Ultimate N13 Engine Guide: Tech, Performance & Problems

In this month’s Engine Guide, we’re about to embark on an enlightening journey, turbochargers and all, as we uncover the secrets of the compact, yet mighty, BMW N13 engine.

Now, if you’re anything like me, the mere mention of TwinPower Turbo technology is enough to send a shiver down your spine.

And with good reason—this innovative system has transformed the N13 engine into a high-performance beast with impeccable fuel efficiency.

But what truly sets the N13 apart is its compact design. Nestled snugly within the engine bays of models like the 114i, 116i, and 118i, this engineering marvel performs like a ballet dancer on steroids—graceful, powerful, and utterly mesmerizing.

You might be wondering, “How on earth did BMW manage to cram so much versatility into such a small package?” Fear not, BIMMERIST faithful, we’ll be lifting the hood to expose the magic hidden beneath. We’ll explore how the N13 engine has become a reliable workhorse across various BMW models, as well as examine the common problems that can arise in this small yet mighty engine.

Stay tuned, folks, and prepare to be enlightened as we delve into the intricacies of the N13 engine in this month’s Powerplant Section. So, buckle up, grab your favorite wrench, and join me on this wild ride through the exhilarating world of the BMW N13 engine. After all, knowledge is power, and this journey promises to be one of turbocharged enlightenment.

The Essence of the N13 Engine

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to rewind the clock and step into the fascinating history of the N13 engine. Born from the need for a more efficient yet powerful driving experience, the N13 emerged as a triumphant result of BMW’s ceaseless innovation. Officially introduced in 2011, this compact wonder quickly gained notoriety as a game-changer, offering performance and efficiency in equal measure.

The N13 engine is also known as the BMW-PSA “Prince” engine, which was developed as a joint venture between BMW and PSA Peugeot Citroën. The Prince engine family includes a range of four-cylinder engines, with the N13 being the BMW-specific version. The engine is utilized in both BMW and MINI models, demonstrating its versatility and adaptability across different brands within the BMW Group.

Technical Specifications

Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty, shall we? The N13 engine is a 1.6-liter, 4-cylinder, direct-injection gasoline engine equipped with BMW’s notorious TwinPower Turbo technology. Boasting power outputs ranging from 101 to 168 horsepower, depending on the specific model and tune, the N13 is truly a jack of all trades. But wait, there’s more. This feisty engine also features a Valvetronic variable valve lift system, Double-VANOS variable camshaft control, and an all-aluminum construction that makes it a lightweight contender in the world of powerplants.

TwinPower Turbo Technology Unveiled

Now, let’s dive into the heart of the matter—the TwinPower Turbo technology that sets the N13 engine apart from the rest. Contrary to popular belief, the N13 doesn’t actually have two turbos. Instead, it features a single, twin-scroll turbocharger that efficiently harnesses exhaust gases to provide optimal power and torque. By channeling exhaust gases through two separate channels, the N13 effectively eliminates turbo lag, delivering smooth, responsive acceleration that’ll make you swoon.

Direct Fuel Injection and Valvetronic Variable Valve Lift System

But the TwinPower Turbo technology is just the tip of the iceberg. The N13 engine also employs direct fuel injection, which sprays fuel directly into the combustion chamber rather than the intake manifold. This results in a more precise air-to-fuel ratio and improved combustion efficiency. Couple that with the Valvetronic variable valve lift system, which continuously adapts valve lift and duration, and you’ve got yourself an engine that’s not only powerful, but also incredibly efficient. It’s no wonder the N13 has become the darling of BMW enthusiasts around the world.

Compact Design and Widespread Use

If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that size matters—especially when it comes to engines. The N13 engine’s compact design is a testament to BMW’s engineering prowess and commitment to creating powerful, yet efficient engines that can fit neatly into a variety of vehicles. Smaller engines inherently possess lower internal friction and reduced weight, translating into improved fuel efficiency and responsiveness. With the N13, BMW has struck a perfect balance between performance and efficiency, all wrapped up in a tidy little package.

The Benefits of a Versatile Engine in BMW’s Lineup

Versatility is the name of the game when it comes to the N13 engine. Its compact size and impressive performance capabilities have made it an ideal choice for a range of small and midsize BMW models, from the spirited 1 Series to the luxurious 3 Series. This adaptability has allowed BMW to maintain consistency across its lineup while still catering to the unique needs of each model. The N13 engine’s presence in various BMW vehicles is a testament to its flexibility and prowess, proving that good things do, indeed, come in small packages.

