New 2020 BMW M3: fresh pictures of hot 3-series

Published: 20 July 2020

► New 2020 BMW M3
► G20 M3 due at Frankfurt
► Nearly 500bhp, 2wd or 4wd

New spy shots of the next M3 prove it’ll be just as divisive looking as its larger, M4 sibling. New pictures show the car in lighter camo and feature the tell-tale signs of the same mole-toothed styling Munich has afflicted the M4.  

Both the M3 and M4 will be shown September this year, but while the M4 retains the grille from the new 4-series, this represents a departure from the more conservatively styled 3-Series. It appears BMW is doubling down on its bold, new, styling direction. 

Keep reading for more on the M3. 

New BMW M3: how much power? 

The boss of BMW M division, Markus Flasch, has confirmed to CAR magazine that the next M3 will be powered by the same twin-turbo six-cylinder engine as the high-performance SUVs, boasting power outputs of 480bhp and 510bhp. It's a move that reflects Mercedes-AMG's two-tier engine strategy.

'The next BMW M3 will have the brand new S58 engine that we're launching in the X3 M and X4 M,' he told us in an interview for the August 2019 issue. 'It will have 480bhp in the standard version and 510bhp in the Competition version.

'Drivetrain-wise, think about the M5's all-wheel drive system - we are able to put it in the M3 as well. It'll be very similar. But we will also do rear-wheel drive cars, purer ones too and a manual stick shift.'

New 2020 BMW M3: two- or four-wheel drive

The extra power was a given. What was less clear was how many wheels the new M3 would put it through. The answer: either two or four. Base versions of the new M3 will be purely rear-wheel drive, while pricier M xDrive all-wheel-drive variants will include the same 2wd toggle mode as the M5.

More enticingly, BMW is planning entry-level M3 and M4 variants, sold as reduced-to-the-max drivers’ cars. The internal nickname is M3 and M4 Pure, which sums up their role as no-frills, back-to-the-roots extensions of the range. They’ll have a little less power than the plusher models, 454bhp rather than 474bhp, but they’ll be the only M3/M4 variants without the otherwise standard eight-speed automatic transmission, and M xDrive system will be off limits too.

Flasch, the boss of BMW M, told us that 'Pure' was purely a working title. We'd predict Competition will continue as the badge for the punchier versions.

Pure versions will use a six-speed manual transmission, and their rear-wheel-drive layout will be complemented by a quicker-acting electronically controlled diff lock.

To underline their position as totally immersive hardcore slide-masters, the Pure editions are set to get restyled aprons front and rear, their own wheel design, an optional standalone signature paintjob (unconfirmed for the UK), special fabric and alcantara upholstery, colour-coded cabin trim and bespoke instrument graphics. Slightly cheaper and focused, the Pure versions could have what it takes to become the M division’s real McCoys.

BMW M3 and M4 Pure: a pure-bred driver's focus

The Pure is the only M3/M4 offered with a manual gearbox because BMW has no stickshift that can handle more than 480lb ft – which higher-grade versions will exceed. Said torque comes from a twin-turbo 3.0-litre straight-six dubbed S58, the most sophisticated in-line six-cylinder unit ever conceived by the M division. It’s fitted with water-injection to cool the high combustion temperatures, and with a new petrol particulate filter to placate emissions watchdogs.

As for the M3’s two-door M4 sibling, the M4 cabriolet switches from metal to soft top when it launches late next year. Over time, M division intends to launch three additional go-faster M4s. The M4 Competition (expected 2021) benefits from more aggressive boost pressure, higher compression ratio, a more voluminous intake manifold and a less restrictive exhaust to pump out 503bhp, thus matching the C63 S AMG.

The new BMW M3 (2020): CAR magazine's artist impression reveals the G80

Further down the line, the M4 coupe is tipped for CS and CSL packs. While the CS will allegedly come in a relatively understated wrapper, the limited-edition (and pricey) CSL will get the full-monty bodykit, including an almighty rear wing and front air dam, notably higher composite content including carbon-ceramic brakes, racing seats (the rear bench is a delete option, while a rollcage is an optional extra), and a bespoke instrument display.

The Michelin Cup tyres go up one size, the suspension and the aero pack can be adjusted for track use, and the entire drivetrain will be tuned for the fastest possible response. The power figures are still provisional but we’re talking around 530bhp for the CS and an even meaner 550bhp for the CSL.

Meanwhile, bad news for those hankering for an M3 estate: there are currently no plans for an M3 Touring. According to a source from the BMW M department, in 2020 the M range will include a four-door M4 Gran Coupe, which easily eclipsed a proposal for an M3 Touring in an internal shootout.

More BMW scoops and spyshots

By Georg Kacher

European editor, secrets uncoverer, futurist, first man behind any wheel