WORLD PREMIERE: BMW 8 Series — Making a Comeback

8-Series, News | June 15th, 2018 by 99
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It’s back. It’s here. It’s real. The second-generation of the BMW 8 Series has finally arrived, after years of rumors, speculation and sneaky spy photos, …

It’s back. It’s here. It’s real. The second-generation of the BMW 8 Series has finally arrived, after years of rumors, speculation and sneaky spy photos, the final production car has finally been revealed. It’s been a long time coming, though, as the first-generation of the 8 Series died off in 1999. So it took almost two decades but it’s been worth the wait because this new 8 Series is a stunner.

But the 8 Series nameplate isn’t the only thing making a comeback with this new model. BMW as a brand seems to be making a comeback of its own as well. For the past few years, BMW seemed to have been straying further and further from the values that made so many enthusiasts fall in love with it. However, BMW has been showing steady progress back to those brand values with some of its recent models, such as the X3 M40i and M5. However, the 8 Series seems to be the culmination of BMW’s efforts to return the brand to its former glory, as it’s not only going to be the brand’s best looking car, and possibly its best driving car, but also its flagship. The Bavarians are finally back to making a proper flagship, a car that acts as a beacon for the brand’s values.

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The 8 Series is going to be built on BMW’s CLAR architecture and it’s going to be lighter, sharper and more dynamic than the 6 Series Coupe it replaces. A lot of that has to do with its Carbon Core technology, which gives the 8 Series some carbon fiber in its chassis structure, keeping the weight down while also increasing structural rigidity. That will help it be sharper and more agile when the roads get twisty. Though, we already knew that. What you really want to know is just how good looking it is.

BMW 8 Series Exterior Design

The BMW 8 Series Concept debuted last summer and it shocked so many enthusiasts with its stunning looks. Fans couldn’t wait to see what the final production car looked like. Though there were some doubts that the final car’s looks would stray too far from what made the Concept so pretty, as many BMW designs have fallen flat when compared to their concept designs. The 8 Series is different, though. It’s fantastic looking.

While it isn’t as wildly beautiful or as stunning as the Concept, it simply can’t be. It still needs to be a road-legal car with impact zones, crumple zones, airbags in every nook and cranny and meet modern safety regulations. So any hope that the Concept could be given some real turn signals and made road legal is misguided. Having said that, this 8 Series is about as close as you’re going to get to the Concept in a road-legal production car. And it looks truly pretty.

In fact, it might be the best looking BMW in ages. It’s up there with the brand’s best, such as the BMW 507, Z8 and, well, the original 8 Series. It’s long, low and mean, with a long hood, short rear deck, muscular rear haunches and a low profile. It’s a proper sporty grand tourer, at least in terms of its design, and it looks more like a “BMW by Aston Martin” than a recent BMW product.

A proper GT car needs to look aggressive but also elegant. It’s not an easy balance to achieve but we think BMW has nailed it, here. At the front, its headlights are angular and angry but also pretty. The taillights may be the best looking BMW taillights I’ve ever seen, as they’re long and wide, with just a subtle L-shape incorporated into a slim housing. Its hood is heavily sculpted and its grilles are wide, giving it a low, wide and aggressive look. The key design element, though, is how the glasshouse is sharply tapered toward the rear, which leads into muscular rear haunches, making the 8 Series look both athletic and beautiful. From the rear three-quarters angle, the 8 Series is downright seductive.

BMW 8 Series Interior Design

Inside, the 8 Series sports about as outlandish an interior as you’re going to get from a BMW, in that it’s very good looking but a reserved. Though, it’s appropriately sporty and elegant. The 8 Series isn’t a luxury car, remember. It’s luxurious, sure, but it’s main goal is to be a sporty GT car and this interior fits that well. The waterfall effect of the center stack looks looks great and its simple, uncluttered design allows the driver to stay focused on driving, as it lacks distracting whiz-bangery.

Atop that waterfall stack lies the new 12.3-inch iDrive screen that features BMW’s latest iDrive 7.0 technology. The screen is touchscreen compatible but iDrive retains a physical rotary control dial on the center console. That rotary dial is also new, with a knurled aluminum rim that looks far more premium than the current plastic one. Much like the new BMW X5, the 8 Series features a Start/Stop button on the center console and a new shift lever which is made from crystal.

Ahead of the steering wheel also lies BMW’s new digital instrument panel, dubbed BMW Live Cockpit. It looks very good, very unique. While Audi’s Virtual Cockpit might be a bit flashier and maybe more exciting, with its massive navigation screen and flashy graphics, this looks very cool and we can’t wait to play around with it. It also looks much better than the sort of fixed digital gauges that are on other BMWs, such as the current 5 Series.

There’s also lovely fluidity to this cabin, with the door panels and door trim almost seamlessly merging with the leather and trim of the dashboard. Everything flows well and is simple, uncluttered. So it’s handsome and elegant but also easy on the eyes. Some might bemoan its lack of flash, especially compared to something like the new Aston Martin Vantage or the Mercedes-AMG S63 Coupe. However, those cars have a lot of busyness in their cabins, which, despite both being very pretty inside, can be too fussy sometimes, the Vantage especially. So it might not be the most thrilling interior but I think customers will learn to love and appreciate its elegant simplicity.

