The rear of the next-generation BMW M3 has been revealed via leaked images. The car looks to be on the assembly line and the image reveals elements of the model's design.
Key changes over the 3 Series include the addition of a subtle rear spoiler, flared wheel arches, black plastic rear trim and a reshaped boot lid. Four large exhaust pipes also feature and will be housed in a downforce-enhancing rear diffuser, which appears to not yet have been installed.
The performance sedan is expected to use an extensively updated version of BMW’s twin-scroll turbocharged 3.0-litre straight-six engine, producing around 500bhp. It is believed that the additional performance is likely to come from the use of a water injection system, like that used by the M4 GTS, to enable reduced cylinder temperatures for more efficient running. It is understood, that engineers have been set the target of giving the new M3 a power boost over the M3 CS, which produced 460hp.
The additional weight of the water injection system is minimal and unlikely to compromise BMW’s goal of making the car lighter than the 1,585kg M3 CS. This is thanks to the savings already made by the basic structure of the new 3 Series, as well as the potential benefits of using carbon fibre parts, including the roof.
The use of a four-wheel drive system similar to that used on the M5, and any form of electrification is believed to have been vetoed because they would add too much weight, complexity and cost. However, persistent reports suggest that the 2020 M3 could be the final M model to be launched without some form of electrification.
There are no further details about the new M3’s potential performance, but the lighter, more powerful car will eclipse the current M3 CS’s 0-100kph time of 3.9sec. It will be sold with a choice of a six-speed manual gearbox or an optional eight-speed automatic, but the auto will enable better performance figures thanks to a built-in electronic launch control system.
The M3 will also benefit from the increased rigidity offered by its part-aluminium, part-high-strength steel CLAR underpinnings. The regular car’s wider track and uprated suspension systems should also give engineers the foundation for a more dynamically capable M3.
As well as offering greater performance potential, the stiffer chassis should reduce the amount of vibration transmitted into the car to enhance overall refinement. It should also allow engineers to adopt softer spring rates to give the M3 a more compliant ride in its most comfortable mode, without hampering the car’s overall dynamic ability.
Inside, the next M3 will follow in the M5's footsteps by swapping its dashtop infotainment screen for one that’s more tidily integrated into the dashboard. It will also gain significantly more advanced driver assist features, but former sales and marketing boss Ian Robertson has hinted to to our sister publication Autocar UK that most BMW models will steer clear of the full autonomous hardware suites to be used on i5 and i7 due from 2021. M models, in particular, will still possess a very driver-centric character.
The M3 will continue to form the basis for the technically identical M4 coupé, while M-worked 3 Series models will lend their hardware to a two-door M440i and M440d M Performance coupés. These models are also due to debut in 2020 and are part of a 26-model onslaught of M division-tuned cars that aims to more extensively rival the growing ranges of Mercedes-AMG and Audi Sport.
It remains uncertain whether the car will feature an active rear-wheel steering system to enhance agility and boost high-speed stability.
BMW had brought the all-new 3 Series to India in August this year with the choice of 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol and diesel engine options. As with its predecessor, we can expect the new M3 to make its way to the Indian market sometime after its global debut.