BMW 8 Series Gran Coupe: new M850i test car takes to the Nurburgring

BMW 8 Series Gran Coupe: new M850i test car takes to the Nurburgring

Range-topping 8 Series will come in two-door coupé and convertible forms, as well as in four-door Gran Coupé guise

BMW‘s new range-topping four-door, the 8 Series Gran Coupé, has been spotted in warm M850i guise testing flat-out at the Nürburgring. 

It’s the first glimpse we’ve had at the four-door flagship in the metal, since the dramatic Concept M8 Gran Coupé hinted at the look of the range-topping variant at the Geneva motor show back in March. 

The M850i is likely to share its engine with the not-for-UK M550i, which gets a 456bhp, 480lb ft version of the brand’s 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8. The production M8 is tipped to top 600bhp from a more highly tuned version of the same engine, and the M8 will be available in all three 8 Series bodystyles.

The four-door Gran Coupé is due for production late in 2019; it was previewed at the Geneva motor show with the M8 Gran Coupé concept. The production car’s look will be toned down so that it appears largely similar to its two-door siblings, but with a raised rear roofline to offer more head room inside. 

Following the reveal of the coupé, the convertible and Gran Coupé were all but revealed in patent images showing their distinct designs. The pictures, which surfaced on Bimmerpost, confirmed the car’s look would follow its two-door siblings closely at the front and rear.

The cooking 8 Series will be offered in £76,270 840d guise, up to a £100,045, M850i-badged model, and it’s expected that the Gran Coupé will follow suit, albeit with an M8 Gran Coupé topping the range. 

Pictured previously during a testing stint at the Nürburgring, the design differences of the M8 coupé and convertible are visible. Aside from their differing tops, the variants also get their own bootlids to create different silhouettes.

The Geneva concept, as well as the new patent shots, show where the Gran Coupé – a successor to the M6 Gran Coupé – will differ. So far, only the non-M, two-door 8 Series coupé has been revealed, with the other two body types, and all three M variants, to be revealed later.

Building on the base of the new 8 Series range, which will appear on public roads in November, the M8 models will use BMW’s twin-turbocharged 4.4-litre V8 engine. We know this because the racing M8 that competed in the Daytona 24 Hours earlier this year was equipped with this powerplant.

Without motorsport restrictors to worry about, the finished road car is expected to produce 600bhp, placing it above the latest 592bhp M5 and giving it more firepower than the Mercedes-AMG S63 Coupé, which has 577bhp.

BMW M8 concept shown

M division president Frank van Meel revealed that development of the M8 was started at the same time as the regular 8 Series and that their programmes ran in parallel. He said the M8 builds “on the genes of the 8 Series and augments its DNA with added track ability and generous extra portions of dynamic sharpness, precision and agility”.

Van Meel added: “It all flows into a driving experience that bears the familiar BMW M hallmarks and satisfies our customers’ most exacting requirements.”

BMW 8 Series: official development car pictures released

He 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,” van Meel continued.

Insiders suggest the 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. 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.”

The M8 will carry a heavy premium over the standard 8 Series’ £76,270 starting price, so a starting price surpassing that of even the i8 supercar is certain; the S63 Coupé kicks off at around £131,000.

Global project manager for the 8 Series, Sarah Lessmann, previously told Autocar: “There is a big gap [between the S-Class Coupé and the 911] and we decided the 8 Series shouldn’t quite be in the middle of those: it takes the best out of everything, and defines its own gap. Performance-wise, we’re close to the 911, but we also offer elegant and luxurious materials to match the best of the S-Class.” The Porsche 911 Turbo starts at £128,692.

 

BMW also used 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 was the brand’s first factory entry there in six years.

Additional reporting by Matt Saunders and Sam Sheehan

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Source: Autocar Online

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