The long-awaited M version of the latest generation ‘F30’ BMW 3-Series is on track for a debut at January's 2014 Detroit Auto Show, and these latest shots show the most complete prototype we’ve seen yet. Since the reveal of the M4 concept car at the recent Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, BMW engineers have become a bit more relaxed about the camouflage gear their using for prototypes for both the M4 and the M3 you see here.

In case you're not completely up to date, the M3 will only be available in sedan form this time around. The outgoing M3 Coupe will be replaced by a new M4, and further down the track we'll also see an M4 Convertible and possibly an M4 Gran Coupe, the latter based on a new 4-Series Gran Coupe also in the works.

This latest prototype of the M3 is sporting the car’s signature power bulge on the hood, while the familiar BMW ring-shaped headlights can be clearly seen as they are now unmasked. We also see the new lower intake design complete with air curtains, which was previewed on the M4 concept car.

Look for BMW to trim weight wherever possible, too--word is that the next M3 could come in below 3,300 pounds, which is more than 200 pounds lighter than a current 335i sedan. Elements from the M4 concept we also expect to see on the M3 are a carbon fiber roof, carbon fiber exhaust tips, carbon ceramic brakes (perhaps as an option) and 20-inch light alloy wheels.

BMW Concept M4 Coupe live photos, Pebble Beach, 2013

BMW Concept M4 Coupe live photos, Pebble Beach, 2013

BMW is yet to confirm what its new M3 and M4 models will pack, but VIN information uncovered on the web indicates the cars will get their power from a 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine coded the S55. That makes it sound very much like a high-performance derivative of the N55, BMW's twin-scroll turbo engine used in the 335i among others. Power estimates for the M Division version range around the 450-horsepower mark

Rear-wheel drive will remain standard, but with a trick torque vectoring system distributing forces to either side of the rear axle as needed. A similar unit is fitted to the latest BMW M5. A six-speed manual should remain the standard option, though there are rumblings the manual may be dropped altogether. The alternative is going exclusively with a seven-speed M-DCT dual-clutch transmission.

While you wait for the new M3's arrival, hit this link to watch a video of a prototype hard at work at the legendary Nürburgring race track. Sales of the car should start early next year, making it a 2014 model.


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