Merry early Christmas.
Although BMW M CEO Markus Flasch revealed last September the upcoming next-generation BMW M3 will indeed be offered with a manual, we had yet to see physical proof this was indeed happening. Today, that proof has arrived. Over the weekend, our spy photographers sent us some photos of the next BMW M3 out in the city streets covered in the usual camouflage. No surprise there. However, there was one photo in particular that immediately caught our attention: an interior shot with a manual gear shift clearly visible.
Flasch also made clear the manual-equipped next-gen M3 (and M4) will not be the ultimate performance version simply because a state-of-the-art automatic gearbox can shift faster than any human being. However, a manual-equipped M car certainly offers plenty of additional character. BMW has previously said that if it weren't for its US market demand, a manual M3 probably wouldn't have had happened.
The point being is that BMW M listened to its customers and responded in kind. Aside from the first manual gearbox image and the sports seats and optional carbon fiber buckets, these spy shots also reveal more of the exterior, specifically the production side sills and wider fenders. Out back there's a lip spoiler on the trunk. And, of course, there's the massive front grille.
Previous spy shots revealed its existence and, since then, BMW has claimed the general response to its bold styling decision has been mostly positive. We'll just have to see what it looks like in production form to make a final judgment.
Under the hood, expect the new M3 and M4 to come powered by the same 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged inline-six found in the X3 M and X4 M. Though still unconfirmed, the base M3 could produce around 473 horsepower while the M3 Competition will have 503 hp. However, the M3 Competition is expected to come with an all-wheel drive system as standard, though it can be switched to rear-wheel-drive just like it can be in the current M5.
We don't know when exactly the new M3 will be unveiled, but it's expected to go on sale as a 2021 model.