By now, we’ve spilled enough virtual ink about the upcoming BMW M3 and M4 to fill a digital Exxon Valdez. The new high-performance versions of the current-generation 3 Series are expected to make their debut sometime in 2020, with the fresh twin-turbo inline-six from the X3 M and X4 M beneath their hoods and a ginormous beaver-tooth grill in front. A so-called “pure” version packing a manual gearbox and rear-wheel-drive will be on offer, as an alternative to the increasingly ubiquitous automatic/all-wheel-drive combo of BMW M products.
But we just learned a twist that made us sit bolt upright in our home office chairs: the new BMW M3 and M4 may not be the most powerful member of the 3 Series lineup.
According to the well-connected folks at Autocar, the beefiest member of the broader 3 Series family — which, BMW’s shifting nomenclature be damned, includes the 4 Series coupes, convertibles and four-door Gran Coupes — will actually be the all-electric BMW i4 due to enter production in 2021 (and pictured above in concept car form). That battery-powered Tesla Model 3 fighter will reportedly crank out a maximum of 523 horsepower — enough to edge out the 503-hp M3 and M4. Thanks to the instantaneous torque of its dual electric motors, it should feel even faster than that output suggests.
Still, the internal-combustion M3 and M4 should remain the enthusiasts’ choices, thanks to the whole package of upgrades the BMW M crew always brings to the table. In the case of the new cars, that will allegedly include more variants than ever; for the first time, the M4 will come in a four-door Gran Coupe variant as well as two-door hardtop and soft-top versions. If this seems liable to create some heavy intramural competition with the M3, keep in mind Bimmer already does this with the M5 and M8 Gran Coupe…as well as with the X3 M and X4 M, and the X5 M and X6 M. If anything, we’re surprised it took this long for BMW to pull this lever.
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