Pictured: 2020 BMW 330i
Photo: Justin Westbrook (Jalopnik)

Having established that the new BMW 3 Series is already a satisfying driver’s car in just about every trim available, it’s great to hear reports that the upcoming BMW M3 will be an enthusiast’s dream, with a “pure” model with over 450 horsepower, rear-wheel drive and a goddamn manual.

When we realized that the new 330i and M340i would not be given the gift of a manual transmission, we were sad. Having the option of a stick in a non-M3 3 Series is what set the last generation car apart from most of the other compact luxury segment. And now it’s gone. The good news now is maybe the new M3 won’t disappoint us.

The tantalizing tease comes from the latest report from Car Magazine, which claims the next M3 will be available either in a real rear-wheel drive layout, or with a rear-biased all-wheel drive xDrive system similar to what’s on the new BMW M5.

Here’s more, from Car Mag:

The extra power was a given. What was less clear was how many wheels the new M3 would put it through. The answer: either two or four. Base versions of the new M3 will be purely rear-wheel drive, while pricier M xDrive all-wheel-drive variants will include the same 2wd toggle mode as the M5.

More enticingly, BMW is planning entry-level M3 and M4 variants, sold as reduced-to-the-max drivers’ cars. The internal nickname is M3 and M4 Pure, which sums up their role as no-frills, back-to-the-roots extensions of the range. They’ll have a little less power than the plusher models, 454bhp rather than 474bhp, but they’ll be the only M3/M4 variants without the otherwise standard eight-speed automatic transmission, and M xDrive system will be off limits too.

Instead the Pure versions (production name still tbc) will use a six-speed manual transmission, and their rear-wheel-drive layout will be complemented by a quicker-acting electronically controlled diff lock.

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So, if this is accurate, we could essentially be getting two new BMW M3s (and two new M4s) that would look something like this:

  • 474 hp 3.0-liter twin-turbo inline six with rear-biased xDrive and an 8-speed automatic
  • 454 hp 3.0-liter twin-turbo inline six with rear-wheel drive and a 6-speed manual

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Having driven the new M340i with the rear-biased xDrive last month, I can say that car is a hell of time with just its 382 hp. The trick AWD system can still get very much sideways if you push the right buttons. I can’t imaging what another heap of nearly 100 hp will do to it, and I can’t wait to find out if this report ends up being accurate.

Car Magazine also claims the next M4 will get a soft-top convertible option instead of the current hard-top, and eventually be offered as M4 Competition (Car Mag claims around 2021), CS, and CSL packages. There may also eventually be an M4 Gran Coupe model, too.

We’re reportedly going to have all of this confirmed at the Frankfurt Motor Show this September, so don’t hold your breath.