It would be foolish to pretend that the BMW M3 does not hold a special place in my heart. Ten years of ownership with an E92 will do that.

That car is gone, but soon, a replacement will arrive in the form of the new G80 BMW M3. While visiting the BMW Ultimate Driving Event, I was able to get a peak at the finished production model behind a closed curtain.

In typical BMW fashion, no cameras were allowed. (I’m aware of the irony that this photography blog post has no photos). Because of the importance of the car to the BMW community, I wanted to share my thoughts before it’s officially revealed.

The Outside

The discussion of this generation of M3 will begin and end with the grille, and after seeing it in person..it’s good! Painted in gloss black, with body color surround, it looks very well integrated into the front end. The rest of the front bumper is a bit busy, but that is BMW’s MO. It fits very well when taking in the entire car.

Walking around the car, you have the typical M3 flair – side gills, double-wing M mirrors, carbon fiber roof, wider rear fender flair, and a quad exhaust. It retains the classic overall shape.

Sharing a rear end with its lesser G20 3 Series, the G80 is much wider and more aggressive overall. A rear valence in gloss black completes the look, though a spoiler and rear badge were missing from this pre-production model.

Laser headlights were on the car, in a shape very reminiscent of the current 8 Series. There was a bit of E90 shape overall when taking the car in, which made me happy.

There is no power dome on the hood, but it does get indentations by the grilles and front badge.

The model shown was a Competition, so it had larger gloss-black wheels (19s in front, 20s in back) and black badging. Carbon Ceramic brakes are standard on the lauch model.

The Color

Called Isle of Man Green, it’s a new shade from BMW that leans toward a teal hue. This will be the launch color for the car (meaning all the official BMW images will be shot in this color). I find that BMW gets it right when picking the hue to show the car in for the first time. Similar to Yas Marina Blue on the F80, or the Alpine White of the E92.

Inside, the leather seats were similar to, if not the same as, Aragon Brown on the current F90 M5. Seat insets were black, and the seat belts had typical M tri-color stitching.

Interior

The car was not open, but inside I could see front seats very similar in shape to the F80’s buckets. A red start button, gear selector from the M8 and other M treatments make it feel special.

Hope you like Carbon

Available for the first time will be a carbon fiber package that includes front intakes with carbon accents, side gills and a real carbon rear valance. The carbon fiber roof is standard, with the option of a sunroof as in previous generations.

Inside, you can choose to have your seat backs covered in carbon fiber along with carbon fiber trim.

Performance

Tight-lipped about what comes in the car, I can tell you there will be a base and Competition-spec trim level. The base will be RWD with a 6-speed manual, while the Comp will be automatic-only. The DCT is replaced by the typical BMW 8-speed automatic.

Rear-wheel drive will be standard, but all-wheel drive was not confirmed. The Comp will have more power, a stiffer suspension with revised electronics and upgraded wheel and tire sizes.

One item of note is the standard Carbon Ceramic brakes on the Competition trim. Previously a $10,000 option on M cars, it’ll be interesting to see how the final MSRP turns out.

Final thoughts

The E9X M3 has become somewhat of a classic due to that amazing V-8 engine (you can read my thoughts on that car here). But the car was always a bit soft for me, and the ergonomics became dated over time. After driving the F8X plenty of times, I can tell you the stiffer structure was a welcome change.

Nothing will replace the flexibility of a high-revving NA engine, but I’m ready for the next generation. Bring it on!

Feel free to email me at mike@machineswithsouls.com with any questions.

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