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 GTS, enabling 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.