Now that the G20 3 Series is out of the bag, taking all of BMW’s premium saloon range onto their unified CLAR (Cluster Architecture) platform, the Munich automaker’s M performance division has now been handed the slate from which to build the next great driver’s Bimmer.
Expected to be revealed for a 2020 launch window, the all-new M3 is expected to follow a very similar formula to the current F80, according to Autocar, but unlike the outgoing car, the next four-door (only) super saloon may not feature a motor any more exotic than the ones currently being slotted into cars like the 340i and M140i.
According to the report, the next M3 will be powered by a 3.0-litre straight-6 petrol but instead of being twin-turbocharged and an updated version of the more finely engineered and highly strung S55, it will be a tuned up version of the B58 unit which uses a single twin-scroll turbocharger.
Despite this, the next M3 is expected to deliver even more impressive numbers thanks to an overall lighter body, stiffer shell, and a 338kW power output thanks to a water injection system lifted from the M4 GTS to allow for higher boost pressures at lowered operating temperatures.
It’s still debatable whether or not BMW will choose to adopt the M xDrive all-wheel drive system into the next M3 as well, effectively setting the stage for all M cars no longer be classified as rear-wheel driven going forward.
BMW, of course, is keen to stress that the all-wheel drive system is very lax about providing ultimate grip in typical driving conditions, mimicking the feel of a RWD layout during 90 percent or so of the time, and sending drive frontward only when absolutely necessary. Shortly after the debut of this new M3, we are surely to see an AWD M4 and M2 come down the pipe as well as - we hope - an M3 Touring.
All that said, it seems that insiders have indicated to Autocar that both an all-wheel drive system and some form of electrification have been overruled for this upcoming generation of M3, with concerns surrounding weight and complexity being the primary factors of its vetoing. Still, the possibility that the M3 following the G20-based model will retain both RWD and a petrol-only powertrain are slim.
As with the previous generations of M3, this G20-based car will incorporate CFRP (carbon fibre reinforced polymer) in construction of some major components such as its roof and bonnet. Paired with the additional firepower under the bonnet, a 0-100km/h sprint time of under four seconds is being floated as a project goal within the M division, with much engine calibration and tuning of the gearing being done to ensure that.
It’s also likely that the sub-4 second acceleration figure will only be achievable by the auto box, an 8-speed ZF torque converter automatic, with the manual capable of the same feat a few tenths later.
Despite the next M3 likely remaining rear-wheel driven, BMW are very keen on making headway on its dynamics in different ways, namely by incorporating a rear-wheel steer system to improve agility at slower speeds and high speed stability. Similar tactics have been deployed in recent performance cars such as the Renault Megane RS and Porsche 911 GT3 to dramatic results.