While we’re all looking at spy shots and videos of the upcoming BMW 8 Series and its M version, some other models that are also in testing these days might be overlooked. I’m referring, of course, to the new BMW 3 Series that is bound to be revealed next year as well. And while we all would love to buy and drive home an M850i, most of us will actually afford a 3 Series instead. The BMW M340i is shaping up to be the weapon of choice for enthusiasts already and the video below shows it going round the Ring.

The prototype is heavily camouflaged and we can’t really make out any distinctive design features but according to various sources inside Munich and even the saying of some officials, the new 3 Series will be differentiated from its bigger brothers and in a quite evident way too. Apparently, the big wigs in Munich agree that the cars need a more differentiated design and in that regard, the upcoming new models will have more character.

What that means exactly remains to be seen but it will apparently involve a new front fascia with the headlights separated from the kidney grilles, just as the new BMW X3 is sporting these days. Inside the cabin things will change as well, with the design moving forward, following what has been shown on the 8 Series Concept. Earlier spy shots showed a new design for the digital instrument cluster, one the mimics the what the 8er previewed.

Then there’s the performance. The M340i will be the only choice for those wanting a straight six petrol mill which is both good and bad. It’s good because you’ll get a lot of performance for the buck. The upgraded B58 engine will pack some 360 HP under its belt and 500 Nm (369 lb-ft) of torque, which, combined with xDrive, will turn the 3er into a proper, fast sedan. What remains to be seen is whether the M340i will be made available with a manual gearbox as well, while the 8-speed ZF automatic will surely remain the more preferred choice worldwide.