BMW has begun teasing the arrival of the new 8 Series Coupe by releasing images of a close-to-series-production prototype as it undergoes testing in Aprilia, Italy. There’s also a darkened photo of the finished product’s rear, which we’ll get to later.

Previewed by the Concept 8 Series back in May last year, the 8 Series brings back a nameplate that was last used on the original E31 from close to two decades ago. The 8 Series will compete against models like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe, Bentley Continental GT and other luxury two-door GT coupes. A cabriolet version is also to be expected later on, based on previous spyshots.

While many have touted the 8 Series to be a coupe version of the 7 Series, it shares more in common with the 6 Series in appearance. As these images imply, the 8 Series looks significantly longer than the current 6 Series, with hints of the Pininfarina Gran Lusso.

The darkened photo serves its purpose well, where we are only able to see a few select cues. These include the rear signature lighting, what appears to be an off-coloured diffuser element and a double bubble roof.

Like the new 5 and 7 Series, the 8 Series will be underpinned by the modular Cluster Architecture (CLAR), which uses lightweight materials such as aluminium, magnesium and carbon-fibre – as is the case of the 7 Series.

Given its association with the 7 Series, the engine line-up should match up as well, with straight-six, V8 and V12 turbocharged mills in either petrol or diesel forms being made available. A high-performance M8 model has already been confirmed for production, while an iPerformance plug-in hybrid should be another likelihood.

Aside from the road-going models, BMW will also introduce an 8 Series race car in the form of the M8 GTE. The M8 GTE will make its racing debut at the Daytona 24-hour race later this month, and the know-how gained will be used to further develop the M8.

GALLERY: BMW Concept 8 Series

GALLERY: BMW 8 Series prototypes spyshots