BMW isn’t being shy about the fact that it’s testing an electric M3. BMW’s currently using an i4 test mule with a widened wheel track, flared fenders, and four electric motors to test the powertrain for the upcoming BMW M3. While BMW already teased it, with a video of it doing tank turns, there are some new spy photos that show off the test mule up close. (We don’t own the spy photos but they can be seen here). Unfortunately, the photos themselves aren’t too exciting, as they just show the test mule on the back of a flatbed. So no fun tank turns or hooliganism here. However, it does show off some interesting aspects of its design that are worth looking at.

Using an i4 as a Test Bed for Future BMW M Cars

The most noticeable part of the car is its width. Being an M car, the wheel track is massively wider than the normal BMW i4, so it needs big fender flares. Interestingly, BMW seems to have taken the time to flare them nicely for a test mule. It looks like BMW may have been able to borrow the fenders from the M3, given the similarities between the M3 and i4. The little fake “Air Breather” on the front fenders looks plucked right from the M3 and the way the rear fender flare meets the rear doors looks similar, too. Perhaps because BMW is going to use this car for promotional purposes, it actually put some effort into making it look production-ready.

Up front, BMW also gave this car the same grille as the M4 CSL. Being electric, it really doesn’t need much of a front grille but that’s probably just for promotional purposes, as to show off its M Division nature. Also, it does have quad motors and will need some battery cooling, so a little airflow can’t hurt.

This test mule also proves how wrong BMW was to not make a proper M4 Gran Coupe or i4 M because it looks fantastic. Flared wheel arches look incredible on that gran coupe body style, so much so that I actually forgot about its gaping grille.

Quad-Motors with Tons of Power

Because this quad-motor powertrain is unprecedented at BMW, we have no frame of reference for power. However, we can make an educated guess and we’re thinking that 650-690 horsepower will be likely. The next-gen M3 won’t debut until around 2027 and it’s going to need to make more power than the M4 CSL (543 horsepower) but it has to stay shy of the future all-electric M5, which will make over 700 horsepower. Plus, BMW will have to contend with the new Mercedes-AMG C63 S, which uses a hybrid setup to make 671 horsepower. So somewhere between 650-690 seems like a realistic number, with future ‘Competition’ or ‘CS’ models making more.

This is just a test mule for now, and nothing real will come of it for several years, but it’s proof BMW is working on something exciting. Electric power might not be exciting for old-school enthusiasts but there’s no engine in the world that can respond as sharply to throttle inputs as an electric motor and BMW M will be able to perfectly tune the throttle to make putting power down as precise as possible. An electric BMW M3 will be awesome and I can’t wait until 2027.

[Source: Autocar]