The cylinder count in BMW's M3 has fluctuated over the years. The original M3 debuted in 1985 packing a 2.3-liter inline-four, but subsequent models went with sixes until the outgoing generation upped the cylinder count to eight. With its latest model, BMW has dropped back to six cylinders with a pair of turbos taking the place of the extra pistons. But the next M3 sedan and M4 coupe could go back to the model line's roots with a four-cylinder engine.

Speaking with BMW M product manager Carsten Pries at the launch of the latest M3 and M4 in Portugal, our Aussie compatriots at Motoring.com.au report that "you could see a future [M3] powered by a four-cylinder engine." Offsetting the reduction in cylinders, the lighter engine would benefit the vehicle's weight and balance, thus enhancing performance.

We wouldn't expect the next M3 and M4 to lose any power in the process, though: Output in the M3 has only risen over the generations, from 192 horsepower in the four-pot original to 282 hp in the six-cylinder E36, 338 hp in the six-cylinder E46, 414 hp in the V8 E90 and 425 ponies in the new turbocharged six-cylinder F80 model. With that latter model having just debuted, it'll likely be a good six or seven years before the next version comes along, giving BMW plenty of time to settle on an engine – however many cylinders and turbochargers it has. In the meantime, you'll have to forgive us for taking a romp down M3 memory lane in the fresh gallery of images above.


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  • 39 Comments
      Rob
      • 7 Months Ago
      I guess that means the M1 and M2 will be three cylinder engines
        ForcedInduction90012
        • 7 Months Ago
        @Rob
        If it's the 1.5L from the i8/MINI F56 it wouldn't be bad. However, they desperately need to get the same engine tuners back that did the N18 engine. The B38 and B48 engines have a lot less pull from pretty much all revs, eventhough it's numbers are higher. It could be a success with around 275HP, and an exhaust that is free flowing like they used to use.
      Matt
      • 7 Months Ago
      One less way to get an inline 6, that's depressing.
        JJ
        • 7 Months Ago
        @Matt
        Not necessarily true, it might mean that we'll get an straight six in the next M5.
      PTC DAWG
      • 7 Months Ago
      Nice clean lines on that originsl M3...,
      Nine Elements
      • 7 Months Ago
      I can see half the cylinders (from the V8 down to an inline-4) working for such an M3 if the rest of the offer included half of the current curb weight, and half of the current price.
        ForcedInduction90012
        • 7 Months Ago
        @Nine Elements
        You know how BMW's philosophy recently has been: pay more for less. A lot more for a lot less.
      Max Deranged Max
      • 7 Months Ago
      Make a reboot of the E30 M3 plz.
      mdcwave
      • 7 Months Ago
      If they're thinking of even less cylinders than before, it had better go like stink!
      Teleny411
      • 7 Months Ago
      The e30 please.
      Bernard
      • 7 Months Ago
      Wow, and $80k 4 cylinder M3. Ultimate Driving Machine my butt! I think I'll stick to CTS-V's and ATS-V's thanks.
      Johnny Trailerpark
      • 7 Months Ago
      THANKS OBAMA.
        Kuro Houou
        • 7 Months Ago
        @Johnny Trailerpark
        I know right, thank you! Same or better power, lighter weight, better mpg, good times all around for car enthusiasts!
      AGSHOP
      • 7 Months Ago
      dammmm! each gen is getting better and better!!! lighter more power better on gas and way faster around a corner!!!!
        ForcedInduction90012
        • 7 Months Ago
        @AGSHOP
        What planet are you living on? Just about every generation of BMW's has gotten heavier. The steering is terrible, as is the person they have in charge of product development. The suspensions are either jarringly firm, or they are softer than a Camry's. They've lost the suspension tuning that was BMW for so long - a perfect balance of handling and comfort, leaning more towards performance.
      550PlusX5
      • 7 Months Ago
      In other news BMW, is considering going with the FWD platform for the next M3/M4, which will be sold under the name M300/M400 xdrive gran coupe 50fwd
      RGT881
      • 7 Months Ago
      The current M3/M4 sound so awful that I don't even care about their performance. No drama at all.
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