“The target is that we have a weight reduction,” told Bartels. “This is the core target, for sure.
“The advantages are you get more dynamics and less fuel consumption.
“Unfortunately you don’t get it for free, so it takes quite a lot of work and quite a lot of initial cost.”
Bartels was tight lipped about the worst kept secret about the new M3 – whether it will get two turbochargers or three – but it is all but confirmed that a six-cylinder engine of 3.0- or 3.3-litre capacity will be used with, more likely, two turbos.
Regardless, the M3 will absolutely produce substantially more than 250kW of power and 450Nm of torque – the outputs of the outgoing BMW 1 Series M which used a 3.0-litre twin-turbo six-cylinder. The next M3 will also have to move beyond the current V8 model's 309kW and closer to the 336kW output of the circa-130kg-heavier Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG sedan.
Both manual and dual-clutch automatic transmissions are, however, confirmed to be offered.
For the first time in its history the fourth generation M3 will be a sedan-only product, with the coupe and convertible switching to the name M4. The sales operations boss hinted that the two models would be released in close succession, and given that CarAdvice's spy photographers have started snapping close-to-production M4 coupes at the Nurburgring (pictured) that would appear to be the case.
“The 3 Series is already on the road for quite a long time, and the 4 Series starts production in July, so those two [M3 and M4] will be close,” he said.
“We aim to have one new M model per year and the M3 is next.”
With the BMW M6 Gran Coupe having launched in 2013, that means it will be 2014 until we see the new M3 sedan and M4 coupe and convertible, though it is rumoured that a concept model will be shown at the Frankfurt motor show in September.
Despite having shifted back to six cylinders from the current model's eight, and utilising turbocharging technology for the first time, Bartel says the core attributes of an M3 will be undiluted for the next generation. It will apparently not follow the M5’s shift in personality that resulted in the latest generation becoming a less focused performance car in the quest to improve liveability and all-round ability.
“The M3 is the most pure M automobile we have,” he insisted. “That won’t change.
“[It is] the one that is the closest to the racetrack and the ultimate driving experience on the racetrack is what you can have with the coupe especially.
“To me, it’s the closest one to motorsport.”