New BMW M3 and M4 leak before official reveal

Next-gen performance duo share bold new front end and turbocharged 3.0-litre straight-six.

The next-generation BMW M3 and its two-door M4 sibling have been revealed in a series of images posted online ahead of their official debut tonight.

Shared on Reddit by user Avaley, the high-quality images confirm that Munich’s mechanically identical performance duo will wear the same vertically oriented front grille as the newly revealed second-generation 4 Series, rather than a variation of the G20 3 Series’ more subtle front end.

Elsewhere, significantly widened wheel arches set the M3 and M4 apart from their standard counterparts, while bespoke rear end designs incorporate a prominent downforce-enhancing diffuser, a subtle lip spoiler and a quad-exit sports exhaust. The pair also receive unique wheel designs, a contrasting roof and new bonnets with added creases for a more aggressive look.

The hotly anticipated performance sedans will use an extensively updated version of BMW’s twin-scroll turbocharged 3.0-litre straight-six engine, producing 353kW and 600Nm in entry-level form. As with the X3 M and X4 M performance SUVs, a top-rung Competition variant (which will likely be the only available option in Australia) will produce in excess of 373kW.

For the first time on an M3, four-wheel drive will become an option soon after the new cars’ launch but all forms of electrification are believed to have been vetoed. However, persistent reports suggest that they could be the final M models to be launched without some form of electrification; something made necessary by the increasing priority of meeting fleet-average CO2 targets.

There are no confirmed details about the pair’s performance, but the lighter, more powerful cars will eclipse the current M3 CS’s 0-100km/h time of 3.9sec. They will be sold with a choice of a six-speed manual gearbox or an optional eight-speed automatic, but the auto will enable better performance figures thanks to a built-in electronic launch control system.

The M3 and M4 will also benefit from the increased rigidity offered by their part-aluminium, part-high-strength steel CLAR underpinnings. This is a key reason behind BMW already making class-leading claims about the dynamic abilities of the base 3 Series. The regular car’s wider track and uprated suspension systems should also give engineers the foundations for a more dynamically capable M3 and M4.

As well as offering greater performance potential, the stiffer chassis will reduce the amount of vibration transmitted into the cabin to enhance overall refinement. It should also allow engineers to adopt softer spring rates to give the M3 and M4 a more compliant ride in their most comfortable mode, without hampering the car’s overall dynamic ability.

Inside, images show that the duo will follow in the M5’s footsteps by swapping the current dash-top infotainment screen for one that’s more tidily integrated into the dashboard. The iDrive system will retain a rotary control knob, which has been praised for its ease of use in current cars.

The duo will also gain significantly more advanced driver assist features, but former BMW sales and marketing boss Ian Robertson has hinted that most BMW models will steer clear of the full autonomous hardware suites to be used on i5 and i7 due from 2021. M models, in particular, will still possess a very driver-centric character.

It remains uncertain whether the cars will feature an active rear-wheel steering system to enhance agility and boost high-speed stability. Although it is under consideration, the business case for developing the system for the M3 and M4 only is believed to be under debate. If the hardware does make the cut and is fitted to the super-saloon, it will not then be rolled out the standard 3 Series and 4 Series.

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