving at just 2,650 rpm and sustaining that thrust through 5,870 rpm, the power-dense I-6 pulls well beyond its luxury performance peers, whether judging by numbers on paper or by the seat of the pants.
“This has insane torque – it feels like it peaks at zero rpm,” says judge Christie Schweinsberg, comparing the M2 favorably with the many battery-electric vehicles in our competition. Another judge equates the launch to “being shot out of a cannon.”
Fuel economy is never a strong suit in a high-strung performance car, especially when undergoing a series of test drives that lean toward lead-footedness, but our observed readings were spot on with the M2’s EPA estimates of 16/23 mpg (14.7-10.2 L/100 km) city/highway, so it earns good marks for accuracy.
Our tester, featuring the brand’s Carbon Package using the material for wheels, roof, seats and trim, stickered at $76,545. While our evaluations came in the relatively tight confines of the M2 coupe, BMW also drops this same S58 engine into the larger M3 sedan and M4 coupe and the X3 M and X4 M CUVs, all tuned to even higher output. So you can have your monster motor and more cabin and cargo space, too.
The 2023 winners will be honored during the Wards 10 Best Engines & Propulsion Systems award ceremony Oct. 18 on day two of AutoTech: Electrification at the Fort Pontchartrain Hotel in Detroit. Learn more about the event and book your ticket by visiting https://bit.ly/3REayqc. All credentialed media are welcome and qualify for free admittance to both the awards ceremony and AutoTech: Electrification Oct. 17-18.