The next BMW M4 has been spied undergoing testing before its public reveal some time in 2020. This is the first time we’ve seen the new M4, be it in coupe or cabriolet form, but we do know that it will share much of its powertrain and chassis with the next four-door M3, which we should also see in 2020.
First thing’s first, the new M4 will feature the new S58 3-litre straight-six petrol engine found in the larger X3 M. Although the engine is bespoke to this new generation of M-car, it does share much of its foundations with the B58 power unit found in other BMW models, not to mention the new Toyota Supra and even the Morgan Plus Six. In the X3 M, power is rated at 503bhp in Competition form, a figure we suspect will be retained in the next M4.
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That power is expected to be sent to all four wheels via an automatic transmission. Like the M5 and M8 that sit above it, the M4 is expected to include the same all-wheel-drive system which is able to decouple the front axle, returning it to rear-wheel drive for purists, but otherwise usefully improving traction and drivability in most other driving situations.
In the Cabriolet form we see here, it’s clear that the previous-generation M4’s folding hard-top will give way to a lighter, more flexible soft-top arrangement that will drop below an opening tonneau behind the rear seats. The M4’s body-in-white will likely be the same as standard 4-series models, but should pick up a wider front axle and new front quarter panels, as is becoming the BMW M-car norm.
If this all sounds very big, complex and heavy for what once started out as the E30 M3, it’s a sentiment we also share. To counter this, BMW is rumoured to be working on a lighter, purer version of the M3 and M4, one that removes the all-wheel-drive system, automatic transmission and other luxury car items. Whether BMW will deliver on this remains to be seen, but we can at least relax in the knowledge that there is an M4 in development at all.