Engineers are certainly putting the sports sedan through its paces.
Spy photographers camped out at the Nürburgring have once again caught the forthcoming BMW M3 turning laps. Automotive Mike captured the latest round of testing on high-definition video, and BMW test drivers aren’t exactly taking it easy around the Nordschleife. Some passes in front of the camera are merely aggressive, while others are literally on the ragged edge. We see the Bimmer run very wide a couple of times at Brünnchen, tires holding on for dear life. But hold it does, and it looks quite fast.
Camouflage is still thick on the front of these prototypes, so we don’t yet know what kind of design BMW has in store for the storied sport sedan. The current 3 Series has a rather busy front fascia full of angles, intersecting body lines, and of course the big kidney grille which now connects in the middle. A cleaner approach could give the larger-than-ever 3er a measure of elegant aggression, but we’ll likely have to wait a while before learning what’s behind all the cladding.
Gallery: 2021 BMW M3 Spy Screenshots
We already know what’s under the hood, or rather, we’re extremely confident we know what will be there. BMW’s 3.0-liter twin-turbo inline-six, known internally as the S58, develops 473 horsepower (353 kilowatts) in the X3 M and it should offer the same kind of thrust for the M3. An M3 Competition model will have even more power – 503 hp (375 kW) to be specific – and it all goes to the ground through BMW’s xDrive all-wheel-drive system borrowed from the M5.
If a large BMW M3 with all-wheel-drive and a dual-clutch automatic sounds far removed from the M3’s roots, there should be some recompense for purists. We’ve heard that BMW will offer a version with a manual and no all-wheel-drive system, though recent reports suggest the manual could still be an option throughout the range. In any case, it appears BMW isn’t ready to totally recast the M3 just yet.
As for when we’ll finally get these questions answered, that’s another question unto itself. Initial thinking had the hardcore Bimmer debuting later in 2019, likely at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September. Other reports now say it won’t arrive until 2020 as a 2021 model. One thing is for certain – the world misses the M3 so hopefully, we’ll get a reveal sooner rather than later.