Rumored to pack close to 500 horsepower underneath that camouflaged hood.

While BMW is putting the finishing touches on the first-ever fully fledged M versions of the X3 and X4 crossovers, it’s also perfecting the next iteration of its legendary M3. Originally launched in 1986 for the E30 model, the high-performance sedan is getting ready to embrace a new generation likely scheduled to come out at some point in 2020.

Another prototype of the speedy sedan (codenamed “G80”) was seen this week tackling the challenging Nürburgring, riding low and carrying extra layers of swirly camouflage to conceal what must have been the production body. The test vehicle seemed to feature the provisional headlights and taillights, which is usually a sign that it will take a while until the production-ready model will come out.

New spy shots have arrived:

Despite the extensive disguise, we can see the proportions will remain just about the same, although it may turn out to be a tad wider and the wheelbase could be slightly extended to free up leg room for rear passengers. The back of the car is hiding a subtle trunk lid spoiler, and by the looks of it, the car did not have the final exhaust system.

Latest intel suggests the turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six engine will be tuned to deliver close to 500 horsepower channeled as usual to the rear wheels, but rumor has it the M3 will also be offered with an optional xDrive. The RWD model is expected to be lighter than today’s model after switching to the CLAR platform already underpinning several new BMWs.

The M3 sedan will be joined once again by its two-door M4 Coupe and Convertible siblings and all three are said to share a 48-volt mild hybrid system. We’ve heard through the grapevine that the M4 GTS’ water-injection system could trickle down to the regular M3/M4, though we’ll have to wait and see about that. Like the Audi SQ7 and the equivalent Bentley Bentayga Diesel, the M trio could also boast electrically spooled turbochargers for instant response as a way to virtually eliminate the dreaded turbo lag.

But before the next M3 arrives, this fall we will reportedly get to see the regular 3 Series (G20). It will be joined in 2019 by the more practical wagon (G21) and in 2020 by the refreshed 4 Series Coupe (G22) & Convertible (G23).

Photos: Automedia

Gallery: 2020 BMW M3 spied at the Nurburgring