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BMW has been spotted testing a prototype version of the upcoming new BMW M3. This is the first time our spy photographers have captured the new model showcasing a relatively revealing exterior.

The new 2012 BMW 3 Series hasn’t even been released but it hasn’t stopped BMW’s M division getting hold of the new model and starting work on the next BMW M3. From these images, it looks like the new model will continue the theme of offering understated styling, with all the performance and fruit underneath.

BMW is set to release the sedan version first. Perhaps the most interesting aspect to the new M3 is the name, as international reports have indicated BMW might be going for a new variant naming system which could see the new two-door coupe and convertible models being named BMW 4 Series. This could mean the popular coupe will be called the BMW M4.

Engine details of the new model are still under tight wraps but there are numerous speculations around at the moment which point to at least three different engine possibilities. The first is a tuned version of the BMW 1 Series M Coupe engine, which comprises a 3.0-litre turbocharged straight six, which, in the 1 M produces 250kW and 500Nm. A triple turbo variant is also rumoured.

The second possibility is said to be a twin-turbo V6 engine. It’s unknown what kind of specifications this would offer, but according to early patent images, the twin-turbo V6 would incorporate a 6-into-1 exhaust manifold feeding into one turbocharger. The exit of the turbo would then blow into a larger secondary turbo.

The other possibility is a revised version of the current 4.0-litre V8, although, with BMW looking to continue as the ‘greenest’ manufacturer around, this option is said to be the least likely. The lack of a bonnet bulge which normally accommodates a V8 also reduces the likelihood.

The 2014 BMW M3/4 is expected to be unveiled halfway through 2013, with sales taking place in 2014. We’ll keep you updated with official details as soon as they come to hand.


  • Harry

    yes, destroy all the heritage you have, M4 great idea, what does M3 mean to anyone, V6? great idea who associates BMW with straight sixes? 6 into 1 headers with sequential twin turbos? the Germans are on acid.

    • AndyGF

      I agree with you to some extent… But BMW has proven they and their customers can weather the storm of hatred from purists who would let something like a single digit or turbocharger get in the way of progress.

      BMW do what they do the way I do what I do, if you have to adapt to be the best, then get on with it!

      PS: its not like the M3 wont exist anymore, it will just be a 4 door version while the M4 is the coupe. Still the best family mans super saloon around!

      • Monk

        Why not just solve the problem – less doors = lower number, hence the coupe would be the M3 and the 4 door the M4?

        Everyone is happy… aren’t they?

        • Howdog

          Makes sense to me.

          • Toby

            This would break the BMW numbering system even more. BMW gives odd numbers to the passenger cars (eg 1, 3, 5, X, 7 series) and even numbers to the sports cars (eg Z4, 6, X6, 8 series).

            So really to stick with this naming convention they should call the sedan M3 and the coupe M4.

          • Sam

            I think Audi might mention something if they did that, A4 vs 4 series as sedans might create a bit of confusion.

            It also has the potential to take away a bit of its identity in comparison to A4 as well.

    • scottjames_12

      I can’t see BMW developing a turbo V6 when they already have sweet straight 6 turbo engines. Unless they are working on the turbo-in-the-valley idea from the TwinPower V8? In that case, I’d think it would be more logical to just use the existing TwinPower v8?

      I can’t see BMW dropping the straight 6 after so long, it would be a shame if they did.

      • AndyGF

        They are… Its basically the V8 with two cylinders chopped off. (90 degrees apparently, but that is only what the people say who got hold of the blueprint of the patient BMW is filing, so I cant say for sure, and I think that means it would need balance shafts so im certainly not sure if they are committed to that design).

        But it shows bigger turbo in series behind a smaller turbo, rather than two turbos in parallel, inside the V configuration.

        The only reason in my mind to abandon the straight six is crank vibes. Long crankshafts like all long straight engines stress their center bearings much more than shorter crankshaft designs. Its possible BMW will use the M3/4 as a platform to introduce V6 power to their customers, without upsetting the fans of the straight six engines and keeping them in production for the smaller BMW models.

