A few days ago, we were blabbering about how BMW might choose to put its straight-six to sleep when it comes to the 3 Series G20 facelift that is expected to arrive in late 2022.
Those rumors were based around the fact that the draconic Euro 7 emissions regulations, set to be introduced in 2025, would make such an engine version unfeasible except on more limited hardcore models like the M3 and M4.
Fully fledged M versions in general can afford any emissions fines because they cost heck of a lot more than M Performance models, so it would be only natural for the M340i nameplate to switch to a heavily electrified four-cylinder engine, maybe even in a plug-in hybrid configuration to also benefit from government incentives.
As a matter of fact, a longitudinal version of the M-tuned B48 four-cylinder in cars like the M135i would be a great candidate for an eco-friendlier M340i from the future.
That said, BMW engineers were quick to refute those rumors by running a 2023 BMW M340i LCI pre-production prototype on the famous Nurburgring the other day.
As the car clearly didn’t sound like a four-cylinder and there is no visible charging port for the eventuality of a switch to plug-in hybrid technology, we can safely assume that the B58 mild-hybrid in the current M340i and M440i is making a return.
With 372 PS on tap and another available 11 HP thanks to a mild-hybrid system based on mild-hybrid technology, the powertrain gives the xDrive model an acceleration on par or even greater than the previous-generation (and more powerful) M3.
The spied prototype also seems to sport a set of exterior mirrors that are closer in design to those usually found on full-blown M models, so the exterior design will definitely get a lot more aggressive, with more ‘origami-style’ front and rear bumpers to complete a more evil look.
Just like the non-M 3 Series, the M340i LCI will also get a brand new interior, with the center console receiving a curved display inspired by the one found in the iX electric crossover, which also comes with the latest update of the iDrive infotainment system.