Looking ahead, the popular magazine Car and Driver attempts to predict the future of the just as popular, BMW M3. The recent rumors around the brand are placing the future M3 into the “turbo world” where all the M cars will be equipped with turbo-based powerplants.
The subject of a naturally aspirated vs. a turbo-engine has been long debated and the purpose of this article is not to continue that endless confrontation.
So, let’s begin with C&D’s take on the future M3.
BMW has gone direct-injection and turbo crazy, an obsession that should manifest under the hood of the next M3 as a hairier version of the turbocharged six BMW uses elsewhere. That twin-turbo 3.0-liter now makes up to 335 hp in new higher-performance versions of the Z4 and 3-series, and a single-turbo six good for 300 horses replaces the twin-turbo in most other applications. This frees the twin-turbo’s output to head for the moon. Having crossed the 400-hp threshold with the V-8 in the current M3, BMW isn’t likely to go back.
Less than 400 hp is possible, however, if the engineers at M decide to go really crazy. We anticipate an overall lightening of the M3 in its next generation, and if that weight-loss plan is particularly successful, we could see a turbo four-cylinder installed in the next M3. The first M3 was powered by a four-cylinder, and if sufficient performance levels can be achieved in a lighter car, there’s a possibility BMW would go back to a four-pot—which would further slash loads of weight from the engine room. And less weight means less power to achieve the same performance—not to mention better handling.
Pretty fair statements so far and they are certainly on the right track…..with some things. While there is no doubt that the future BMW M3, codename F32, will indeed feature a turbo engine, the odds of seeing a four-cylinder turbo in there is very slim. Even if BMW somehow manages to keep the weight of the next M3 as the same levels as the current one, or even lower by using more carbon fiber elements, the four-cylinder engine will most likely be reserved for a different model……and our bets go on the BMW M1.
Now the question is: will it be the M1 based on the current 1 Series Coupe? Or another M1 to come out the distant future? The E82 based BMW M1, or whichever name will carry, is rumored to be powered by an updated/upgraded N55 engine by the M Divison, but moving to a new 1 Series design in the future and aligning with BMW’s goals to produce smaller, more efficient but still powerful cars, we expect to see an upgraded four-cylinder turbo engine in that particular M1. This automatically fills up a spot right below the M3 and naturally the next model will have to maintain its superiority.
But will it be with a six-cylinder turbo engine or just another upgraded V8 twin-scroll as seen in the X5M/X6M?
The possibilities are indeed vast and truth is that BMW holds the key to this riddle, but we expect to see the BMW M1 Concept at the Geneva Motor Show and based on that, to learn more about the future of M divison.
But here is another thought we have. What if the future BMW M3 will be powered by a high-rev engine based on the twin-scroll N55? What if we are going to see another “S” labeled engine, but based on the “N” technology?
Is it feasible? Would it work?
Time will tell, but judging based on their track record, BMW is known for pushing the envelope and constantly innovating.