By on August 14, 2015


TheDetroitBureau’s Paul Eisenstein has a fine piece of reporting that the next-generation of BMW’s iconic M3 will have a hybrid, plug-in powertrain — a first for the performance sub-brand. Eisenstein says internal sources provided the information.

According to the report, the rear wheels would be driven by the gasoline engine, which could be the M3’s current boosted six — or even perhaps an ultra-potent four. Up front, one or two electric motors could power the forward wheels. Eisenstein’s story points out that by using tandem electric motors, the M3 would have baked-in torque vectoring that engineers could exploit for handling performance.

If the report is true, that E36 M3 you passed up on Craigslist eight years ago will soon be worth eleventy billion dollars.A plug-in hybrid M3 would be a seismic shift for the German automaker.

Already, supercar makers such as McLaren and Ferrari have used similar technology for cars that cost more than $1 million, and BMW’s system could use a kinetic energy recovery system, although it’s unclear in the report how it would be used.

Porsche’s Panamera S E-Hybrid already uses a plug-in hybrid powertrain, although that car is in a much different segment than the M3.

The report says engineers initially balked at the additional weight a plug-in powertrain would add, but lightweight materials such as carbon fiber and aluminum found in the i8 could help offset those losses.

A plug-in hybrid could also make the future for BMW’s sub-brand “i” less clear. A few days ago, BMW CEO Harald Kruger said the “i” brand could have more cars in its lineup, but it’s clear that some of the technologies such as electrification and lightweight materials appear to be bleeding into the mainstream lineup.

And a plug-in hybrid system seriously casts a shadow of the future of manuals for BMW’s M division.

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39 Comments on “Report: Next-gen BMW M3 Will Be All-Wheel Drive Plug-in Hybrid...”

  • avatar

    It won’t be long before the E60 M5 will be considered an example of a “simple” performance car.

  • avatar

    Getting the popcorn.

    Can’t wait to see the BMW faithful trying to justify this as genius and a good thing for a performance vehicle. Plug ins and batteries and added weight – oh my!

    • 0 avatar

      Long-time Bimmer fan here (dating back to my childhood in the early 70s growing up in Germany)…and I got nothing. I’m sure there are folks here that can sell the hybrid as being “all that” for performance, but a small piece of me just died when I read this. Maybe I will bite the built and order that manual 320i before this is all over and roll it out of my garage in about 25 years and show my grandkids what a manual transmission actually looked like “back in the day.”

      • 0 avatar

        Too late, BMW NA no longer offers the 320i with the manual transmission (dropped at the same time as they dropped the manual in the non-M 5-series). You can still get the 328i and 335i with the 6-speed though.

    • 0 avatar

      Former E36 M3 owner here. I want to barf.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    I would think E46. Which one had the lightweight package?

    • 0 avatar

      You are probably thinking of the CSL, which was an E46 but never made it to the U.S. SMG only in that one because racecar.

      I thought we all agreed that the E36 M3 was never going to be a classic because it just had a beefed up 328i engine instead of a true M engine? I’m beginning to think that I shouldn’t sell my low mileage E46 6MT coupe after all.

      At some point, the M and i models are going to converge, and the enthusiast forms are going to lose their collective and under utilized minds.

    • 0 avatar


  • avatar

    Another game of Mad Libs, let’s take the [M3] give it [AWD] and its power plant will be [a plug in hybrid powertrain]

  • avatar

    And it only took him fifteen minutes to ask the question that got him this answer!

    …I’ll see myself out.

  • avatar

    I think this is just part of the constant one-up-manship that seems to play heavily in his segment. More and more hp with every generation, leapfrog on ring times, etc. This is way for BMW to throw off the competition for one generation of the M3, doubt rival are planning a similar tact.

  • avatar

    Internal sources say next gen Toyota highlander will be a golf cart

  • avatar
    Car Ramrod

    Eww. Maintenance to keep my old M car on the road suddenly seems like even more of a bargain. This story makes me want to buy a commuter beater so the old girl can last forever.

  • avatar

    BMW (VAG, GM, etc.) does not care about enthusiasts.

    Enthusiasts (for the most part) don’t buy new cars.

    TTAC covered this just the other day I believe.

  • avatar

    As an owner of a E92 M3, the current M3/4 holds no interest for me. I’m making do with an STI, and waiting for the merging of the i8 tech with the M3 -this may be it. Exciting news for all but the usual TTAC haters.

