First spy pictures of BMW's long-awaited M2 show development is under way, with the car expected to launch next year

These first spy pictures reveal that development of the long-awaited BMW M2 is under way.

While there's been no official confirmation from BMW on the subject of an M2, the project has been rumoured since the new 2-series received its public debut at the Detroit motor show in January.

Seemingly borrowing bodywork elements from the M235i Racing, this test mule features flared wheel arches and a much wider track than the regular 2-series. Blue performance brakes can also be seen on the mule, while its alloy wheels appear to be borrowed from the new M3 and M4

This model is reportedly only testing the M2's chassis, hence the lack of other traditional M division treatments such as quadruple exhaust tailpipes and more aggressive front and rear bumpers.

However, reports have already suggested that the new car will use a 3.0-litre six-cylinder turbocharged engine. While its official output is unknown, it's expected to carry significantly more power than the 322bhp of the M235i coupé and the 328bhp of the M235i Racing. However, it will also sit below the 425bhp of the new M3 and M4.

Expect a 0-62mph time of less than the 4.8sec of the M235i coupé and a limited top speed of 155mph. Like the M3 and M4, drivers will likely be able to raise that limited top speed via an optional M Driver's Package. It is also expected that elements from the M4, including that car's bespoke suspension and active differential, will also be brought over to the M2.

Current reports suggest that the BMW M2 will be revealed towards the end of next year, with the new car expected to go on sale at the start of 2016.

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