A rapid 600bhp-plus BMW M8 performance flagship is set to crown a resurrected BMW 8 Series model line-up by the end of the decade.
The upmarket coupé is tentatively scheduled to make its world debut during the second half of 2019 and will rival the Aston Martin Rapide, Bentley Continental GT and Mercedes-AMG S63 Coupé in a move aimed at projecting BMW back into the upper echelons of the performance car arena.
The M8 will be propelled by a new twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 petrol engine and offer buyers the choice of rear-wheel drive or an optional xDrive four-wheel drive set-up. All-wheel drive is expected to provide the aluminium and carbonfibre-intensive coupé with off-the-line traction to match the keenest of its rivals in standing-start acceleration. Insiders suggest its 0-62mph time will be “well under 4.0sec”.
The decision to push ahead with the M8 comes after an earlier aborted attempt at mating the original 8 Series with BMW M’s performance know-how. In 1990 the German car maker produced a one-off prototype of the 8 Series fitted with a 600bhp naturally aspirated 6.0-litre V12 engine, a bespoke 6.1-litre version of which was used to power the McLaren F1 supercar.
However, plans for a production M8 were dropped because of the high cost of development and concerns about the demand for such an extreme car. Instead, BMW pushed ahead with the 850CSi, which was launched in 1992 and was powered by a 375bhp 5.4-litre V12.
As exclusively reported by Autocar in February, the reborn 8 Series is planned to indirectly replace the existing 6 Series, the coupé version of which is set to end production at BMW’s Dingolfing plant in Germany in early 2018 to make way for its 8 Series successor.
A fabric-roofed convertible version of the new 8 Series will follow in 2019, shortly before the new M8, according to BMW sources familiar with the company’s model plans.
Our spy pictures reveal the shape of the reborn 8 Series coupé, codenamed G17, for the very first time. Stretching to well over 5000mm in length, the big 2+2 receives a distinctive cab-back profile with a long, sweeping bonnet, large wheel houses, a heavily curved roofline, frameless doors, long, flowing C-pillars, prominent rear haunches, a shallow, fixed rear screen and a short bootlid.
The basis for the new flagship model is the versatile CLAR (cluster architecture) platform used by the current 7 Series and set to be adopted on upcoming successor models to the 5, 4, 3 and 2 Series. As with the latest 7 Series, it will feature a mix of materials, including aluminium, magnesium, high-strength steel and carbonfibre, in a bid to provide the 8 Series with both the highest level of rigidity and lowest kerb weight in its class.
Trademark applications recently lodged by BMW with intellectual property regulators provide a hint to the engines being readied for the 8 Series. In March BMW moved to protect a number of possible model designations, including 825, 830, 850, 860 and M850. More recently, it also applied to register the trademark M8.
Among the petrol engines earmarked for the standard 8 Series are a turbocharged 3.0-litre straight six in the 840i and a new turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 in the 850i. The V8 will provide the basis for the powerplant used by the M8 and M850 M Performance. They will be supported by a turbocharged 6.6-litre V12 in the 860i.
Also planned is an 840e plug-in hybrid using the same petrol-electric powertrain as the recently introduced 740e iPerformance.
Read more: BMW 8 Series spotted in development
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