This doesn't mean the horsepower wars are slowing down, it's just that BMW doesn't want to shoot the M8 in the foot.
One of the big caveats of the modern day horsepower war is that eventually, automakers are going to run out of cheap power. If each generation gets a massive gain over the previous car it replaces, it won’t be long before Corvettes and Mustangs have 1,000 horsepower outputs—victims of trying to keep up the rapid uptrend of their own engines’ power grabs. BMW, on the other hand, takes it slow. The previous E90 M3 featured a V8 making 414 horsepower. The leap to the F80 only saw that number jump to 425 horsepower.
Though Bimmer fans can argue that the big gain happened on the lb-ft end of things and not with the hp, it was slightly refreshing to see that BMW wasn’t going to shoot itself in the foot by rendering the M5, M6, and upcoming M8 obsolete with an overpowered M3/M4. A report by BMW Blog asserts that the next generation of midrange M cars will follow suit by getting no more than 475 horsepower. That doesn’t just include the next generation M3 and M4, but extends also to the upcoming X3 M and X4 M, which will debut before the 3/4 Series-based coupe and sedan. Thankfully there won’t be any further downsizing because the Bavarian engine tuners are sticking with the 3.0-liter twin-turbo inline-six power plant.
Now 475 horsepower is no laughing matter, but we must remember that BMW has dropped a hint that gasoline may not be the only motivator under the hood. Rumors suggest that the G80 M3 could come with a 48-volt electrical system that enables mild hybridization—hopefully optimized for both performance and fuel economy rather than just the latter. Ensuring that these Bimmers will beat their predecessors without much of a horsepower advantage will be plenty of BMW’s weight-averting Cluster Architecture, which recruits the help of carbon fiber and a plethora of alloys to keep mass from impending on the driving experience. Will this be enough to beat up an AMG? We’ll have to wait and see.