Next-generation M3 spied testing

There will reportedly be three versions of the new M3, with different power outputs and two- or all-wheel drive. Picture: SPIEDBILDE/BRIAN WILLIAMS
There will reportedly be three versions of the new M3, with different power outputs and two- or all-wheel drive. Picture: SPIEDBILDE/BRIAN WILLIAMS

The new-generation BMW 3 Series is about to be launched in SA next month, but already spy pictures and details are emerging about the upcoming M3 version.

It seems the M3 and its M4 coupe cousin will henceforth be sold in three variants with different outputs and drivetrains: Pure, Base, and an xDrive model with all-wheel drive.

The Pure, if the rumours and BMW forums are to be believed, will be a rear-wheel drive, fewer-frills drivers’ car putting out around 343kW from its 3.0-litre twin turbo straight six engine and offering a manual gearbox.

The upper two models – the rear-wheel drive Base and the xDrive - will reportedly get the same engine with power tweaked to around 358kW, paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission.

The current M4 (the M3 is no longer sold in SA) makes 317kW standard, 331kW in Competition Pack form, and 338kW in top-of-the-range CS guise.

The xDrive would be the first M3/M4 to offer four-wheel drive, and it’s expected to be a similar system as the new M5 with the ability to toggle between rear- and all-wheel drive.

The engine, dubbed S58, will be equipped with water injection to cool the high combustion temperatures.

The quad exhausts reveal this to be the new M3 underneath the disguise. Picture: SPIEDBILDE/BRIAN WILLIAMS
The quad exhausts reveal this to be the new M3 underneath the disguise. Picture: SPIEDBILDE/BRIAN WILLIAMS

Styling-wise, spy shots of a disguised M3 being tested in Europe reveal a lower stance, wider fenders and the customary four exhaust tips. The grille looks to be large, though it’s unlikely to be as supersized as the contentious one on the recently-restyled 7 Series.

Apart from the four-door M3 sedan and two-door M4 coupe, there will also reportedly be a four-door M4 Gran Coupe.

BMW isn’t revealing a launch date yet but it’s likely to be later this year, possibly at the Paris Motor Show in October.

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