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Mike Stevens | Mar 20, 2009

While the latest iteration of the BMW M3 line has enjoyed life as a V8, the next evolution in the series is set to return to six-cylinder territory – with a little help from its (turbo) friends.

BMW’s M division boss Ludwig Willisch confirmed in a recent interview with Motor Trend that, in the face of tough new emissions laws soon to be in place, the company is looking to strike a balance between efficiency and performance.

To this end, the German giant is planning to disconnect the M3’s V8 heart and replace it with a turbo-charged six-cylinder for the new model in 2013, though it’s not yet been decided whether it will be an inline-six or a V6 unit.

While Willisch couldn’t confirm the shape of the power plant, he did say that it would not be based on the I6 currently powering the 335i.

Willisch said that of the options available, a V6 would offer a more compact arrangement, allowing for better balance.

Dropping a pair of cylinders is not likely to bother too many, given the M3’s historical ties to the six-cylinder format.

The addition of turbo-charging should however ensure that the M3 maintains the mountains of power on hand with the current model. Willisch said that while that’s one of the main goals, it may not be more powerful than the current 308kW V8.

He said that the next M3 will be lighter, so any gains not made in power will at least be found there.

"Engines don't need to be more powerful for the next car. As long as you have lighter weight, you have better performance," Willisch said.

Willisch also confirmed that, while it won’t necessarily be an ‘M’ model, BMW is planning to release a lighter Super Sports version of the 1 Series, powered by a twin-turbo-charged four-cylinder.

BMW is aiming for around 223kW from the 1 Series Super Sports.

[via Motor Trend]

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