The next BMW M3 has been spied undergoing testing at the Nürburgring, ahead of an expected debut at the Geneva motor show next March.

The M3 was last seen hot-weather testing in Death Valley earlier this month. Compared to that car, this test mule has substantially flared wheel arches and a more aggressive, lowered stance. This perhaps hints at a more overtly sporting M flagship than previous M3s, aping the outlandish 1M Coupe.

For the first time in its history, BMW will power the M3 with a turbocharged straight-six engine and be offered solely with a dual-clutch transmission. The powerplant will be a heavily modified version of the N55 that features in the M135i and 640i. In line with its Audi RS5 and Mercedes C63 AMG rivals, the M3 is expected to produce around 450bhp and 480lb ft of torque. It is likely to inherit the M5’s dual-clutch gearbox, but with its seven speeds revised for its new installation.

Electro-mechanical steering will also feature for the first time on an M3, but the electronic M differential remains. Like the bigger M5 and M6, the M3 will feature three-stage dynamic damper control.

Like the previous E92 model, this ‘F80’ M3 will retain a unitary steel structure. Despite this, aluminium is expected to feature prominently in areas such as the bonnet and doors to get the new car under the 1605kg kerb weight of the last version. 

Matt Bird