It'll be more than a downsized M5. Much more.
Now that BMW has successfully launched its latest 7 and 5 Series, attention will soon be focused on the all-new 3 Series, internally codenamed G20. The mainstream G80 3 Series lineup will premiere next year sometime, possibly at Geneva, as a 2019 model. Roughly two years later the G80 M3 will arrive, and Car Magazine has learned some updated details about it. As we previously learned, BMW M will stick with the current twin-turbo 3.0-liter inline-six, only it'll become more powerful.
Think somewhere in the neighborhood of 493 hp, the same output of the limited edition M4 GTS. And that's just the base model M3, so imagine what the eventual Competition Package will be like. And speaking of the M4 GTS, the G80 M3 (and M4) will feature that impressive water-injection system, so think of the M4 GTS as a test bed of sorts. In addition, the new M3 will have a 48-volt mild hybrid system and electrically spooled turbos. Also expect to see a similar version of the just revealed M5's all-wheel drive system. However, it'll be four-wheel drive on demand, and an optional feature. That leaves the door open to allowing for a six-speed manual for RWD models only.
Interestingly, the seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox will be dropped, replaced by an eight-speed automatic that'll offer a choice of shift speed and shift patterns. Why is the dual-clutch a goner? For one thing, the new eight-speed gearbox is simply more advanced, and, perhaps just as importantly, lighter. Shaving weight is a huge issue when it comes to high performance, so M engineers are looking for ways to shed poundage. Expect heavy doses of carbon fiber and other lightweight components wherever possible. The goal is a 50:50 weight distribution. Another notable different between this M3 and the current one will be driving feel. The G80 M3 will have a more compliant, less harsh ride than today's M3.
This will allow for better control at the limit and better balance overall. Pricing should remain fairly similar to what it is now, for the M3 at least. Taking the water-injection, mild hybrid system, and everything else into account, there's no doubt M engineers have set the bar high for themselves. We speak to BMW M boss Frank Van Meel whenever we can at auto shows and he loves nothing more than to surprise people, especially the Porsche folks in Stuttgart.