8 Series revival

Monster M8 part of BMW’s plan to march upmarket

CAMERON KIRBY

BMW’s decision to revive the 8 Series nameplate will spawn a range of sleek, high-powered variants, including a barnstorming M8 flagship.

Don’t get too excited for a V12, though. Despite the abandoned M8 project from 1989 having an orchestral bent-12, the modern iteration – seen here in our artist’s impression – will be sticking to a proven eight-cylinder layout, lifted from the forthcoming M5.

The reworked 4.4-litre twin-turbo features new turbochargers and fuel injectors compared to the outgoing F10 M5’s powerplant.

While the 6.6-litre twin-turbo V12 from the BMW 760i (and shared with Rolls-Royce) would fit under the 8 Series’ bonnet, it’s been deemed insufficiently sporty to meet M division’s lofty performance requirements. The M8 is likely to share the same switchable all-wheel-drive system as the 2018 M5.

Interestingly, the M8 will make its official debut not on the public road but at a race track, with BMW confirming plans to enter the car in the 2018 Daytona 24 Hour in January. Built to GTE regulations, which are a slight variation on GT3, the M8 will also race at next year’s Le Mans 24 Hours, where it will compete against the Ford GT and Ferrari 488.

It’s unlikely we’ll see a roadgoing version of the M8 in Australia until later in that year, possibly even 2019.

Arriving before then will be the rest of the regular 8 Series range. Displayed in concept form at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este (pics top right), BMW is suggesting an early 2018 launch for the 8 Series, with the sleek concept previewing a shift in design language that will influence future models, with cleaner lines, pronounced rear haunches, enlarged kidney grilles, and squinty, predatory headlights.

Expect the regular 8 Series to be offered in the predictable trio of established bodystyles: Coupe, Gran Coupe and Cabriolet.

There’s no official word on engines for the 8 Series line-up, but it’s likely BMW’s current 3.0- litre turbocharged six-cylinder engine will be fitted to the entrylevel model, to potentially wear an 830i badge.

The 330kW 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 from the 650i/750i could sit above that in the mid-spec model.

Wheels understands the regular line-up will be rear-drive, with power delivered through an eightspeed automatic transmission as standard, with BMW’s xDrive allwheel- drive system an option.

From the inside out

The 8 Series concept’s interior also previews the next generation of BMW’s iDrive, with all-new switchgear, and a more driver-focused design. The system will be trickled down through BMW’s entire range.

MUNICH’S MOTHERSHIPS

507

Flagship sports models don’t come more elegant than the 3.2-litre 507. BMW lost money on every one of the 252 built, but Albrecht Graf Goertz’s sleek shape attracted buyers like Elvis, Ursula Andress and Prince Rainier of Monaco.

M1

A case study in disastrous development, the M1 was conceived for a race series that was cancelled before the M1 turned a wheel in anger. Nevertheless, it’s latterly perceived as one of the 70s’ finest supercars, with commensurate pricing.

Z8

Like the M1, the Z8 was a range-topper that didn’t set the world alight upon launch, but which is belatedly in big demand.

A beautiful, high-concept, rear-drive roadster with the 294kW V8 powerplant of an E39 M5? What’s not to like?

M8

And here’s one that got away. The stillborn M8 (1989) was built around a 6061cc V12 good for a priapic 410kW and featured a riot of carbon, Kevlar and Alcantara trick bits. Little wonder the project was canned on cost grounds.