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New BMW M3: rear drive manual version looks set to launch

By Andy Enright, 21 Jan 2019 News

New BMW M3

Entry-level tearaway to be sold alongside all-wheel drive flagship

BMW’s next-generation M3 is set to be revealed at September’s Frankfurt Motor Show and Car, our sister title in the UK, has some good news to report.

Heavyweight European correspondent Georg Kacher – whose intel is normally bulletproof - reports that the M3, with its M4 coupe sibling, is set to get a 353kW version of its twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre lump which outmuscles both the Audi RS4 and the Mercedes-AMG C63. Factor in a 65kg weight loss and performance can best be described as more than adequate.

Read next: 2018 BMW M3 CS: Celebrating driver's cars

More intriguingly, BMW has split the M3/M4 range. There’s rumoured to be a rear-drive entry-level variant, following the philosophy of the current ‘Pure’ models, powered by a slightly detuned 339kW powerplant and with a manual transmission and a sharp e-diff at the rear.

As reported in Wheels back in September 2018, BMW’s former M division boss Frank van Meel has gone on record stating that there’s a level above which all-wheel drive is a necessity.

New BMW M3

The twin-turbo S58 engine can generate torque in excess of 650Nm, which is purportedly the maximum amount of torque that can be run through BMW’s manual transmission, so expect the entry-level rear-drive versions to come in just under that figure and the full-fat xDrive versions to exceed it.

Read next: BMW M3 Competition Pack Quick Review

The xDrive models will feature the same switchable AWD/RWD function as seen in the current M5.

A soft-top M4 Cabriolet is also in the pipeline, ditching the folding hard top of its predecessor. Those looking for an even sharper focus will savour the forthcoming M4 Competition, due in 2021, which will generate a Mercedes-AMG C63 S-equalling 375kW.

Beyond that, CS and CSL versions of the M4 are said to be in advanced planning.

Read more news about the BMW M3

Bad news for those who love a hot wagon is that in an internal shootout at BMW’s Munich HQ, the proposal for a four-door M4 Gran Coupe got the nod over an M3 Touring. With a Q3 reveal, expect the M3 to land in Australia some time early in 2020.