Next-generation rival to Mercedes-AMG C63 will be lighter and more powerful than today's F80 model

BMW is considering giving its next-generation M3 an active rear-wheel steering system to enhance agility and boost high-speed stability.

The car, now testing on public roads in development form and due to go on sale in 2020, would inherit the active technology from the 5 Series and 7 Series. If the hardware does make the cut and is fitted to the super-saloon, the M3 would be the only car in the upcoming 3 Series range (due later this year) to feature it.

BMW's upcoming Mercedes-AMG C63 rival can use the active steering technology because it's built on BMW’s latest CLAR structure. This platform uses more aluminium and high-strength steel to save weight and improve chassis rigidity.

CLAR already underpins the 5 Series and 7 Series, as well as M division models, and in the M3 it will be accompanied by extra carbonfibre parts, the largest of which will be an all-carbon roof. BMW has ruled out using a carbon core, like in the 7 Series, in the next 3 Series models, due to the complexity of the production process and significantly higher demand for the smaller saloon. But the new car is still pipped to weigh less than the recently revealed 1585kg M3 CS.

The use of more exotic materials will enable the weight loss despite a small growth for the M3, with an expected 20mm growth in wheelbase and 60mm expansion in total length. It's understood that BMW isn't interested in offering a part-time four-wheel-drive system like the one used on the new M5, largely due to the weight penalty it would bring.

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Power will be sent rearwards from an extensively updated version of BMW’s twin-scroll turbocharged 3.0-litre straight-six engine. The M3 CS, the run-out version of today's F80 M3, produces 454bhp, but a figure of 465bhp is predicted for the standard version of the next M3. While not confirmed, part of the performance increase could come from the use of a water injection system like the one employed by the M4 GTSenabling reduced cylinder temperatures for more efficient running. This suggestion is backed by comments from Bosch, the company that developed the system. It revealed to Autocar that the technology would be featured on more models from 2019. However, packaging challenges brought by the requirement for a water tank may prevent its use.

Comments from company vice-president Dirk Hacker revealed that BMW is investigating using electrification, likely in the form of gearbox-mounted electric motors, in M models to boost torque and reduce emissions. But insiders have told Autocar that the M3 will retain a pure combustion engine system in a bid to save weight and prevent costs from spiralling. The car’s petrol powerplant will therefore be the only source of drive through a standard-fit six-speed manual gearbox or optional eight-speed automatic. The latter will enable the best performance figures, thanks to an electronic launch control system.

Our previous sighting of a test car for the BMW M3 gave away little as to how the car will look, with the test lights fitted to the car not representative of the LED lights due for the production model. The only giveaways that this is an M3 test car are the large brake rotors and quad-tip exhaust system. The overall shape is familiar and suggests that the 2020 M3 will evolve the look of the current car in a similar vein to the latest 5 Series and M5 models compared with their predecessors. There will also be big improvements to aerodynamic efficiency, with the final design heavily influenced by wind tunnel research.

Along with the reduced wind noise that this more slippery shape will afford, the car’s stiffer CLAR underpinnings will reduce the amount of vibration transmitted through the chassis and into the car to enhance overall refinement. BMW is also expected to dial back the spring rates of the regular 3 Series models in order to make each model more supple over bumps - a response to the more comfortable set-up used by Mercedes-Benz C-Class. The more rigid BMW structure may also allow M division engineers to give the M3 a more compliant ride in its most comfortable mode without hampering the car’s overall dynamic ability, making it a better all-rounder and potentially more forgiving in low-grip scenarios.

Inside, the next M3 will follow the new M5's footsteps and swap its dashtop infotainment screen for one that’s more tidily integrated into the dashboard. The iDrive system is expected to retain a rotary control knob because it has been praised for its ease of use in current cars. The M3 will also gain significantly more advanced driver assist features, but former sales and marketing boss Ian Robertson has hinted to Autocar 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.

