We nearly had a heart attack when we first heard rumors that BMW will drop the manual transmission for the M3 sedan and M4 coupe. Ultimately, we learned the rumor was false. That said, given the state and direction of the auto industry, we could really use a confidence boost to reassure us that the big brands know what they're doing. Now, BMW has unveiled their new 2014 BMW M235i Racing car that is designed to enter the VLN Endurance Championship race series at the Nurburgring against the likes of Audi, Porsche, and Toyota. 

The recipe is visually straight forward: take a BMW M235i and give it the wide body treatment. The BMW M235i Racing is 3.5 inches wider than the standard M235i. Underneath, a turbocharged 3.0 liter inline-6 brings power up to a mild 333 hp. Safety features including FIA roll tank and race fuel tank are all up to series regulation.

The BMW M235i Racing will replace the M3 GT4 as BMW's factory racer and will be priced at 59,500 euros (close to $80,000), a rather affordable cost of entry for a brand-new factory prepped car.

“The basis our engineers had to start with when developing the racing version of the BMW M235i Racing was exceptionally good,” said BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt.

“The production models from the BMW M Performance Automobiles range are already incredibly sporty. Because of this, we did not have to make many modifications in order to get the BMW M235i Coupé up and running as a racing car. BMW Motorsport can look back on a long tradition of allowing ambitious teams and drivers an affordable way into motor racing – and of offering them an absolutely competitive car."