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All-new BMW 8-series unveiled at Le Mans

16th Jun 2018 11:05 am

BMW claims its two-door coupé is designed to provide 911 levels of performance combined with S-class rivalling luxury.

BMW has revived the 8-series nameplate (last seen in 1999) in its international line-up by finally unveiling the new two-door coupé at Le Mans 24 Hours. According to the car’s global product manager, Sarah Lessmann, the new BMW 8-series Coupé has been designed to offer the performance of a Porsche 911 with the luxury of a Mercedes-Benz S-class.

The model is meant to kick-start BMW’s push into the super-luxury market, and Lessmann said that the brief was to “define how a sports car should be”. She added: “Everyone in the project had the vision of BMW getting back to sports cars, and not just sporty cars.”

The 8-series will initially be offered in two versions for international markets. The range-topping M850i xDrive features a 4.4-litre V8 petrol engine that produces 532hp and 750Nm of torque between 1,800rpm and 4,600rpm. It can achieve 0-100kph in 3.7sec, with a limited top speed of 250kph. The V8 engine has been tweaked significantly, which includes the addition of new, enlarged twin-scroll turbochargers that increase power by 68hp compared to previous versions.

The 840d xDrive is powered by a 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder diesel producing 320hp and 680Nm, with a claimed 0-100kph time of 4.9sec. Both models are equipped with an eight-speed gearbox that gets gear ratios that have been increased to aid performance. As their name implies, both models also get BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive system, though with a rear-biased set-up.

BMW has yet to confirm additional engine options, although a mild hybrid version is understood to be under consideration.

The brand hopes to fill a gap in the luxury sports car market between models like Mercedes-Benz’s S-class Coupé and Porsche’s 911.

“We have a broad range of competitors, but comparing the 8-series to only one just doesn’t feel right,” said Lessmann.

While it effectively replaces the 6-series Gran Coupé as the two-door coupé in BMW’s line-up, Lessmann insisted it is neither a successor to that model nor a coupé version of the 7-series, with which it shares platform architecture elements (and will be built alongside at BMW’s Dingolfing plant in Germany). She said: “The 6-series was a derivation of the 5-series, but here we have a standalone car, design-wise, performance-wise and component-wise.

“We could start from scratch to define how a sports car should be.”

The model’s unveil at the Le Mans 24 Hours is meant to lend credence to the fact that it has been developed alongside the forthcoming M8 and the M8 GTE endurance racing car.

The road car features racing- inspired double-wishbone front and five-link rear axle suspension. The M850i has been developed as an integrated package. The set-up was built around bespoke Bridgestone tyres (245/35 R20 at the front, 275/30 R20 at the rear), which sit on 20-inch wheels. It also features variable damper control, active M suspension with electronically controlled dampers and a new version of BMW’s xDrive system, which includes adaptive power steering and integral active steering and a limited-slip differential. The model gets 395mm M Sport brakes.

Lessmann noted that the M Sport exhaust system and V8 engine ensured that the model offered a “true sporty sound experience”. She added: “You don’t just have the driving experience of a sports car, but the true V8 engine sound – there’s no sound generator: it’s pure.”

The 840d sits on 18-inch alloys as standard, with 19-inch and 20-inch available as options, as part of the M Sport and M Technic Sport packages. A range of driver assistance systems, including active cruise control, is offered as standard – features such as lane keeping assist are optional as part of the Driving Assistant Professional pack.

The 8-series is 4,843mm long, 1,902mm wide and 1,341mm tall, with a wheelbase of 2,822mm and a 420-litre boot capacity. The model adopts BMW’s new design language for its sports cars, which aims to bring a more modern and emotional look. Lessmann claims some design cues were taken from 1970s sports cars.

The new design includes the revamped, bolder kidney grille, which features a single surround and hexagonal pattern, along with the slimmest headlights offered on any BMW model. Those are matched by slim LED tail-lights, which feed into a spoiler and two sets of exhaust pipes. The car has deliberately muscular flanks and a ‘double bubble’ dip in the roof (available in carbonfibre as an option), designed to recall a detail from classic racing cars. The large front and rear spoilers are to boost grip and performance.

The cabin of the 8-series gets bespoke seats, a 12.3-inch driving instrument display and a 10.25-inch central touchscreen as standard, along with an improved version of BMW’s head-up display. The control system can be operated via touchscreen, voice control, gesture control or the iDrive touch controller, along with buttons mounted on the leather steering wheel. In order to emphasise the car’s premium quality, leather is standard on the instrument panel and doors, and options include a diamond-cut glass gear selector and other controls.

Lessmann said the firm is “still discussing” future 8-series variants. A Concept M8 Gran Coupé was shown at this year’s Geneva motor show, previewing a future four-door coupé likely to be launched late next year, and a cabriolet version is also set to be introduced.

Also see:

2018 BMW 8-series image gallery

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