Como, Italy – The BMW 8-Series is back – and it will sire a spectacular twin-turbocharged 4.4L V-8 powered M8 performance flagship.
Previewed by the bold Concept 8-Series design study unveiled at the Concorso d’Eleganza on the shores of Lake Como in Italy, the luxurious new 2+2 coupe is planned to return to the BMW lineup in 2018 after an almost two-decade hiatus as part of what Chairman Harald Krueger, describes as the biggest model offensive in the company’s history.
Set to challenge the likes of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe and Bentley Continental GT at the very top of BMW’s current 12-model lineup, the reborn 8-Series indirectly will replace the existing third-generation 6-Series. That model is due to cease production in coupe and convertible guises after being superseded by a new fourth-generation liftback model in the form of the upcoming 6-Series GT later this year.
“The 8-Series will be the next model in the expansion of our luxury-car offering and will raise the benchmark in the segment,” Krueger says. “It will demonstrate that razor-sharp dynamics and modern luxury car go hand-in-hand, in the process strengthening our claim to leadership in the class.”
Alongside the bullish coupe variant of the new model previewed by the Concept 8-Series, BMW also harbors plans for a plush open-top version of its new range topping 2-door. Set for introduction in 2019, it eschews the folding hardtop arrangement favored by BMW for its convertible models in recent years for an automatic multi-layer fabric.
Design as much as engineering has played a key role in the development of the new 8-Series, which boasts a traditional 2-door layout and classically hinged trunk at the rear. It flaunts a bold look BMW says will heavily influence the appearance of the next-generation models from the German carmaker.
“It showcases a new approach to the use of forms, which is reflected particularly prominently in the surfacing,” says BMW design chief Adrian van Hooydonk, who describes the new coupe as a full-blooded driving machine. “Crisp lines mark out clear surfaces, and the volumes are powerfully sculptured.”
The Concept 8-Series is described by BMW as a taste of a forthcoming model, which is being developed under the internal codename G17. But while its dimensions and overall form will be reflected on the production version of the new BMW coupe, van Hooydonk acknowledges various elements and cues will be altered before it enters U.S. showrooms during the latter half of next year.
BMW says it has put a lot of time and effort into projecting how the new 8-Series will be viewed on the road. The silhouette features a long hood, flowing roofline and upward sweep that helps provide a sporting flourish to the high set rear. Flared front wheel arches and prominent haunches over the rear wheels give the car a heavy dose of visual muscle that is set to be further enhanced on the top-of-the-line M8 by even wider bodywork.
A number of characteristic BMW concept car flourishes, such as the oversized kidney grille, thin laser-projector headlamps, exaggerated air breather elements behind the front wheel arches and within the rear bumper and OLED imbued L-shaped taillamps, all have been altered with a more conservative appearance for the production version of the new 8-Series, due to begin rolling from BMW’s Dingolfing factory in Germany during second-quarter 2018.
BMW has reworked its latest rear-wheel-drive platform, the so-called CLAR (cluster architecture) structure, in creating the new 8-Series, which receives its own unique wheelbase and track widths to provide it with a suitably hunkered-down stance reminiscent of the first-generation model launched in 1989. The 21-in. wheels will be retained as an option on the production car, according to BMW.
Among the high-tech chassis features set to appear on standard versions of the new range-topping BMW is a double wishbone (front) and multi-link (rear) suspension with constantly variable air springs all around, as well as an integral rear-steering function.
Alongside standard rear-drive versions, BMW also plans a limited number of 4-wheel-drive xDrive models, including the range topping M8, which is set to share much of its mechanical package with the upcoming sixth-generation M5.
Portrayed as the most advanced combustion-engine BMW yet, it is also claimed to adopt the lightweight construction initiatives found on the existing 7-Series, including the use of carbon-fiber composite within load-bearing structural elements, in a move officials contend will see the production 8-Series tip the scales at a curb weight well under that of its key rivals.
BMW is holding back on details of the 8-Series’ drivelines, though the coupe is expected to feature up to three standard front, longitudinally mounted gasoline engines.
Recent trademark applications hint at a likely entry-level 840i model running a turbocharged 3.0L straight-6, an 850i with a turbocharged 4.4L V-8 and M860i xDrive M Performance fitted with the same turbocharged 6.6L V-12 that powers the M760Li xDrive.
Also under consideration is an 840e plug-in hybrid model using the same gasoline-electric powertrain seen in the 740e iPerformance. Crowning the lineup will be the highly anticipated M8.
All models save for the M8 will feature a standard 8-speed automatic, with the 840i and 850i likely to offer the choice of either standard rear- or optional 4WD. The M760i xDrive and M8 are set to receive 4WD as standard.
The new 8-Series is among three all-new models planned before the end of 2018 as part of the German automaker’s Number One Next strategy that aims to see it snare back the luxury-car sales crown from Mercedes-Benz.
Also planned for showrooms by the end of next year is the X2 previewed by the Concept X2 at the Paris auto show last September and, at the more luxury-orientated end of BMW’s burgeoning SUV ranks, the U.S.-built X7.
The original BMW 8-Series was launched in 1989 and remained in production until 1999.