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New BMW M3 2021 detailed: Rear-wheel drive and manual to officially live on - as options


BMW has officially let the cat out of the bag, confirming the new-generation M3 mid-size sedan will be available with rear-wheel drive and a manual transmission, although buyers will have other options.

In a teaser video released on YouTube, BMW showed a camouflaged prototype of the new M3 completing testing at the Nurburgring, giving very little away in the process ahead of its official reveal, which is expected to take place later this year.

That said, BMW M head of driving dynamics systems Christian Flessa did give several details away during the teaser video, including public confirmation of the new M3’s rear- and all-wheel-drive options, with the latter being the M5 large sedan’s M xDrive system.

Not only does this set-up have a rear bias, but it also has a ‘drift mode’ that effectively disconnects the front axle for a completely different dynamic experience… when on track.

A brief footnote also confirmed the new M3’s fuel consumption on the combined-cycle test as 10.5 litres per 100 kilometres, while its carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are 239 grams per kilometre.

It’s worth noting, though, those claims only apply to examples fitted rear-wheel drive and an eight-speed torque-converter automatic transmission.

Confirmation of this pairing goes against previous comments made by BMW M CEO Markus Flasch, who suggested the combination was unlikely as buyers interested in the traditional drivetrain would want it with the manual, which will also be available.

All-wheel-drive examples of the new M3 will only be available with the automatic, with Mr Flasch telling Road & Track last November a manual option was technically possible but would have weak demand.

As reported, the M3 will be powered by BMW M’s new S58 3.0-litre twin-turbo inline six-cylinder petrol engine. While its outputs are yet to be confirmed, the X3 M and X4 M SUVs currently use it and punch out up to 375kW/600Nm in their Competition forms.