Although the M3 is a focused performance car, it is renowned for its split personality, capable of performing on the track as well as a luxury vehicle on the road. BMW M is seen here analysing the new model on German streets to ensure that side of it is up to scratch.
As these revealing spy shots show, the new M3 will feature all the telltale cues of its heritage. There are bulged wheel arches front and back for not only a muscular look, but also to accommodate a wider track and an uprated tyre and wheel package over the normal 3 Series.
Behind the wheels sits a high-performance cross-drilled braking package, while we can also expect vast revisions to the suspension components underneath, including geometry changes to caster and camber for optimum handling compared with the normal 3 Series.
Although this test car doesn't seem to feature it, the production version is likely to have a discreet rear lip spoiler mounted on the boot lid, as well as the trademark quad-outlet exhaust pipes.
As for the engine hardware, BMW M is doing a good job of keeping details under tight wraps. A prototype has been heard testing on the Nurburgring in western Germany, barking out a definitive six-cylinder engine note. A six-cylinder unit is said to be the choice for the next flagship 3 Series as BMW keeps on top of ever-tightening emissions laws.
A patent application has been found outlining details of a new turbocharged V6 engine, however, this does not necessarily mean M Division will be applying the layout to the production version. A revised variant of the BMW 1 M 3.0-litre TwinPower straight six engine is a likely candidate.
One thing we can be sure of: the next M3 won't feature a V8 unit like the current model. We'll have to wait and see for further details.
The next-gen M3 is expected to be unveiled in 2013, with a concept possibly heading to an international motor show later in 2012.