Autocar's spy photographers have caught the hottest, fastest and most eagerly-awaited metal planned to emerge from Munich over the five years - and it's all here. These pictures exclusively reveal clues to the final appearance of BMW's M-Sport versions of the 6-series coupé and forthcoming 3-series saloon; they also confirm that the maker will produce an M-Sport branded Z4 roadster, and a new 3-series Sport model marketed to exploit the untapped demand that exists immediately below that of the M3. BMW M3
These pictures (above) prove BMW is planning a four-door M3, which will sit alongside the traditional coupé version when the cars are launched in around three years from now. The early 1990s was the last time BMW sold its performance legend in both two- and four-door bodystyles.
The M3 prototype pictured above and given away by its twin tailpipes, is based on new 3-series saloon, but with unique styling reminiscent of the 6-series coupé’s. This is most noticeable up front, where a rounded leading edge and flared wheelarches dominate. A coupé M3, which on early prototypes was disguised to appear like a cabriolet with a folding hard-top roof, has also been seen running around Germany’s Nürburgring track. The current M3’s 343bhp 3.2-litre in-line six is replaced by a new 400bhp 4.0-litre V8 engine derived from the M5’s 90-degree 5.0-litre V10. It is the first time BMW has fitted a V8 into the 3-series. Peak power is claimed to be around 405bhp – 62bhp up on today’s M3 and enough to ensure it meets BMW M-division’s traditional 100bhp-plus-per-litre specific output. Drive will be through the same seven-speed SMG (sequential manual gearbox) seen on the new M5 and an updated version of BMW’s M-differential. Expect 0-60mph in 5.0sec and a standing quarter mile in under 14sec. Top speed will be limited to 155mph.
BMW was planning to name the coupé and cabrio ‘4-series’, but has changed its mind after market research, and will now stick with the 3-series moniker across the range.