This 3 Series coupe was spotted in the Northern Cape. Note the huge exhausts - typical of a turbo.
It certainly looks like it when you check out the huge exhaust pipes on this spy picture of the new BMW Coupe, taken by eagle-eyed reader Chris Jonker on a recent trip to the Northern Cape.
The lightly disguised 3-Series coupe was accompanied by a heavily disguised BMW X5.
At first we thought, from the huge exhaust pipes, that it might be the next M3.
However the absence of any sports-type trim or other embellishments on this otherwise production-ready car killed that thought.
Then we received details of the all-new engine which we now believe sits under the bonnet of the coupe.
The engine will be unveiled in the metal at the Geneva Motor Show next week.
The 225 kW/400 Nm 3-litre turbo six is expected to bridge the gap between BMW's magnesium-alloy inline six-cylinder engine family and its 4-litre V8.
Although BMW is not telling which models will get the new engine, insiders believe the all-aluminium (not magnesium) six to power the forthcoming E92 3 Series coupe in a new 335Ci-badged variant, the 5 Series sedan (in which it should revive the 535i nameplate) and possibly the 6 Series coupe/convertible and 7 Series sedan.
The new twin-turbo engine
V8 for the M3
However, the next M3 is still expected to be powered by high-performance 4-litre V8 derived from the M5/M6's 373 kW 5-litre V10.
The new twin turbo engine uses new technologies such as two low-inertia turbos feeding a three cylinders each in a bid to get rid of turbo lag.
It also has double-VANOS and VALVETRONIC valve actuation systems, plus, for the first time in a BMW six-cylinder engine, direct injection as used in the 760Li's 6-litre V12.
This is claimed to reduce fuel consumption by 10%.
A bonus is that although the twin turbo delivers the same 225 kW power output as the 740i and 540?s 4-litre V8, it weighs 70kg less.
And the massive torque comes in a flat band from 1 500 r/min to 5 800 r/min.
Side view shows the car is production ready - but it's not an M3
"Now BMW is ready to open a new chapter in turbo-charged petrol-engined road cars and reset the benchmark for dynamic driving with forced-induction," says BMW.