It started with a four-cylinder, graduated to six and then eight cylinders, and now might be settling back down to six. The next-generation F80 BMW M3, caught testing around the homeland, has let its voice be heard, and the suspicions are that a V6, not a BMW-traditional inline six, rumbles through those pipes.

Bimmerfile posits that a V6 could be "loosely based on the M5′s S63 twin-turbo V8, but with even greater high-end power and efficiency." Whatever is under that hood – and whatever is handling that lightning-quick gear change, don't quite sound like anything that's come straight from the factory before, at least to our ears. Follow the jump to watch and listen for yourself and make a guess in Comments.



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 58 Comments
      Danny
      • 3 Years Ago
      Sounds like a v6 to me..... I trust BMW to make a sweet car though:)
      tkosoccer03
      • 3 Years Ago
      so many experts here on engine noise... i bet if all of you watched this for the first time with your eyes closed, you would think it was a WRX.. while a V6 tends to produce a much smoother pitch, that doesn't necessarily guarantee this isn't a V6. inline motors typically sound a little more beefy, but that doesn't mean this isn't a V6. who knows?!? it's much easier, and even more credible, to make your argument based on the history of BMW, as opposed to the sound it makes...
      Justin Campanale
      • 3 Years Ago
      BMW, making a V6 is just plain wrong. Your i6 is much more smooth, refined, and fun than any V6 out there. If you actually bring a V6 M3 to production, regardless of how good it is, I will cross it off my list, due to the pure sacrilege
      Krishan Mistry
      • 3 Years Ago
      A turbo V6 actually would be nice, it would force BMW's M division to devise their own engine rather than nabbing an N54 (or similar turbo i6) from a lower model and fiddle with boost and ECU. I always love it when in house tuners devise their own specific engines with a different character entirely from the rest of the lineup. MB 6.2, BMW 4.0 V8, E46 I6, etc. Going and tweaking existing mills (easy with turbos)... why would anyone get a turbo I6 M3 when they could mod a 335i and be a few suspension bits away from being exactly the same? The 2012 M5 and 1M are amazing machines, but they both nab barely modified engines from other BMW's (M5=X5M V8, 1M=Z4sdrive35is I6) and you could tune a 550i and 135i engine to nearly exactly the same as their M bretherin. You cannot however, ever turn a 335i into an M3 E92, because its engine is unique and completely in house: an 8400rpm V8. If ///M must lose displacement and RPM from their engines in favour of boost, at least don't lose originality and motivation in the powerplant department.
        Krishan Mistry
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Krishan Mistry
        Of course an inline 6 is many times better than a plain jane V6, and if M makes a completely in house brand new I6, that would be absolutely amazing and the best of both worlds...originality and superior design.
      T. Bracelin
      • 3 Years Ago
      I don't think that exhaust sounds final. Maybe this is a suspension mule with an almost-done powertrain? Doesn't sound like a finished product quite yet but I don't make cars.
      snap_understeer_ftw
      • 3 Years Ago
      sounds like a V6 to me no I6 sounds like that and trust me, I've heard my share of BMW I6s racing (NASA, SCCA, pro series) and street there's no I6 rasp and it has the growl of a V6
      Chris L
      • 3 Years Ago
      sounds like a V6 to me, and holy hell that thing shifts fast!
      mike999
      • 3 Years Ago
      I6 is smoother and makes it easier to use a two (twin)-scroll turbo. A V configuration and two turbos is a waste of space. I would be interested to hear from the actual engineers why they are moving to a V6TT.
      Sik68
      • 3 Years Ago
      BMW: Where NA means not available, and M stands for Meh
      Noz
      • 3 Years Ago
      Who gives a sh&t....this stuff is getting so damned boring.
      jessicapaun
      • 3 Years Ago
      While I agree it sounds V-6ish, I'm certain it will be a twin-turbo I-6 displacing 3.5L and make approximately 450hp. Here is why: -The current output of 414hp needs to be exceeded by a comfortable margin. -While M3's and Mustang GT's are rarely cross-shopped, BMW can't have a 412hp pony-car nipping at their heels. 450hp would take care of that nicely. -A naturally aspirated V-8 is too thirsty for fuel. -BMW doesn't have a V-6, and if they did, they wouldn't introduce it through their flagship car. -A twin-turbo V-8 would compete to closely with the M5 powertrain. -A 3.0L twin-turbo I-6 is too similar to the 1M and N54 335's. -Even with turbocharging, 3.0 liters is not enough displacement to produce the power delivery and refinement BMW buyers expect. -Do the math on turbo BMW's and you'll see they range from 91.7hp / liter (550, 650, 750) to 128.4hp / liter (M5) -Divide the target figure of 450hp by the highest specific output engine (M5), 450/128.4=3.5L -You may recall BMW's first M series engine was a 3.5L I-6. Not suggesting they're going to ressurect a 30 year old motor, but the displacement figure will appeal to BMW's marketing department and M-snobs alike. You have to look at it from all angles. For a buyer to be willing to plunk down $60k they'll want uncompromised performance, exclusivity, refinement, and heritage. Conversely, the EPA is concerned about emissions and fuel economy. A 3.5L twin-turbo I-6 satisfies all of those requirements.
        Kevlar
        • 3 Years Ago
        @jessicapaun
        I agree with many of your points, but here's why I think it will be a V6: For the E90/92 M3, BMW took the E60 M5's S85B50 engine (5-liter V10), and essentially lopped two cylinders off of the design, yielding the S65B40. Now, take the F10 M5's S63tu (4.4-liter V8), drop two cylinders off of the design, and you end up with a 3.3-liter V6. Conversely, I find it highly unlikely that the engine architecture of the N54 would allow the bore/stroke to be increased enough to achieve 3.3 liters, and I think we're all in agreement that you definitely need a shade more than 3.0 liters to achieve the kind of power that the next-gen M3 needs. It's fair to assume that the development resources (and thus, cost) required to design and produce a V6 based on a current V8 engine would be significantly less than that required to design a new I-6 from the ground-up. As far as the displacement, I think the new engine will likely have a slightly higher specific output than the S63tu (smaller engines are inherently more efficient, and we see the same with the S85/S65 scenario). If the final output was, say, 444 HP (same as the E92 M3 GTS), a 3.3 liter would require a specific output of 134.5 HP/liter. While that is high, it's not very far above that of the F10 M5, and well within the abilities of BMW/a production engine on pump-gas. Heck, the 2012 Buick Regal GS has almost that very same specific output. While I love the idea of a 3.5L I-6 a-la the original E24 M5, I think a V6 is more in-line (har-har) with BMW's current corporate and design strategies (obvious tie between the M3 and it's big-brother M5, reverse-flow heads with turbos mounted in the V of the engine, etc). I fear the number of current M3 buyers who actually care about the 'heritage' of the M-line may be depressingly low, and they're probably more interested in having a 'mini-M5' than a car with a story behind its engine.
          jcrout7992
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Kevlar
          There we go. We now have some intelligent discussion on this engine. While the V6 certainly makes sense from an engineering and accounting perspective, it also degrades the exclusivity of the M3. I'd have a hard time justifying the price premium of an M3 with a V6. The M3 should stand on its own and not rely on a V6 hand-me-down........................unless it's a screamer and has the same potential for tuning as the N54. That last sentence is me preparing myself for dissapointment.
          snap_understeer_ftw
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Kevlar
          you sound like you know what you're talking about are you the Kevlar from bimmerforums?
      Lachmund
      • 3 Years Ago
      it'a turbo v6, we already know that.
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