It's only a matter of time before the new, more powerful BMW M3 arrives. Prototypes pictured on the Nurburgring and public roads – some showing more sheet metal than others – have us anticipating the M car's arrival. But while the new M3 will undoubtedly be an upgrade over its predecessor, we never guessed it might have as much power as what's being reported.

Speaking with Top Gear at the Frankfurt Motor Show, BMW M Division boss Markus Flasch confirmed the upcoming M3 will have a straight-six engine, a slick six-speed manual gearbox (two things we already knew), and potentially more than the 510 bhp previously reported. That would make it, by a long shot, the most-powerful M3 ever built. 

"This S58 engine will of course be the base for M3 and M4," he said. "It's our strongest ever straight-six and it's already capable of 510 horsepower as basic, but it has not reached its fullest potential yet."

In the X3 M and X4 M Competition, that S58 engine produces 503 bhp. Both of those SUVs can sprint to 60 miles per hour in four seconds flat, and on to a top speed of 177 miles per hour with the M Driver's Package equipped. With more power and less weight, could the new M3 hit 60 in under three seconds and/or a top speed of 200 mph? We won't know that until BMW finalises all the details.

Gallery: 2020 BMW M3 renderings

For now, buyers interested in an exciting 3 Series must make do with the current most-powerful option: the M340i. With a 3.0-litre inline-six under the bonnet, that car produces 382 bhp, power sent to all four wheels via xDrive. It takes that car a decent-enough 4.2 seconds to hit 60.