  • avatar

    The future is not looking too bright for used car buyers. I PITY THE FOO who buys one of these out of warranty. BMW Techs probably already need computer science degrees…. now they will just have the engineers who designed the cars come out and troubleshoot.

    Thankfully, I think, cars built in the last…. 25 years? Wow, I am getting old…. can be robust enough to keep rolling for a 50 or so year life. And up through the mid to late 00s many had simple enough electronics that those should not take the car down. All this makes me want to buy a spare engine block or two, make some choice chassis reinforcement mods, throw a turbo + LSD onto my lil SOHC Civic and drive it till the wheels fall off. My $/mile and $/performance ratios will drop to zero, along with headaches. The auto industry is moving to a churn n burn business model and I really don’t like it.

  • avatar

    Will it be offered with a manual?

  • avatar

    Now maybe some of you can see the value of a nice simple 2002

  • avatar

    If its a half-price i8 then I’m all for it.

  • avatar

    This is great.

    Now, when can I buy a range extended electric muscle car? I’m not even joking. Tesla-esq electric performance, electric efficiency and a range extender. That’s what I want. Heavens knows the Challenger is already big enough for multiple powertrains.

  • avatar

    According to someone or other whose name shall be kept a secret, BMW is going to go ethanol/water injection on the M3/M4 engine first for maximum take off power with an extra dose of torque. Shades of the 1961 Oldsmobile F-85 Jetaway turbo 215 cu in V8.

    That’ll keep the back of the intake valves all bright and shiny. Debuting at the Monterey Concours upper-class twitfest in M4GTS form. I hope they manage to wet-sand the superb BMW orange peel paint first or the toffs will not be impressed, no matter how good the engine is.

  • avatar

    Well…count me out. I’m not going rail on about brand dilution, longevity issues or driver car interface. I’m simply not going to buy one or recommend one.

    M’s are usually difficult or expensive to own, I can accept that part of the equation. The problem is that bmw will lose the outright tech race. Leaning on electrification for their core performance model simply means better funded big volume brands will be able to swoop in on them with newer batteries and stronger motors at a rate that bmw’s refreshes won’t be able to cope with. The m3, unlike the i’s doesn’t have the styling and rarity to overcome that. Feel and performance are all this model has to recommend it in its best years.

  • avatar

    So it’s going to be a Volvo XC90?

  • avatar

    Excellent that one of my favorite cars will now be fuel-efficient as well…

  • avatar

    Its all down hill from here. BMW is loosing it. Might as well buy a good used manual trans BMW and keep it running as long as you can. Just forget about buying a new BMW. Hey, maybe BMW can make a prius with a weenie “shifter” like the Dodge Ram Rebel.

  • avatar

    I realize that you are just going to have to trust me on this one…but I think a few hard pulls in an i8 will quickly change your mind. If you know how to start a vacuum cleaner than you can go from 0-60 in 4.5 seconds.

    Yes, the noise is haunting, the slingshot forces are unnerving; this all leading to a wholly unnatural experience. But denigrating a new and truly awesome concept isn’t needed. There will always be a piston option from somewhere.

    And for those touting reliability concerns…the reliability of current motors when the environmental conditions can be tightly controlled is pretty impressive. Yes, there will be expensive black boxes that BMW will stuff with indirect R&D overhead but I expect that to be the exception rather than the rule.

    • 0 avatar

      “There will always be a piston option from somewhere.”

      I don’t think you can say that with any certainty. Look at the regulation coming out of California these days.

    • 0 avatar

      You said it, “start a vacuum cleaner.” Its all about becoming an appliance. Driving enjoyment is not all about speed. 4.5 seconds sounds good, but it’s completely devoid of character. That’s where BMW is going off the rails. They are supposed to produce “the ultimate driving machine,” and they are gradually producing more and more vehicles that are not really enjoyable to “drive.” Automatic start, lane keeping, adaptive cruise control, launch control, perfect shifts down to a tenth of a second, and now, in the planned BMW prius, perfectly applied acceleration every single time without shifting. Why drive at all? You’ll just screw it all up while you are trying to “enjoy the drive.” Let the computer whisk you off in 4.5 seconds, perfectly, every single time!
      Enjoy your speedy BMW i8 prius! I’ll keep driving my manual trans!

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