► New 2020 BMW M3
► G20 M3 due at Frankfurt
► Nearly 500bhp, 2wd or 4wd
The M5 has the beef and the M8 has the drama, but it’s the smaller BMW M3 that has always got to the heart of the M experience most strongly. For immersive handling at a relatively accessible price, Three is the magic number.
This year the M3 and its brasher two-door M4 sibling will regenerate at September’s Frankfurt motor show. They’ll both go up in price a tad, but so does power (to 474bhp) and torque (to at least 480lb ft). That’s 30bhp more than the Audi RS4/5 can muster, and eclipses the Mercedes-AMG C63 saloon (though it’s shy of the uprated 503bhp C63 S).
The picture looks even rosier when you throw in a 65kg weight loss versus its predecessor, improved aerodynamics (including more targeted distribution of downforce), stiffer bodywork and reworked suspension.
Read more about 2019's hottest new cars in the February 2019 issue of CAR magazine, out now
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.
Instead the Pure versions (production name still tbc) 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.
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.
Our snappers have got pictures of the new BMW M3 testing, just days after the unveil of the ‘stock’ BMW 3-series. The new pictures show the new 2020 M3, codenamed G80, testing at the Nordschleife, and offer the best look yet at what that M-letter will bring to the new car.
Our spy pictures reveal the larger-than-life brake discs, traditional M division quad-tailpipe exhausts and other go-faster paraphernalia familiar from five earlier generations of M3. And if you want to see what the 2020 M3 will could look like shorn of its disguise, check out our artist's impressions below. Of course, now that we've seen the finished 3-series, there are a few bits to overlook...
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