If you were hoping to see the next-gen M3 unveiled at the Frankfurt Auto Show this September, chances are you’re at least a little disappointed. The BimmerLife team has been covering the next-gen M3 and M4 speculation for some time now, and like many other enthusiasts, our anticipation for the upcoming M3, a staple of the brand, will only continue to grow amid BMW M CEO Markus Flasch’s latest statement regarding the official debut date.

The G20 3-Series, which is rumored to share similar design cues with the new G80 M3.

Confirmed by Flasch in a recent statement for Australia’s Carsales magazine, the executive stated that while the next-gen M3 and M4 models are no longer prototypes, full production will not occur until 2020 and the full debut will not even happen until 2021, a nightmare if you’re growing impatient to see the new design like I am. The new design is still being kept clandestine, but all of the cloak-and-dagger isn’t without reason.

Recent spy photos leaked of a pre-production M3 exposed the entire rear of the M, revealing slightly more aggressive tail lights than the recently unveiled G20 3-series, made up of sharp body lines, and a tasteful rear decklid spoiler—an aesthetically-pleasing combination that may be less celebrated when we get confirmation on the reality of the kidney grille size. The spy photos show a comically-large pair of kidney grilles, something that’s been riling up BMW enthusiasts since the debut of the current 7 Series LCI, G07 X7, and the controversial front end design of the Concept 4. This rather negative stance taken by enthusiasts may be largely out of fear that the new G80 will stray too far from BMW’s traditional design cues, and perhaps lose sight of decades worth of automotive design the brand is famous for. After all, the kidney grilles are integral to BMW’s signature styling, and a botched design has the potential to go over badly with consumers.

The X3 M Competition and X4 M Competition boast a larger pair of kidney grilles and the same S58 powerplant that the next-gen M3 and M4 will have.

While the next-gen M4 design remains even more hidden, not everything is a covert operation. We now know that the upcoming iterations of our favorite performance sedan and coupe will have upwards of 473 horsepower (and over 500 for Competition models) coming from an S58 engine, the same twin-turbo inline-six BMW currently uses in their X3 M and X4 M. We reported back in August that the all-wheel-drive drivetrain for the base and Competition trims may be similar to the F90 M5’s, but this still remains unconfirmed. Markus Flasch did imply, however, that the next-gen models will come in both rear-drive and xDrive, and enthusiasts will also be able to choose between a quick-shifting automatic transmission or a conventional manual transmission, the latter being reserved for rear-drive models with lower horsepower.

Speaking of purist models, The Drive has reported that a “Pure” trim level may also become available, a welcome addition to the current package lineup. The “Pure” trim, like its name suggests, will come out-of-the-box like as a traditional, driver-focused BMW, with purist-approved rear-wheel-drive system and a manual transmission. If this rumor ends up being fact, this trim has the potential to keep BMW’s heritage alive.

While incredible technology is engineered every year, more and more vehicle regulations threaten to dictate the performance aspects and driving experiences of new vehicles. The next-gen M3 and M4 have the potential to change this, and now with the debut further in the distance, all we can do is wait.—Malia Murphy

[Photos courtesy BMW AG.]



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