With new Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards looming on the horizon, automakers are in the process of developing engines that strike a balance between ultra-efficiency and high-performance. Aware of the challenges ahead, BMW has begun development of the next generation 3 Series and 1 Series, both due for a redesign in 2013, and according to Ludwig Willisch, BMW's M division CEO, new turbocharged engines are on the horizon for the next M3 and 1 Series M (not, we repeat not, to be dubbed the M1).
A turbo'd six-cylinder will likely replace the 4.0-liter V8 currently fitted to the M3, although BMW hasn't decided if it will use a straight-six or a V6 powerplant. Willisch told Motor Trend that the new engine won't be based on the current 3.0-liter inline six currently employed on the 335i and 135i, and it's still too early in the development process to say which configuration will be used. BMW recognizes the inline-six's light weight is a plus, but packaging constraints may required the use of a V6. Either way, the next M3 will be wider, but Willisch insists, "Engines don't need to be more powerful for the next car. As long as you have lighter weight, you have better performance." Although the idea of a V6-powered Bimmer will surely send the marque's faithful into bouts of rage, weight reduction is the future, and to us, it's music to our ears.
As for the 1 series, there won't be an M version per se, but BMW's in-house tuning division wants to recapture the magic of the original E30 M3 by developing a smaller, lighter coupe to slot in below the next M3. As reported previously, a twin-turbocharged four-cylinder will likely power the new coupe, and according to Willisch, the automaker is aiming for something that puts out around 300 hp and weighs around 2,860 pounds (think RWD VW GTI).
Traditionally, the M variants arrive about a year after the new models are introduced, so expect the next M3 and 1 Series M to debut sometime in 2014.
[Source: Motor Trend]