BMW will reveal a concept version of its M8 performance car with a four-door Gran Coupé body at the Geneva motor show. The concept, partially shown in a new shadowy picture, will preview the look and styling of the M division's 608hp range-topper in its most practical guise. Along with those new back doors, it will have a longer roofline to offer increased rear head room.
The concept for the BMW M8 Gran Coupé – as it is expected to be called – foreshadows a production version, which is due next year. The four-door version of the M8 will sit alongside the coupé and convertible models at the top of the new 8-series range, which will appear on public roads in November.
Although it has yet to be officially revealed, we know the production M8 models will use BMW's twin-turbocharged 4.4-litre V8 engine because the racing M8 that competed in this year's Daytona 24 Hours was equipped with this powerplant. Without motorsport restrictors to worry about, the finished road car is expected to produce 608hp. This places it above the latest 600hp M5 and giving it more firepower than the Mercedes-AMG S63 Coupé, which has 585hp.
Spy photographers at our sister publication, Autocar UK, have captured both the hard and soft-top versions of the two-door M8 testing in public. One can see the large air intakes, quad exhausts and aggressive styling these cars will receive.
M division president Frank van Meel revealed that development of the M8 has started at the same time as the regular 8-series and that their programmes ran in parallel. He said that the M8 builds "on the genes of the 8-series and augments its DNA with an added track ability and generous extra portions of dynamic sharpness, precision and agility."
"It all flows into a driving experience that bears the familiar BMW M hallmarks and satisfies our customers’ most exacting requirements,” said van Meel. He also said that BMW's engineers set out "to ensure that the standard car wasn’t too sporty for its customers", because the M division "wanted the M8 to feel like a proper step up".
"Also, because not all 8-series customers want an M car," he added.
Insiders suggest the 8-series and M8 will use the same platform as the 7-series and 5-series, and that the M car will share much of the drivetrain of the four-wheel-drive M5. “For now, I can’t confirm that,” van Meel said of the speculation, “except to say that we have watched the luxury sports coupé market closely and we see lots of four-wheel-drive cars within it already. We have also already proven that our M xDrive four-wheel-drive system doesn’t adversely affect the handling purity of the new M5. There’s nothing to fear from four-wheel drive.
“We certainly want to make a statement with this car," he said. "It will sit at the very top of our model range and, for now, we have no confirmed plans for any series production model above it, so we understand it must have a specification suiting its position in our hierarchy.”
BMW will also use the M8 GTE – the racing version of the car – to compete as part of a factory effort in this year's Le Mans 24 Hours endurance race. It will be the brand's first factory entry there in six years.
BMW 8-series officially revealed in light camouflage
BMW M8 GTE to compete in the 2018 Le Mans 24 Hours