Essentially, the next generation of the two-door M3 models are expected to migrate to the M4 name, while the M3 sedan’s name won’t change. In line with the new naming practice, we’ll see the next 3-Series coupe and convertible adopt a 4-Series name. The reason behind the move is part of BMW’s plans to further differentiate its sedan and coupe models.
But whatever name you use for the latest M model, it's likely to be just as notorious for being a capable track weapon as previous versions. Like the upcoming M3 sedan, the M4 is expected to drop the 4.0-liter V-8 of the outgoing M3 in favor of a turbocharged straight-six engine.
Unconfirmed reports have pegged output of the new M six-cylinder at about 450 horsepower, courtesy of 3.3 liters of displacement and two--or possibly three--turbochargers.
Looking at this latest spy video of an M4 coupe, we see just about what we'd expect, given the looks of the latest 3-Series sedan: a development of the current body shape, rather than a wholesale redesign. The hood, front bumper, and rear tail lights are heavily masked, revealing little of final detailing, but the overall proportions are sporty, sleek, and modern.
The lowered suspension, huge wheels and brakes, plus the quad exhaust tips all say this is a performance version of the car , but aside from these few details, little else is clear.
2014 BMW M4 spy shotsEnlarge Photo
Like the latest 3-Series sedan, with which it will share a platform, we expect a good deal of lightening through more advanced materials, improved interior comfort and design, and--thankfully--improved gas mileage over the sweet-sounding, high-revving, but very thirsty V-8 of the outgoing M3.
To enhance traction, the new M4 is thought to also receive an electronically controlled differential capable of delivering 100-percent lockup under the right conditions. Since the differential is electronically controlled, it should also be capable of torque vectoring to ensure maximum traction when powering out of corners. A wider track than the current M3 is also expected.
We'll keep you posted with further details, images, and videos as the car continues development and testing. Look for the debut of the new BMW M4 sometime in late 2013, after the launch of the standard 4-Series.