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.