BMW is lining up a hardcore special edition of the M3 saloon as one last hurrah for the performance icon before it is replaced with an all-new model in 2012.
The latest M3 special, spied here in testing at the Nürburgring, will use the same 4.4-litre V8 engine as the M3 GTS coupé and will be lighter, faster and more track-focused than the M3 saloon on which it is based. The upgrades will extend to new braking and suspension set-ups.
BMW says the power output will be between the standard M3’s 414bhp and GTS’s 444bhp, but Autocar understands it’s likely to match the GTS’s figure. The torque figure is likely to be 325lb ft. Expect 0-62mph performance to be around 4.5sec and the top speed to be just shy of 190mph when de-restricted.
The car was first previewed to journalists at a viewing of the new M5 concept in April. BMW M chief Kay Segler, who has since moved to head Mini, said the M3 saloon special would contain “several other surprises”.
The spy shots show the M3 saloon special sporting several muscular styling upgrades. It gets revised front and rear bumpers, a new front splitter and rear diffuser, as well as some lightweight body panels taken from the M3 GTS. It will also use that car’s lightweight sports exhaust, but makes do with a more subtle boot spoiler instead of the GTS’s large fixed rear wing.
The car will sit between the standard M3 and GTS coupé in BMW’s range, ground traditionally occupied by the M3 CSL. BMW has yet to say whether or not the car will use either the CSL or GTS name, but the former is considered unlikely because it’s a badge traditionally reserved for M3 coupés.