BMW has been fitting its M3 cars with inline-six and V-8 engines exclusively for about 22 years now, but that might change in the future, as the Germans are considering a four-cylinder unit for its high-performance sedan .
Speaking to Motoring at the launch of the brand-new M3 and M4 in Portugal, BMW M chief of product management Carsten Pries said we "could see a future M3 powered by a four-cylinder engine" if the company rolls out "a car with less mass."
Although Pries refrained from giving away more details, such a move is likely to take place when the next-generation M3 and M4 arrive. That’s at least six years from now and it means there’s plenty of time for a new four-pot to be developed or for a wholly different strategy to spawn out of Munich.
But if the first scenario comes to fruition, it will be somewhat similar to what BMW did with the all-new M3 and M4. It will reduce the weight of the car and add a smaller unit that will deliver performance figures close to those churned by the current inline-six, but with improved fuel economy.
“Performance can be boosted with more power, but if we are to address issues like emissions and consumption [in the future], we have to look more at weight. We decided in this generation to address the [upward] weight spiral,” Pries added.
Of course, squeezing more than 400 horsepower out of a four-cylinder will give BMW engineers some pains, but the target isn’t impossible to achieve. With Mercedes-Benz and AMG having already managed to get 360 horsepower out of the A45 AMG , it’s hard to believe the Munich crew won’t be able to take it up a notch.
Click past the jump to read more about the BMW M3.