The G20 3 Series is bound to arrive this year. It will replace the popular F30 model line-up and it will have some pretty big shoes to fill, as the 3er has traditionally been BMW’s bread and butter and the undisputed king of its segment. With everyone out for SUVs and crossovers these days, the 3 Series might lose some of its relevance along the way but it is still one of the most important models BMW makes. The most interesting 3er will be the new M340i though, pictured in the footage below.

I’m saying that because it will be the only model in the range fitted with a straight six petrol engine. Our sources also talk about a possible M340d in the works as well but we all know that even though the diesel six-cylinder is also smooth and appealing, everyone will be clamoring for the petrol-fed unit. In the footage below we get to see the M340i laying down some rubber on the Nurburgring, in what seems to be the most advanced prototype we’ve seen out testing yet.

We can definitely say that some of the prototypes in the footage below are near production ready and we can even make out some design features. From the looks of things, the 3 Series will borrow some styling cues from its bigger brother, the 8 Series, especially in the rear, where new air channels are now noticeable, at least on M Sport models such as the one seen here. Up front, the nose seems a bit more complicated than before, with more creases than before. The headlamps are connected to the grille and there seems to be a dent in between the two light beams which could possibly be the washer nozzle housing. The grilles definitely grew in size while the air intakes on the sides are not featuring a slit on each side.

As for what hides under the hood, the M340i will be using a new iteration of the B58 3-liter straight six engine which will also be the most powerful to date. Our sources talk about over 380 HP and, the best bit of news is that, in the US it will be available in both xDrive and RWD guises. That’s a first for M Performance models which are traditionally only offered in all-wheel drive guise. Other engine choices include the usual 2-liter diesel mills which will be quite popular in Europe as well as the new 330e which will have the same 250 HP and more range. All new 3 Series G20 models will be mild hybrids, using 48V electrical systems.

Inside the cabin you can expect a big improvement in order to keep up with the competition. Ambient lighting, a new design similar to what we’ve seen on the 8 Series and the same instrument cluster will make the 3 Series a bold proposition from BMW. The cars will also get laser lights as an option with LED headlamps being the standard offering. Another big thing will be the enhanced autonomous driving systems which will be class leading while for those who prefer to drive themselves, a special diff (LSD) will be offered as an optional feature. The market launch should happen this autumn as the F30 is going out of production in October and the G20 starts in November.