SCOOP: All-New 2014 BMW M3 Sedan Caught and it's Packing a Twin-Turbocharged Straight-Six

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Our spy photographers have finally spotted the brand-new BMW M3 saloon more than a year before its introduction sometime in the first half of 2013. Those that are more interested in the two-door model will most likely have to wait, as the M3 Coupe is currently planned to follow later on.

There's still some debate whether BMW will shuffle up its nameplates, as some sources suggest that the next 1-Series coupe will be renamed to the 2-Series, and the 3-Series Coupe into the 4-Series, meaning the M3 Coupe could become known as the M4. However, none of this has been officially confirmed yet.

Leaving the nameplates aside, the M3 sedan and the M3 Coupe or M4, will share the same powertrain, and here where the really big news comes in.

While BMW started off the M3 series with a naturally aspirated four-cylinder unit in the E30, continuing for two generations [E36/E46] with a atmospheric straight-six and a naturally aspirated V8 on the latest E90/E92/93 M3s, the F80 will bring a downsized inline-six with a twin-, or according to some reports, tri-turbocharged twist.

The new unit, which is believed to be based on one of BMW's new direct-injection 3.0-liter straight-sixes, will be lighter, more fuel-efficient and most importantly, even more powerful than the current 420HP (414HP in U.S.-spec) 4.0-liter V8 delivering closer to 450-horses.

Power, of course, will be delivered to the rear axle through either a seven-speed dual clutch transmission or a classic 6-speed manual gearbox. As with any M model, the flagship 3-Series will benefit from BMW's M Dynamic system and an upgraded chassis with bespoke suspension, steering wheel and brake systems.

Visually, the prototype M3 sedan model pictured here is distinguished by the flared front- and rear-wheel arches, the bulkier bumpers, the signature quad exhaust pipes and the large alloy wheels.

The actual production model will feature further bespoke design cues such as the exterior mirrors, headlamp and tail lamp graphics, and possibly a hood bulge, which was absent from the test car.