Since a handful of sneak previews were released, speculation has been flying around the web about the new BMW M3. Despite the fact that it’s not due to be officially unveiled until later this year, and sold to the public from 2014, early photos and other details leaked by insiders still drop some major hints about what we can expect from the next iteration of one of BMW’s most iconic cars.

M3

BMW first announced the M3 in 1985, and since then it has seen no fewer than four incarnations. The first was a 2.3-litre four-cylinder engine, delivering 200 horsepower; the most recent a 4-litre V8 delivering an impressive 420 hp. The challenge for BMW is to build on that legacy, whilst maintaining their track record for a great-looking, comfortable and high-performance car.

Early indications are that they have more than acquitted themselves, combining a series of smart tricks and modifications to produce a lighter, faster and more powerful car with the same eye for luxury inside.

Under the bonnet

Whilst the current M3 uses a four-litre V8, the new one has a three-litre straight six with twin turbochargers. (Early reports were that the 2014 iteration would have a third turbo, powered by electricity to reduce lag and further increase efficiency, though sadly that now looks like it’s probably hype – this time around, anyway.) Despite its inline six and smaller engine, word is that it will deliver up to 450 horsepower.

Unlike the electrical steering of its predecessor, this M3 will revert to hydraulic steering – customers prefer it and so that’s what they got, along with regular tyres instead of run-flats. A six-speed manual paddle shift will be offered as well as seven-speed dual clutch, which will also please fans.

Lighter, faster, sleeker

BMW has found a few ways to slim down its new M3 to make even more of the extra power. They’ve shed over 200 lbs by making more extensive use of carbon fibre and composites. The result is to shave the car’s 0-100 kph (0-62 mph) time down by three-tenths of a second to 4.3 seconds – possibly faster, since ‘official’ figures tend to be a little on the conservative side – and give it a top speed of 180 mph, though this is usually limited electronically to 155 mph. To help you handle the extra speed, the new M3 has a limited-slip differential, as well as the hydraulic power steering.

All that extra speed and power warrants a bit of a redesign, too. BMW have beefed up the bodywork a bit, giving the new M3 a more muscular feel without overcooking it. Front air intakes are flared, the alloy wheels are a little larger, and a quad exhaust shows it means business. Inside you’ll find heavily-padded sports seats and a motorsport-feel steering wheel.

The bottom line?

The power boost and lighter weight predictably end up heavier on the wallet, and the new M3 is slated to start at £55,000.

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