BMW has released a few tantalising details of its 2021 M3 Saloon and M4 Coupe, along with a set of shots of camouflaged prototypes undergoing track testing in Germany.
Good news for keen enthusiasts
First and foremost, a few answers to questions the diehard BMW M fans will undoubtedly have: yes, a manual gearbox will be available and no, the BMW M3 and M4 do not use M xDrive all-wheel drive. Well, they don't at the initial launch in 2021 in any case, though BMW has confirmed that it does intend to offer M xDrive on the M3/M4 twins at a later stage.
Power comes from a 'newly developed' straight-six petrol engine. The regular versions of the M3 and M4 get 480hp and a six-speed manual gearbox. The M3 and M4 Competition use an eight-speed Steptronic automatic transmission with Drivelogic (presumably as used in the BMW M5 etc.) and peak power is upped to 510hp. That sounds suspiciously identical to the output of the BMW X3 M and X4 M, though the M3 and M4 trump their SUV siblings with 650Nm of torque.
"For customers who prefer a puristic performance experience and particularly intense interaction with their vehicle, the model variants with a manual transmission constitute an offer that is unique in this segment," explains Dirk Häcker, head of Development M Automobiles and BMW Individual.
Chassis to match - we're told
BMW's release was light on detail in this regard, but it does promise 'comprehensive innovations in the areas of drive, wheel suspension, springs, dampers and braking technology,' so expect a few tricks up the sleeves of the M3 and M4. The pictures don't give a lot away. The gold callipers that come with BMW's carbon ceramic brake discs are shown, but we expect those to be optional. It is possible that the M cars will adopt the two-mode braking feel system pioneered in the BMW M8 and we assume that an active M differential will be standard. Other than that, there appear to be two M mode buttons covered in black tape on the interior, so it will be possible to pre-program your favourite suite of drive system settings together.
A word from the boss of BMW M
"With each BMW M automobile, we put motorsport technology on the road," says Markus Flasch, chairman of the board of the BMW M GmbH. "The new BMW M3 Sedan and the new BMW M4 Coupe embody this principle in a particularly intensive way, because both models stand unmistakably in the tradition of the most successful touring car worldwide. And results of the test drives show us that the new model generation is significantly superior to that of its predecessors in terms of performance."