        IE: Nobody will complain about a V6, if it comes out in the M3 and wipes the floor with everybody. But can you imagine all the moaning and groaning if they brought out a V6 in the smaller BMW models. They would never hear the end of it…

        • scottjames_12

          Yep, that’s exactly what I thought they would do if they were bringing in a V6 – lop 2 cylinders off the existing TwinPower V8. So in that case we’d be looking at a 3.3L V6 with about 308kw and 510nm?

          I’m not sure crank vibes would be the problem – what with the I6 being a very well balanced configuration and previous engines like the E46 M3 revving to 8000rpm +. I’d be more inclined to think that the V design caters better to TwinPower idea – very short distance from the exhaust valves to the turbo(s).

          • AndyGF

            Possibly, but dont hold me to that… I would still prefer a 60 degree V6 as it wont need balance shafts.

            Its possible too with that sequential turbo configuration that the V6 could do much better than the Twinpower V8, where emphasis is on drivablity and not top end power.

            Im not saying that you cant engineer out the inherent flaws of a straight six engine, BMW M division really does know more than anyone else how to get the best out of its straight sixes. But yeah, a V6 wouldnt be ‘such’ a bad idea for reasons you gave; shorter turbo manifolds, ect, and crank vibes either way.

          • AndyGF

            Saw a video clip this morning of them testing the new M3… It’s definitely going to be a six!

      • John

        A V6 based on the V8 would actually make sense. The 4L V8 in the E9x M3′s was basically the 5L V10 from the M5 with two less cylinders.

  • http://yahoo Andrew

    I just wish they would look at other options to keep that 4lt V8 alive in the M3, like a Kers type system, maybe. Porcshe are able to put a mega V8 into the upcoming 918 and still acheive better than prius fuel economy @about 3lt/100.
    The 1 series has got the turbo six covered, and the M5 has the twin turbo V8, so a naturally aspirated V8 would be perfect in the next M3. it would be nice to still have at least 1 n/a engine from the M group.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1715760895 Charles Dean

    Why don’t Germans have many n/a engines??

    • Sam

      Because you can achieve better emissions and fuel economy with induced engines while still maintaining a high performance output. I think they also carry a slight weight reduction.

      Mercedes are phasing out their 6.2 V8 for TT 5.5 V8.

      M5 losing V10 for TT V8

      RS6 TT V10 for TT V8 (most likely)

      Look at F1, going to T V6 (will eventually be a motocycle engine at the rate they are dropping engine size).

      • scottjames_12

        F1 is a whole different kettle of fish. Remember the days before forced induction was banned? Crazy amounts of power from 1.5L turbo engines. The new V6′s will be rev limited to 15,000 rpm to keep the power levels sane (probably a raft of other design restrictions too).

        • Sam

          Yes but formula 1 hates innovation eg 6 wheeled car, the fan car.

  • Shak

    Its a bit saddening to see BMW essentially abandoning their performance heritage throughout the range simply in the name of progress. I was hoping that the 3 Series would have been a last bastion to keep the M heritage of Soaring revs, and NA engines alive…but no. I see why they are doing it, i just wish that they werent.

    • scottjames_12

      I agree. Like you say though, it’s easy to see why they are doing it – forced induction allows lighter, more efficient engines with fatter torque curves. Also consider BMW’s competition – they probably need to do this to stay competitive with Audi and Merc.

  • Devil’s Advocate

    I just can’t believe that BMW are even contemplating a V6 considering their heritage with the straight 6. Try and find another 6cyl that is as smooth as a BMW straight 6. Plus I haven’t heard a V6 engine that even comes close to the wonderful noise made by their straight 6. All you have to do is youtube the E46 M3 CSL to see why. The noise that thing makes causes the hair on the back of your neck to stand up.

    It will be a sad day if/when they do say goodbye to the engine that has been such an integral part of BMWs for decades…