Automotive news media sources are reporting that the next-generation M3, which will likely ride on what is being referred as the G80 platform, is scheduled for its world premier at the Frankfurt Auto Show in September. Speculation, which we have previously examined, includes the use of the new S58 M inline six-cylinder engine, which is currently being used in the new X3 and X4 M models, along with selectable xDrive, just like the system found in the current F90 M5, which allows for world-beating acceleration and Michelin-melting drifts from the executive midsize sedan.
With F80 M3 production having signed off last year, and the F82 M4 scheduled to carry on just a bit longer, it is most certainly time for new models to join the M lineup. There are various artists renderings and spy photos available if one wishes to perform a quick Internet search, but right now, the closest thing to the upcoming M3 that is currently available in the BMW model portfolio is the M340i.
Based on the seventh-generation 3 Series platform, internally referred to as G20, the M340i appears visually similar to its more economical stablemates like the 330i, but the M Performance treatment now incorporates the use of more visually differentiating items than ever before, such as the kidney grille, which is reminiscent of what the current Z4 M40i wears. M double-spoke light alloy wheels and standard M Sport brakes are items we’re used to seeing on performance range-topping or previous M Sport-equipped models like the M340i, and here they continue to round out the package.
The M340i just recently began arriving at U.S. BMW Centers, and is easily the most potent 3 Series yet. Packing 382 horsepower from 5,000 to 6,500 rpm in U.S. specifications with 369 pound-feet of torque available from 1,600 to 4,500, the latest six-cylinder 3 Series comes standard with an M Sport limited slip differential and can be had in rear-drive form, but is perhaps best enjoyed with xDrive, which makes for improved acceleration. The engine behind such potent figures is the B58, which initially came to market for the 2016 model year beneath the hood of the F30 340i.
Earlier this year, coinciding with the X3 and X4 M announcement, BMW also released its newest M inline-six. Developed from the B58, the new S58 is a seriously potent engine, and many detailed specifics of the difference between it and the S55, which it succeeds, can be found here. In short, ultra high-pressure direct fuel injection running at over 5,000 PSI, a closed deck block layout, cylinder head cores made using additive 3D manufacturing, and turbochargers with improved compressor wheels are all part of what makes the S58 more powerful, while precise displacement of 2,993cc indicates that it shares a bit in common with the prior N55, S55, and B58 designs.
With xDrive AWD routing power to pavement at all four corners, and an improved, potentially lighter chassis and body, the S58 seems like it will find a perfect home under the hood of the upcoming M3. There’s no need to overstate how much BMW has riding on the every new generation of M car, but in a world where emissions standards seem to be at their most aggress in decades, and engines meeting their end before their planned production sunset, the G80 M3 is particularly important. So far, everything sounds good on paper, and with the current M5 and M5 Competition in mind, we’re very excited to see what the next M3 will be capable of.—Alex Tock
[Photos courtesy BMW AG.]