This is the sports car that every driver has been waiting for – the new BMW M3.
The model has consistently set the performance coupé benchmark, and this latest version will raise the bar further with its more efficient 3.0-litre turbocharged straight-six engine. Replacing the much-loved 4.0-litre V8, it will be the first turbo to grace the M3. This will help to improve overall fuel consumption and reduce emissions, even on high-performance BMWs.
Even so, the engine will pack a serious punch, delivering around 450bhp. It is likely to be a development of the unit used by the 1-Series M Coupé, but with approximately another 100bhp, it should be able to push the car from 0-62mph in 4.5 seconds and on to an electronically limited top speed of 155mph.
The engine is mated to a choice of six-speed manual or twin-clutch paddleshift gearboxes. The car gets the latest M Sport active diff, too, and will be better to drive than the previous M3, as well as faster, lighter – thanks to composite materials – and more efficient. It will also be a real head-turner. As with the current car, the coupé will get sleek bodywork with unique panels. These will give it a longer, sportier profile, complemented by a more rakish windscreen.
Think of the car as a downsized version of the new 6-Series and you’ll get the idea. The M3 will add a muscular bodykit, low front splitter and air intakes. In addition to the Coupé we have illustrated here, there will be a drop-top Convertible.
However, this time there won’t be an M3 saloon option – the four-door has been relatively unpopular, so BMW is likely to drop it from the range. Expect to see the new M3 in 2012.