The next-generation BMW M3 probably holds the unofficial title for the most photographed and filmed future model considering we’ve shared a plethora of content with test vehicles of what enthusiasts refer to as the G80. We admit the adjacent footage from Allcarnews shot in the United States is certainly not the best spy video out there, but the silver lining is we (briefly) get to hear the growl of the inline-six engine codenamed S58.
It appears to be a German-spec car judging by the green emissions sticker on the bottom-left corner of the windscreen, so it’s a bit surprising to see BMW testing it at night in California. The M3’s test driver was nice enough to floor it for a few seconds and let the turbocharged 3.0-litre engine sing its tune, an engine that will be available in many configurations.
Gallery: 2021 BMW M3 spy photos
That’s because BMW has stated it will sell the new high-performance saloon with a choice between rear- and all-wheel drive, along with the possibility to pick from either a manual or an automatic transmission. The only setup you won’t be able to order will be an xDrive-equipped model with a three-pedal setup as the all-paw version will come exclusively with the auto.
It’s quite easy to estimate how much power the new M3 will offer as we’re expecting the newest Bavarian athlete to pack around 473 bhp in standard form and about 503 bhp in Competition guise to mirror the X3 and X4 M models. It’s worth mentioning the engine probably makes more power than what BMW claims considering an X3 M Competition was recently put on a dyno and it produced 491 bhp at the wheels, so roughly 540 bhp at the crankshaft.
Needless to say, the M3 will be lighter than the X3 M and that will translate into better performance. The speedy SUV in Competition flavour does 0 to 60 mph (96 km/h) in four seconds, so look for the saloon to drop below the four-second mark en route to a top speed of at least the X3 M Competition’s 177 mph (285 km/h).
The official reveal is slated to take place later this year when we’ll finally get to see how the XXL kidney grille looks like in production guise.