BMW 8 Series Design Sketches

Powertrains

At launch, there will be two models available — the BMW 840d xDrive and the more exciting BMW M850i xDrive. The former will get a 3.0 liter turbocharged inline-six diesel that makes 320 hp and 501 lb-ft of torque. The use of a diesel engine is a bit odd in this uber-premium market but that straight-six diesel actually makes a bit of sense for a grand touring car, as it offers effortless, quiet surges of torque while also delivering decent fuel economy. So you can cross continents while sipping less fuel.

Though, you’re not excited about a diesel-powered 8 Series, are you? You want to know about the angry one, the BMW M850i. Well, it’s the angry one until the M8 eventually debuts. Until then, though, the M850i is the big man on campus. It will also be the only model available in North America at launch, though expect the M8 and a potential 840i with BMW’s B58 inline-six engine.

The BMW M850i is the one you want to hear about, though, with its newly revised 4.4 liter twin-turbocharged V8 engine. That engine makes 523 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque and is mated to an eight-speed automatic, which sends power to a newly revised xDrive all-wheel drive system and a rear-wheel steer system. According to BMW, the M850i can nail 60 mph in 3.6 seconds, which is right on par with other cars in its segment. For instance, the Aston Martin DB11 V8 takes 3.7 seconds with a bit less power, the Mercedes-AMG GT S takes 3.5 seconds and the W12-powered Bentley Continental GT taking 3.3 seconds. So the M850i is right where it needs to be in terms of performance.

BMW has also gone to extensive lengths to improve the sound of this newly revised V8. It sounds much more muscular than the V8 in the BMW M550i or even the full-on M5. Noise has been something fans have been complaining about with modern BMWs and the Bavarians have been listening. So with this new 8 Series, they’ve insured that it packs a sportier, more aggressive noise than before. And it does. We’ve heard glimpses of it and it does sounds significantly better than what we’ve heard from BMW recently. So that’s incredibly encouraging and we can’t wait to hear what the BMW M8 sounds like.

BMW 8 Series Highlights

As far as driving dynamics go, BMW wanted the new 8 Series to be a proper sports car. While many BMW fans mourned the death of the 6 Series Coupe, as it was the prettiest BMW on sale until its eventual demise, it was never the sharpest handling Bavarian. BMW wanted this new 8 Series to not only be better than the 6er it replaces but better than any other BMW. No, it won’t be the scalpel that the M2 is but it will likely be the most enjoyable BMW to drive.

With its double-wishbone front suspension and five-link rear suspension, BMW has specifically tuned its suspension kinematics and elastokinematics to be sportier and more engaging than its other more recent offerings. It’s been designed to be more agile, dynamic and, most importantly, fun. Torsion struts at the front axle and a load-bearing strut at the rear axle optimize stiffness and the connection of suspension components to the bodywork. It also gets independent rubber bearings, to increase camber stiffness, and damping plates at the rear axle. BMW has given the 8 Series as much negative camber as possible, thanks to specifically-designed wheel carriers and wishbones, so as to increase cornering loads and speeds.

From what we’ve heard from pre-production drives, the new BMW 8 Series is a delight to drive. Its steering is accurate and full of about as much feel as you can hope for from a modern sports car, its suspension is expertly judged and its handling dynamics are some of the most impressive from a BMW in a very long time. This was the BMW M850i, mind you, but we don’t expect a significant drop off in handling to the 840d. After having driven the new BMW X3 M40i and M5, we can honestly say that we expect the 8 Series to be the most enjoyable Bavarian to drive, as BMW has seemed to remember how to make cars with that near-perfect chassis balance again.

BMW 8 Series Sunset Orange

With the first generation 8 Series, BMW had made a car that was great looking, incredibly impressive and extremely desirable. The problem with it was the fact that it never lived up to its potential, nor the hype that comes with being the halo car of a brand like BMW. It was a good car but not a great car at the time and being good doesn’t justify being the most expensive, most premium car in BMW’s lineup. This new BMW 8 Series has the chance to right its predecessor’s wrongs, to be the halo car it never was. And, judging from everything we’ve seen and heard, we have no doubts that it will succeed in that endeavor.

This new BMW 8 Series is as stunner. It looks superb, with its muscular shape, sharp lines and aggressive stance. Depending on the occasion, it’s either a supermodel in a form-fitting dress or James Bond in a perfectly-fitting tux. And that’s the beauty of the 8 Series. It’s capable of being both a supremely luxurious and comfortable grand touring car, able to cross continents with style, grace and, of course, speed. However, when one of those trans-continental roads gets twisty, it’s capable of being a proper sports car, able to tackle back canyon roads with precision, grace and enthusiasm.

BMW hasn’t had such a car in ages. While pretty, both modern generations of the 6 Series coupe were much like the original 8 Series, in that they lacked the dynamics that made BMWs truly special. They were good, just not special. This new 8 Series seems like it could finally be that halo car, that beacon of light calling enthusiasts to the brand, showing off the very best of what BMW can do. This new BMW 8 Series seems to be making a comeback, not just for the nameplate but for the brand itself.

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