BMW has made good on previously announced plans surrounding its NUMBER ONE > NEXT new product strategy to head upmarket from its current premium positioning with the unveiling of the bold new 8-Series Coupe.
Closely previewed by the earlier Concept 8-Series and 8-Series GTE race car that is being campaigned by the BMW Team MTEK at this weekend’s Le Mans 24 Hour endurance race, the plush new two-door, known under the internal codenamed G14, resurrects the name of one of BMW’s most iconic models as a luxurious rival to the likes of the Aston Martin Vantage, Mercedes-Benz S-class Coupe and Porsche 911.
Set for Australian sales in 2019, the 8-Series Coupe aims to expose the BMW brand to a new group of car buyers in a higher market segment than that reached by the outgoing 6-Series, which it indirectly replaces. At the same time, BMW says it also aims to capture the driving dynamics sought by enthusiast drivers.
While official pricing is being held under wraps until a planned public debut at the Paris motor show in September, officials from the German car maker suggest it will be higher on a model-for-model basis, with a yet to be officially confirmed entry 840i model likely to cost over $200,000, or more than $20,000 over the existing 640i.
Drawing on a modular construction strategy common among all new BMW models featuring a longitudinally mounted engine, the new 8-Series is based on the German car maker’s versatile CLAR (cluster architecture) platform and latest generation electric architecture.
While it is less dramatically styled than either the Concept 8-Series and 8-Series GTE race car, the definitive production version of BMW’s new range-topping coupe fully reflects the German car maker’s latest design lineage in what is arguably its most expressive form to date.
Key exterior elements include a wide and relatively low set one-piece kidney grille, a heavily structured front bumper housing a lip spoiler used to minimise front axle lift at high speeds, slim headlamps with optional laser high-beam projectors and a long contoured bonnet. Further back is a rearward positioned cabin featuring a distinctively curved roofline with a central cut out down the middle, a tapered glasshouse, muscular haunches over the rear wheel arches, a heavily raked rear window and high set boot.
Together with the coupe model pictured here officially for the first time, the new 8-Series is also set to include convertible and four-door GranCoupe models - the latter of which was previewed by the M8 GranCoupe concept at the 2018 Geneva motor show back in March.
Although it has been conceived to compete in a higher market segment, the new 8-Series Coupe is 46mm shorter but some 7mm wider and 33mm lower than the outgoing third-generation 6-Series which it effectively replaces in the BMW line-up at 4851mm in length, 1902mm in width and 1346mm in height. It also uses a 33mm shorter wheelbase along with a 27mm wider front track and 24mm narrower rear track than its indirect predecessor at a respective 2822mm, 1627mm and 1642mm.
Power for the new 8-Series comes from a limited range of turbocharged in-line six-cylinder and V8 engines.
Available from the start of Australian sales in early 2019 will be a 3.0-litre inline six-cylinder diesel unit delivering 235kW at 4400rpm and 650Nm torque at 1750rpm in an initial price leading 840d xDrive Coupe model.
The early performance leader of the new line-up, however, will be the M850i xDrive Coupe M Performance model, which runs a 4.4-litre V8 petrol engine with 390kW at 5500rpm and 750Nm of torque at 1800rpm.
Predictably, both of the 8-Series Coupe’s initial engines come mated to a standard eight-speed torque converter equipped automatic gearbox and BMW’s four-wheel drive xDrive system that is capable of varying the apportioning of drive between the front and rear axle dependant on grip and traction levels.
In the 840d xDrive, this combination provides for a 0-100km/h time of 4.9sec and limited 250km/h top speed in combination with claimed fuel consumption of 5.9L/100km and average CO2 emissions of 154g/km.
More impressive is the M850i xDrive M Performance Coupe. It’s official 0-100km/h time of 3.7sec not only makes its the fastest accelerating 8-Series model yet but also the fastest accelerating M Performance model to date.
By comparison, the more powerful Mercedes-AMG S63 4Matic Coupe, which runs a twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 petrol engine with 450kW and 900Nm of torque, reaches 100km/h from standstill in 3.5sec.
As with its diesel stablemate, the early range-topping 8-Series also hits a limited 250km/h top speed, while returning consumption of 10.0L/100km and average CO2 emissions of 228g/km on the soon-to-be-replaced NEDC test procedure.
The M850i xDrive M Performance Coupe won’t be the last word in performance for the new 8-series, though. That honour is set to be reserved for the M8 - a new four-wheel drive BMW flagship running an even more powerful version of the M5’s twin-turbocharged 4.4-litre V8 engine developing in the region of 450kW and 800Nm of torque that is currently in the final stages of development and due to be revealed in 2019.
Also planned to be added to the line-up in 2019 is a 840i xDrive model running BMW’s classic turbocharged 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder petrol engine with 240kW at 5500rpm and 450Nm at 1380rpm.
Although the 8-Series Coupe is based heavily on the sixth-generation 7-Series sedan - alongside which it will be produced at BMW’s Dingolfing factory in Germany - various aspects of the new model have been altered to provide what its project leader, Markus Flasch, describes as “genuine sporting qualities”.
Among them is the new car’s unique 2822mm wheelbase and a five-link rear suspension that shares much of its design with that used by the 5-series.
Commenting on the ability of the M850i xDrive M Performance Coupe, Flasch said: “This is as close we’ve ever got to a full M-car with an M Performance model.”
Standard features for the initial top-of-the-line 8-Series model include 20-inch wheels and tyres, adaptive dampers offering three different suspension settings, four-wheel steering, an electronically controlled limited slip differential and four-wheel drive. Buyers can also specify the M850i xDrive M Performance with electronically-controlled anti-roll bars as an option to improve roll resistance for greater body control during all-out cornering.