In Depth

BMW M3 and M4 2020: flagship models to get new 500bhp engine

New upgraded saloon and coupe are due to be unveiled in Frankfurt in September

New versions of BMW’s M3 and M4 sports cars are due to be unveiled later this year before hitting the showrooms in 2020. 

The two cars are based on the new 3 Series saloon and 4 Series coupe, with BMW’s M division upgrading them extensively to deliver supercar-levels of performance. 

The next generation sports cars, dubbed the G80, are rumoured to be more driver-focused than the current M3 and M4. 

While spy photographers have spotted M3 and M4 development vehicles testing at the 12.9-mile Nurburgring circuit in Germany over the past few months, the heavy layer of camouflage covering the cars suggests there is still some way to go before production kicks off. 

Here’s everything you need to know about the new M3 and M4:

When do they come out?

The covers will come off the new M3 and M4 at the Frankfurt Motor Show, running from 12 to 22 September, according to Car magazine.

Expect sales to open in 2020, says Autocar, though pre-orders may open before the year is out. 

How much will they cost?

Official pricing won’t be revealed until closer to the new M3 and M4’s arrival later this year. Given that the current M3 is priced at around £55,000 and the M4 enters at near £60,000, expect the new versions of each car to carry a small premium. 

What engine will they have?

According to Autocar, the next-generation M3 and M4 will be powered by a “significantly upgraded” six-cylinder engine that will produce around 500bhp in range-topping models. 

The 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged straight-six engine is a revamped version of the motor that is found throughout the German carmaker’s line-up, the magazine says. 

But a BMW spokesperson told the motoring magazine that the engine was “for all intents and purposes an all-new drivetrain with significant changes” that allows it to “rev beyond 7000rpm.”

Earlier reports, meanwhile, suggest that the cars will be fitted with either an eight-speed automatic gearbox or a six-speed manual in entry-level “Pure” form, says Motoring, the Australian news site.  

There’s a chance BMW will equip the new cars with the same water injection system that first appeared on the hardcore M4 GTS in 2016, the website says. The system fires jets of water into the engine to cool the motor, which leads to a greater power output. 

Much like a petrol tank, drivers must fill their car’s water reservoir (found in the boot) to benefit from the performance boost.

Will they remain rear-wheel drive?

No. Speaking to Evo at the Geneva Motor Show last week, BMW’s M-division product planning chief Carsten Pries said the next M3 and M4 will do away with the current rear-wheel drive layout in favour of a new four-wheel drive system.

The four-wheel drive layout will be the same as the newly announced X3 M and X4 M SUVs, the motoring magazine says. However, BMW will equip the M3 saloon and M4 coupe with the electronic “wizardry” from the more expensive M5, allowing drivers to send all of the car’s power to the rear axle. 

Drivers will need to have their wits about them if they put their M3 or M4 into rear-wheel drive mode, says Top Gear. That’s because this mode disables the stability control, the systems that prevent vehicles from sliding when changing direction.

Markus Flasch, senior vice-president at BMW’s M division, told the motoring site that it’s unlikely that drivers will activate rear-wheel drive mode while on public roads.

“We considered if someone chooses to go on rear-wheel drive he wants to smoke the back tyres,” he said.

Are they going electric?

Not yet.

According to Autocar, neither the M3 nor M4 will come equipped with a hybrid system because it “would add too much weight, complexity and cost”. 

However, the motoring mag says that “persistent reports” indicate that the next generation of M3 and M4 will be the last to come with no form of electrification, as BMW plans to grow its hybrid and fully-electric range substantially over the next decade to curb rising CO2 emissions.

Will a manual gearbox be available?

Yes, if the rumours are anything to go by. 

BMW is reportedly planning to launch “Pure” versions for both the M3 and M4, featuring a rear-wheel drive layout and a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, Car magazine reports. 

So-called Pure models will also come with less power, 454bhp instead of 474bhp, but the removal of the weighty all-wheel drive system and eight-speed automatic gearbox should make them significantly lighter than the standard M3 and M4.

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