BMW's new mid-sized performance hero is getting closer to launch, but reports it would surface at Frankfurt look like they're off the money.
The hotly-anticipated 2020 BMW M3 looks likely to be offered with rear- and all-wheel drive, but it won't appear until 2020 as M instead focuses on its growing range of hotted-up SUVs.
A new M3 is always big news, though the G20 could be bigger-than-usual, however, based on some of the rumours swirling about its drivetrain.
He wouldn't outright confirm (or deny) anything, but Markus Flasch, new boss of BMW M offered a few breadcrumbs to Australian media about what's in store for the legendary nameplate.
Will the next M3 be offered with a manual, in 'Pure' guise with rear-wheel drive, and with an all-wheel drive powertrain, as the rumours suggest? The smart money would say yes.
"As you can imagine for M3 we were able to take over the entire drivetrain concept that we offer in the M5, and we were able to a rear-wheel drive version as well, plus manual transmission," Flasch said.
"We can do whatever the markets globally demand," he later added. Pressed on whether we'll see a rear-drive, all-wheel drive and a manual M3, he said "I can't confirm it, but I've driven cars..." Read into that what you will.
Power in the new M3 will come from a turbocharged inline-six dubbed 'S58', described as 95% different to the S55 used in the current model.
The development team has focused on delivering snappy throttle response and a free-revving character, neither of which are traditional strengths of turbocharged engines.
He wouldn't outright confirm it, but Flasch indicated the new M3 will get a torque converter automatic in place of the dual-clutch unit used in the outgoing model.
"You can assume that we will carry over well-working systems from the M5. We also get the feedback... the transmission in the M5 is excellent, so there is no need to change a winning team there," he said.
Interestingly, BMW M clearly thinks there's still a market for pure rear-wheel drive sports cars, especially in smaller segments. Whereas M5 or AMG E63 owners are likely to daily drive their cars in wintry climes, Flasch says M3 owners generally have something more practical for the commute.
"Rear-wheel drive makes more sense on these cars," he argued, "because they are taken out in good weather on special occasions."
Rumours the G20 M3 will debut at the Frankfurt motor show were seemingly quashed during our time with Flasch, who spoke with Australian media on a phone hookup from Munich.
The media minder sitting beside Flasch subsequently said the car won't surface this year. Keep waiting, M fans.