The Models Utilizing the N13 Engine

Prepare to be amazed, BIMMERIST readers, as we take a closer look at the models that proudly carry the N13 engine under their hoods. The N13 has found its home in the BMW 114i, 116i, 118i, and 320i, as well as in the 3 Series ActiveHybrid models. In addition, the engine has been adapted for use in the MINI Cooper S, proving that this little powerhouse is not only versatile but also capable of transcending brand boundaries. With the N13 engine powering these models, BMW has ensured a thrilling and fuel-efficient driving experience for a wide range of automotive enthusiasts.

Common Problems and Solutions

Timing Chain Issues

Now, let’s get real for a moment. No engine is without its quirks, and the N13 is no exception. One of the more common problems faced by N13 owners is timing chain failure. Prolonged stress and wear can cause the timing chain to stretch or even break, resulting in poor engine performance and, in extreme cases, catastrophic engine failure. Fear not, though, as regular maintenance and inspection can go a long way in preventing such disasters. Plus, BMW has taken steps to address this issue in newer models by improving the chain’s design and materials.

Oil Leaks and Consumption

Another issue that can rear its ugly head with the N13 engine is oil leaks and consumption. Often, these leaks can be traced back to the oil filter housing gasket and valve cover gasket. Luckily, replacing these gaskets is a relatively straightforward and cost-effective solution. Keep an eye on your oil level, and be proactive with maintenance to avoid unwanted surprises.

Coolant Issues

Coolant leaks and overheating are also concerns with the N13 engine. The electric water pump and thermostat are often the culprits, and they can sometimes fail prematurely. Regular inspection and timely replacement of these components will ensure that your N13 engine stays cool and happy.

Turbocharger Problems

As with any turbocharged engine, the N13 is not immune to turbo-related issues. Wastegate rattle and bearing wear are the most common problems that can arise, causing a loss of power and efficiency. To prevent turbocharger issues, make sure you follow proper warm-up and cool-down procedures, and use high-quality engine oil to keep everything running smoothly.

Solutions and Preventive Maintenance

The key to keeping your N13 engine purring like a well-tuned machine is vigilance and regular maintenance. Stay on top of oil changes, coolant flushes, and inspections, and address any issues as soon as they arise. By following a strict maintenance schedule and showing your engine some love, you’ll be rewarded with the exhilarating performance that the N13 is known for.

Remember, knowledge is power, and understanding the common problems that can arise with the N13 engine will help you stay ahead of the curve and ensure a long, satisfying relationship with your BMW.


As we reach the end of our exhilarating journey through the world of the BMW N13 engine, let’s take a moment to reflect on what we’ve learned. This compact powerhouse has demonstrated its worth time and time again, with its innovative TwinPower Turbo technology, direct fuel injection, and Valvetronic variable valve lift system delivering exceptional performance and efficiency. Despite facing some common problems, like timing chain issues and oil leaks, the N13 engine has proven itself as a reliable and versatile workhorse in BMW’s lineup.

By understanding the intricacies of the N13 engine, you, the BIMMERIST reader, can better appreciate the engineering marvel under the hood of your beloved BMW. Armed with this knowledge, you can ensure that your engine remains in top condition, providing you with the thrilling driving experience you’ve come to expect from the brand.

As we bid farewell to the N13 engine, for now, I encourage you to continue exploring the fascinating world of BMW powerplants. There is always more to learn, more to discover, and more to appreciate as we delve deeper into the heart and soul of these incredible machines. So, keep turning the pages of BIMMERIST, keep asking questions, and keep seeking knowledge, because, as we all know, knowledge is power—especially when it comes to the engines that propel us forward.

N13 Specs

Engine Type1.6-liter inline-4
ConfigurationDirect-injection gasoline engine
Turbocharging SystemTwinPower Turbo (single twin-scroll turbo)
Power Output Range101 – 168 horsepower
ValvetrainValvetronic variable valve lift system
Camshaft ControlDouble-VANOS variable camshaft control
Displacement1598 cc
Bore x Stroke77.0 mm x 85.8 mm
Compression Ratio10.5:1
Fuel DeliveryDirect fuel injection
Common ApplicationsBMW 114i, 116i, 118i, 320i, ActiveHybrid models, MINI Cooper S

Georg Meier

BMW technician since 1996, began his automotive journey in 1993 as an apprentice mechanic at Automag, the world's oldest BMW dealership located in Munich. With years of experience and dedication under his belt, Georg has garnered a wealth of knowledge about the intricacies of BMW vehicles. His profound love for the brand led him to found BIMMERIST website, where he now shares his expertise and insights with fellow enthusiasts.

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