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BMW mulling four-cylinder 3, 1-series for U.S.

BMW was one of the few automakers to actually post a sales gain in August, but it reported the smallest improvement with only a 1 percent increase in sales. While BMW as a whole only saw a modest increase, the brand's economical four-cylinder MINI brand saw an impressive 34 percent gain. MINI's strong sales are no doubt related to the brand's excellent fuel economy, which has BMW brass considering offering even more economical models.

According to Edmunds, BMW is currently considering bringing a four-cylinder version of its popular 3-series to the U.S. Moreover, the move would also include a four-pot for the slightly smaller 1-series.

One of BMW's best sellers in Europe is actually the thrifty 320i. While not as powerful as the 335i or even the 330i, the 320i's 167 horsepower provides adequate motivation and returns far better fuel economy. Same goes for the 120i.

Both models would be attractive to U.S. customers in the wake of $4 gas, and would also lower the cost of entry for prospective buyers.

However, despite a four-cylinder gas engine being on the table, BMW doesn't have plans to bring its diesel four-cylinder to the U.S. anytime soon.

If the four-pot BMWs do get the green light, they could hit out shores as early as 2010 or 2011.