The BMW Concept 4 made a big splash earlier this month at the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show due to its supersized kidneys, and with good reason, some are worried the next M3 will also employ a similar in-your-face grille. A new spy video shot at the Nürburgring fuels those concerns as some of the prototypes had an unusually tall camouflage piece right where you’d expect the big grille to be. Not all hope is lost as a different prototype – carrying a license plate ending in “2479” – appears to have a normal front fascia without the gargantuan kidneys.
New corporate face aside, the M3 will represent an obvious step up from the M340i. Just like the warm M Performance version on sale globally for quite some time, you’ll be able to get one with a choice from either rear- or all-wheel drive. Not only that, but BMW has repeatedly confirmed an old-school manual gearbox will be offered alongside the quicker auto in a bid to lure more buyers.
These test vehicles spotted at the ‘Ring gym are covered up in camouflage, but the quad exhaust reserved to the full-fat M model is clearly visible. The lovely soundtrack is provided by the same engine you’ll find in the new X3 M and X4 M together with their hotter Competition models, with the sedan’s output expected to mirror what the performance SUVs are offering.
BMW might have an ace up the M3’s sleeve as the company recently admitted the S58’s maximum potential has not been reached. In other words, the twin-turbo inline-six might push out more than the 503 horsepower available in the aforementioned Competition-badged SUVs. If a more potent M3 is en route, chances are it won’t be launched from day one together with the regular M3 due in 2020.
Gallery: 2020 BMW M3 Nurburgring Spy Photos
In an attempt to diversify the M3 portfolio and attract more customers, BMW is planning a “Pure” (working title) variant exclusively with rear-wheel drive and a six-speed manual teamed up with an electronically controlled differential lock. The back-to-basics M3 will have roughly 450 hp compared to the 480 hp of the standard model and 510 hp of the Competition model.
The more affordable M3 “Pure” will also have a slightly different bodywork, bespoke alloy wheels, model-exclusive paint job, and some changes inside the cabin. Sounds like the pick-of-the-range in our books, but it remains to be seen whether BMW will sell it all over the world.
Despite been caught a zillion times already, the new BMW M3 is not debuting anytime soon. A mid-2020 reveal is expected, therefore the potent sedan will be a 2021MY in the United States.