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.
Why It Matters
BMW is not the only automaker pondering downsizing, so it’s just another sign that the whole industry is preparing for the more demanding emissions regulations that are looming in. While the four-cylinder M3 remains in hearsay territory for the time being, we cannot skip past the fact that the V-8-powered M3 is as extinct as the tyrannosaurus rex.
Redesigned for 2014, the fifth-generation M3 marked the beginning of a new era for the sporty sedan, which lost its naturally-aspirated V-8 engine. Used since 2007 on all iteration of the M3, the 4.0-liter unit was retired to make room for a more efficient inline-six. But despite having less cylinders, the 3.0-liter mill doesn’t lack the power required by a such a car, generating 425 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque with help from a pair of turbochargers.