BMW 8 Series – new flagship sports coupe unveiled

A new BMW 8 Series has been on the cards for some time. We first heard whispers of the big coupé’s revival back in 2016, and a year later BMW confirmed it with the unveiling of the stunning Concept 8 Series. This was followed swiftly by the M8 GTE race car and the aggressive Concept M8 Gran Coupé, so we knew Munich was being serious about the car as part of an all-out assault on the luxury market.

Now, the finished article has finally been revealed, just in time for the 24 Hours of Le Mans later today. The new model, which replaces the 6 Series Coupé, dusts off a nameplate last used by the sleek low-nosed original from 1989, and complements the 7 Series and the upcoming X7 at the top of BMW’s model range.

While the production model has been toned down significantly from the show car, there are a number of stylistic cues that have been retained. These include the slit-like headlights – the slimmest headlights ever fitted on a BMW model, available with either standard LED lighting or the optional adaptive Laserlight with Selective Beam – as well as the trapezoidal double kidney grille and single-piece chrome surround.

The long straked bonnet and low-slung double bubble roof give the 8 Series classical sports car proportions, while the deep side surfacing is carried by twin character lines that flow from the Air Breather vents. The upper line sweeps upwards to form the muscular rear haunches, emphasised by the tapered glasshouse.

BMW 8 Series – new flagship sports coupe unveiled

Moving to the rear of the car, one can spot the trademark L-shaped full-LED tail lights, the sculpted rear spoiler as well as the dual trapezoidal exhausts. As usual, there’s an M Sport package incorporating a jutting front spoiler with larger air intakes, deeper side skirts and a more aggressive rear diffuser.

For the first time, however, you can also specify an M Technic package that adds extended Shadow Line trim and an additional bootlid spoiler. The new Carbon package, as the name suggests, throws in a carbon fibre roof (a first for a series non-M model) as well as other bits and pieces including the air intake trims, door mirror caps, rear diffuser insert and rear spoiler, all in carbon.

The interior moves away from the styling of other recent BMWs in that there’s a longitudinal centre console that is angled towards the driver. The corner air vents are neatly integrated with the speaker grilles and door handles, which together with the sweeping dashboard and door panel add to the cocooned feel. Full leather dash and door trim is offered as standard, together with the Vernasca leather upholstery on the seats.

BMW 8 Series – new flagship sports coupe unveiled

Speaking of which, sports seats come as standard and feature headrests built into the backrest (similarly for the rear seats), as well as power adjustment and a memory function for the driver and (finally!) passenger. Multifunction seats with increased adjustment, lateral support and comfort characteristics are available as an option, along with Merino and BMW Individual Merino leather upholstery.

Between the seats sits a new function cluster with active haptic feedback, housing the starter button, iDrive controller, the Driving Experience Control switches and the stubby gearlever. These controls can be had in glass as an option, with the multifaceted gearlever featuring an illuminated “8” symbol.

Other options include redesigned seat ventilation, the touchscreen BMW Display Key, Qi wireless smartphone charging and dynamic interior lighting to complement the standard ambient lighting. There’s also a choice of either a 16-speaker Harmon Kardon sound system or an illuminated 1,375-watt Bowers & Wilkins Diamond Surround Sound System to replace the standard 11-speaker system.

BMW 8 Series – new flagship sports coupe unveiled

As for infotainment, the 8 Series comes as standard with the Professional navigation system, featuring a 10.25-inch centre touchscreen, gesture control and the new BMW Operating System 7.0. Also standard is the new 12.3-inch BMW Live Cockpit Professional instrument display, with a hexagonal design incorporating a reverse-direction rev counter as well as new display functions including a portion of the navigation map.

Under the skin, the 8 Series utilises BMW’s modular Cluster Architecture (CLAR) with a steel, aluminium, magnesium and carbon fibre construction, similar to the 7 Series. There’s double wishbone front and five-link rear suspension, with unique kinematics and elastokinematics providing increased agility, precision and performance. Adaptive M suspension and rear Integral Active Steering are fitted as standard.

Two variants are available from launch, starting with the all-wheel drive 840d xDrive diesel powered by a 3.0 litre twin-turbocharged straight-six. It makes 320 hp at 4,400 rpm and 680 Nm from 1,780 to 2,250 rpm, and is paired to an eight-speed Steptronic Sport automatic transmission. Headline figures include a zero to 100 km/h time of 4.9 seconds as well as combined fuel consumption of between 5.9 and 6.2 litres per 100 km.

The other option is the M850i xDrive. The halfway house M Performance model (slotting below the eventual M8) uses an upgraded version of the M550i‘s 4.4 litre biturbo petrol V8, pushing out 530 hp from 5,500 to 6,000 rpm and a whopping 750 Nm between 1,800 and 4,600 rpm. It blitzes the zero to 100 km/h benchmark in just 3.7 seconds and will use fuel at a rate of between 10.0 and 10.5 litres per 100 km combined.

Distinguishing the M850i xDrive from other 8 Series models is the standard M Sport package plus an additional front splitter, bootlid lip spoiler and Cerium Grey exterior highlights. It also gets standard multifunction seats, M sports steering wheel, a uniquely-tuned rear-biased xDrive all-wheel drive system, an electronic rear differential lock, larger M Sport brakes as well as optional active anti-roll bars.

Last but not least, the 8 Series is offered with a full suite of driver assistance and connectivity features. The optional Driving Assistant Professional package adds Active Cruise Control with Stop and Go and the steering and lane control assistant to provide semi-autonomous driving, and also features Lane Keeping Assistant with active side collision protection that can steer out of harm’s way.

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Other features in the Driving Assistant Professional include evasion aid (now detects pedestrians), rear collision warning, priority warning, wrong-way warning and crossing traffic warning (now with braking intervention). Collision and Pedestrian Warning with City Braking is fitted as standard, as is a revised head-up display with a projection area that is now 16% larger than before.

Parking Assistant is available as an option and now includes the Reversing Assistant that traces the previous completed parking manoeuvre backwards. The Parking Assistant Plus package adds a 360-degree monitor with three-dimensional rendering, plus a Remote 3D View function for smartphones. Also optional is BMW Night Vision which uses the headlights to mark pedestrians, animals and other objects on the display.

The usual BMW Connected features are offered alongside Open Mobility Cloud, allowing access to the car’s features from digital devices such as the iPhone and Apple Watch, Android smartphones and smartwatches, Amazon Alexa and Google Home. There’s also an NFC-enabled Digital Key (launches with selected Samsung smartphones), Remote Software Upgrade as well as Microsoft Office 365 with Skype for Business.