A month ahead of its official reveal at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the BMW 8-series has been shown undisguised in a murky preview shot. The car was seen alongside its race-going M8 GTE sibling, which will be competing in the event on June 15, 2018.
Most recently, an image surfaced on Instagram which shows the 8-series’ digital instrument cluster as part of its new dashboard design. The image shows that the new two-door range-topper will swap its siblings’ conventional dials for a digital layout which will be BMW's answer to Audi's Virtual Cockpit system. So far only the i3 and i8 have featured this technology; but the 8-series looks set to change that.
The 8-series is also expected to come with BMW's most advanced suspension technology, in an attempt to make it more enjoyable to drive than the Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupé and Bentley Continental GT.
Part of the car's development period included testing on the technical B-roads of Wales. The car's dynamics were evaluated and finalised on some of the world's finest stretches of Tarmac, with the brief for engineers to produce a mix of "fascinating sportiness and supreme comfort". To achieve this, BMW has provided the car with a host of driver-focused hardware and software, including adaptive damping and a dynamic stability control setting that allows for more playfulness while still retaining a 'safety net'.
Inside, 8-series models will feature the same top-end technologies found in the 7-series, including the latest and next-generation semi-autonomous functions.
The 8-series has seen one of the largest build-ups in recent automotive history with three preceding concepts. The 8-series concept, the M8 Gran Coupé concept and a racing concept; the last of which is being followed by the M8 GTE – which is competing in this year's World Endurance Championship, of which Le Mans is the most illustrious round.
The upcoming 8-series is technically related to the 7-series sedan, essentially being a two-door coupé version of the latter, much in the same way that the 4-series and 3-series are related. The 8-series will share naming conventions and engines with its sedan sibling as well. This means that an iPerformance-badged plug-in hybrid will feature in the range, while the entry-level 3.0-litre six-cylinder diesel unit found in the 730d will be used in the 830d. The 8-series line-up will also include the more performance-oriented 4.4-litre V8 currently employed in the 750i, paired to xDrive (all-wheel drive) and 515hp.
Christian Billig, head of drive system integration at BMW, said, “Above all, the eight-cylinder harmonises perfectly with the further developed Steptronic transmission during dynamic acceleration. At the same time, the sound development of the sports exhaust system authentically reflects the car’s power delivery."
A V12-engined model will be introduced at a later stage, although the most hardcore variant of the range will be the M8, which will make use of the lighter V8 but in an uprated form. It's likely to be near-identical to the current M5’s powerplant, which is a 592hp, 4.4-litre, twin-turbocharged, V8 engine, and will share the xDrive four-wheel drive system as well.
The 8-series line-up will also include the more performance-oriented 4.4-litre V8 in the 750i, accompanied by xDrive all-wheel drive and 523bhp. Our sister publication, Autocar UK, has already driven the M850i xDrive – a prototype for the two-door coupé that demonstrated the car's potential on technical roads. However, the final settings won't be confirmed until closer to the November sale date.
As part of BMW's range shake-up, the 8-series coupé will indirectly replace the 6-series coupé, which will end production this year, while the 6-series convertible will then be indirectly replaced by the 8-series convertible next year. The other 6-series variant, the Gran Coupé, is likely to be superseded by an 8-series Gran Coupé. These model shifts were first set in motion when the 5-series GT replaced the 6-series GT.