BMW has introduced the second generation of the 8 Series coupe, 20 years after the original went out of production, and it comes in with a bang … and M-designated bang.
The 2019 BMW M850i xDrive will go into production in Dingolfing, Germany (home of the 7 Series and also the original 8), with deliveries expected to start late in 2018. The new 8 Series will launch with a coupe bodystyle, and is expected to add a convertible and a 4-door Gran Coupe at a later date.
The directive from management was to provide a thrilling experience with the performance, precision and poise of a flagship luxury sports coupe. The homologous 8 Series street car was developed in parallel with the M8 GTE race car that is currently proving its mettle on racetracks around the world.
It starts with the low-slung long-hood design that stretches out the profile. Slim pillars at the front and rear of the cabin emphasize its distinctive “double-bubble” shape. It’s positioned over a long wheelbase and wide track to expand the interior room, smooth out the ride and spruce up the lateral dynamics.
At the front, LED headlights with BMW LaserLight technology are the slimmest headlights of any BMW to date. They were designed to work as daytime driving lights as well as providing the low and high beams for low light conditions, so they could help preserve the signature look at all times. The other signature nose feature — the kidney grille — features adjustable slats to help reduce aerodynamic drag, along with other design cues such as adjustable flaps, Air Curtains with Air Breathers, and narrow mirror bases.
Inside, there’s a wide centre console to separate driver and front passenger. It houses the 8-speed Steptronic Sport transmission lever (though most shifting will take place using the steering wheel paddles), iDrive controller for infotainment functions, and the engine stop/start button.
The seat headrests are integrated into the new-design seats, though they can be adjusted four ways (fore and aft, in addition to the traditional up/down). Seats are covered in premium Merino Individual leather, with contrasting stitching. They can be optioned up to heated and climate-controlled versions. Access to the rear is provided by a leather strap that semi-electric flips the front seatback forward.
M appointments include the leather steering wheel, anthracite headliner, pedals and footrest, floor mats, illuminated door sills, and instrumentation.
The standard audio system uses 11 speakers and a digital amp, and can be upgraded to a Harman Kardon Surround Sound System with 16 speakers, and further to a Bowers & Wilkins Diamond Surround Sound System with 16-channel amplifier and an output of 1,375 watts.
But central to its M-rating is the latest generation of the 4.4-litre twin-turbo V-8 that makes 523 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque and puts out a delightful note through a flap-controlled exhaust. Zero to 100 km/h takes just under four seconds, and top speed is limited to 250 km/h.
The Driving Experience Control adjusts between sporty and less sporty modes (Sport+ and Sport, respectively) to provide different levels of throttle response, and engine output and sound, or flipped over to ECO Pro to allow the engine to “sail” when the driver lifts completely off the throttle and lets the car coast to reduce fuel consumption.
BMW’s xDrive all wheel drive system provides sure-footedness in all driving conditions and on all surfaces, while a front double wishbone and rear 5-link suspension grants predictable and enjoyable handling and comfort that are further enhanced by the standard Adaptive M suspension with electronically controlled dampers. Active Roll Stabilization is optional.
Specific equipment levels and pricing will be announced closer to the on-sale date in the fall.