Beneath the M3, the most significant M model in terms of sales, BMW’s best engineers will also be called on to work on a range of M division-fettled cars. These will include a rear-wheel-drive M340i M Performance model that will feature a 360bhp version of BMW’s inline six-cylinder engine. There will also be a four-wheel-drive M340d xDrive M Performance car, which will be equipped with a 320bhp version of the company’s twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre inline six-cylinder diesel engine.

The M3 will continue to form the basis for the technically identical M4 coupé, while the aforementioned M-worked 3 Series models will lend their hardware to a two-door M440i M Performance coupé and M440d M Performance coupé. These models are also due to arrive in showrooms 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.

More content:

Will BMW's expansion affect its key cars?

What's coming when from BMW M?

Join the debate


19 December 2017

That's the question that M3 owners (and M4) that were previously burnt by BMW will be asking.


From BimmerBoost:

BMW ignores the F80 M3 & F82 M4 S55 engine crank hub issue and is it the worst BMW M3 production engine defect of all time?

Owners change bearings as preventative maintenance but if you are out of the warranty period it almost feels like a ticking time bomb. BMW does not care and just wants cars out of the warranty period as quickly as possible so they can wash their hands of any issue.

BMW has its flaws and its marketed image versus the reality (and reliability) of its products are vastly different things. They will chase profit over proper design.


19 December 2017

All the German manufacturers seem to have proritised Soft palstics, conectivity and "infotainnment" over actual substance to keep the price down.

Alfa are far more reliable than their reputation suggests and its a better drivers car, with harder plastics, so if I was able to by a "super Saloon", I'd go for the Alfa

19 December 2017

.... as your anti-BMW post following a BMW M series article

typos1 - Just can’t respect opinion

19 December 2017
xxxx wrote:

.... as your anti-BMW post following a BMW M series article

Do you seek the truth?   If so, then do your own searches.   Do your own research.   Go and find out for yourself.


19 December 2017

My 140i has covered 27000 miles and unfortunatly I have had to put 1/2 cup of water into the cooling system, when I bought my 1300 Meastro I had to put a bucket full in every day.Get Real.

19 December 2017
Gojohnygo wrote:

My 140i has covered 27000 miles and unfortunatly I have had to put 1/2 cup of water into the cooling system, when I bought my 1300 Meastro I had to put a bucket full in every day.Get Real.


You have B58 engine.    Quickest of searches and here's what you find:


The upper crankshaft guide bearing may wear out prematurely. The wear on the upper guide bearing can cause the clutch pedal to malfunction during shifting. The Engine Malfunction warning may be illuminated and a fault will be stored in the DME memory for the crankshaft sensor. Noise may be heard from the lower engine and transmission bell housing area. If the crankshaft guide bearing or crankshaft is found damaged during the inspection then the engine must be replaced.


(Read that back to yourself - cranshaft guide bearing wearing out requiring a new engine!).


19 December 2017

It looks huge. How many generations of 5 Series do you have to go back to to find one smaller than this 3?


19 December 2017
johnhg wrote:

It looks huge. How many generations of 5 Series do you have to go back to to find one smaller than this 3?


Current 3 series length 4,624 mm, wheelbase 2,810 mm


autocar wrote:

with an expected 20mm growth in wheelbase and 60mm expansion in total length

New 3 series length 4684mm, wheelbase 2830mm

E60 (Dame Edna) 5 series is 4,841 mm long / 2,888 mm wheelbase

E39 (the one that looked like a big E46) 5 series is 4,775 mm long / 2,830 mm wheelbase

E34 (the 'classic') 5 series is 4,720 mm long / 2,760 mm wheelbase

E28 ('mk2') 5 series is 4,620 mm long / 2,625 mm wheelbase


So bigger than a mid 80s 5 series, with the same wheelbase as a late 90s model.

19 December 2017

Interestingly the new 5 series is only about 30mm shorter than the late 90s 'Bond hire car' 7 series.

19 December 2017

BMW have lost it.  They look like clones.


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