The next-generation BMW M3 – due for launch in 2020 – appears to have been photographed undisguised for the first time, according to an image posted to Facebook by BMW tuning specialist Evolve Automotive.
The car photographed looks to be on the assembly line and the image reveals previously unconfirmed elements of the model's design. Key changes over the standard 3 Series include the addition of a subtle rear spoiler, extended wheel arches, black plastic rear trim and reshaped bootlid. 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 hotly anticipated performance saloon is expected to use an extensively updated version of BMW’s twin-scroll turbocharged 3.0-litre straight-six engine, producing around 500bhp.
Officials at the 2018 Paris motor show, including company boss Harald Krüger, confirmed that a new M3 was under development, although they declined to give details. It is understood, however, that engineers have been set the target of giving the new M3 a power boost over the M3 CS, which produced 454bhp.
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. The only obstacle to this system being employed is believed to have centred on the issue of effective packaging, but that has now thought to have been overcome.
The additional weight of the water injection system is minimal and unlikely to compromise BMW’s goal of making the car lighter than the 1585kg 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 carbonfibre parts, including the roof.