GENEVA MOTOR SHOW
Bavarian flagship M8 gets even grander
Racy four-door coupe gains space, tech and power to replace 6 Series Gran Coupe
Bad news: BMW is in the process of killing off its 6 Series models. Good news: it’s replacing them with the 8 Series.
Not only that, but the Concept M8 Gran Coupe will arrive in 2019 as the flagship of the BMW range, topping even the traditional 7 Series king in price, luxury and equipment.
It will go on sale with a standard 8 Series Gran Coupe powered by mild-hybrid six-cylinder petrol and diesel power, along with a faster, angrier M8 based on this production car.
The Bavarian brand showed the Salève Vert green Concept M8 Gran Coupe at the Geneva Motor Show this week, delivering a swooping four-door version of the two-door coupe it showed early in 2017.
While the 8 Series coupe was shown first at the Villa d’Este Concorso d’Eleganza, it chose the most prestigious motoring stage in Europe for the four-seat Concept M8 Gran Coupe.
"The BMW 8 Series will take over as the new flagship model of the BMW line-up and combines unsurpassed sportiness and elegance," says Adrian van Hooydonk, the BMW Group’s senior vice-president of design. "The BMW Concept M8 Gran Coupe offers a look ahead to the most exotic and alluring variant of the new BMW 8 Series."
It takes the familiar E-segment premium strategy of twinning a sexier car on the bones of a conservative machine (Audi’s A7 and A6, Mercedes-Benz’s CLS and E-Class and BMW’s own 5 Series and 6 Series Gran Turismo) and steps it up into even more rarified air. BMW sources insist the production version will step up in price to fill the gap between the 7 Series and the Rolls-Royce Wraith.
For that level of wedge, it will need to offer more than speed, being pitched to take on everything from the Mercedes-AMG S63 to Bentley’s Continental four-door and Porsche’s Panamera Turbo models.
While BMW made no mention of the concept’s powertrain, sources insist it won’t be powered by the brand’s relatively low-tech V12 for weight, cost and economy reasons, and the 4.0l V8 is not considered premium enough for the launch engines of the flagship.
The most likely candidate would be an electrified, 48V mild-hybrid version of the M5’s 4.4l, twin-turbo V8, complete with all-wheel drive and eight-speed automatic transmission.
"The BMW Concept M8 Gran Coupe is designed to stir things up, to polarise — it should move you emotionally," says Domagoj Dukec, BMW M vice-president of design.
"With this car we want to reach people who are looking for something special and who want to stand out from the crowd. Here, BMW M is unmistakably taking luxury out of its comfort zone."
It takes the Concept 8 Series coupe’s more aggressive, elongated design language and steps it up, providing supercar-like surfacing and venting to a fairly traditional market segment.
It features massively wide kidney grilles, pointing into flattened twin-circle headlights, now narrowed into a pair of slits instead of the depth-stealing chunks they have become on 3, 5 and 7 Series models.
Likewise, the central part of the radiator’s air intake is now a gaping, deep mouth, stretched sideways and almost steals space from the side intakes.
Its design has left the impression of a cab-back body design, even though the sculpted bonnet is little longer than it is on the 7 Series. The long glasshouse seems more like a stretched, pillarless sports car design than a luxury limousine, while the roof is made from carbon fibre.
Its quad exhausts sit low on a rear end that tops out with a fixed, enlarged spoiler lip atop the bootlid.
BMW has not yet released any information on the interior, though it is said to be luxurious even by 7 Series standards.