Following the reveal of its all-new 8-Series coupe, the replacement for the 6-Series, BMW has continued with its new product offensive with the debut its new 600+bhp M8 flagship. Revealed during the M Festival held at the Nürburgring 24 Hour, BMW confirmed that the M8’s immanent release at the end of 2018 is due to the company’s return to GTE racing, including a return to Le Mans, on which the new race car will be based.
The new M8 will replace the current M6 coupe and convertible models, and will share its drivetrain with the new forthcoming M5. This means a ‘new generation’ version of the familiar 4.4-litre V8 bi-turbo as currently installed in the current M6 with a peak power output expected to be above that of the 607bhp of the new M5. Drive will be via the same 8-speed ZF sourced automatic gearbox developed for the new M5, with the same active all-wheel drive system also carried over and offering the same four- and two-wheel configurations via the car’s iDrive driving modes. The M DCT gearbox from the current generation of M cars won’t be offered.
The next generation xDrive all-wheel drive system destined for the M8 may seem like a backwards step in terms of driver involvement, but the intelligent, and crucially switchable, system will apportion only the relevant power to the front wheels to ensure the car doesn’t just spin the considerable surplus of power away through its Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres. However, thanks to an intelligent centre diff that can lock the M8 in rear-wheel drive mode BMW’s ultimate driving machine can still be driven as 600+bhp rear-wheel drive coupe.
We will have to wait for confirmed performance figures, but with a dry weight expected to be in the region of 1800kg (the M8 will feature a number of carbon-fibre panels such as the roof to keep the weight down), expect the 0-62mph to be close to 3.0-seconds and the top speed to be governed to 155mph with the option to raise it to 186mph.
Aesthetically, the prototype in the official pictures provides a good look at what the production version of the 8-series will look like. Unlike the 8 GT concept, the prototype hints at a subtler shape, with smaller wheels, a higher nose but an overall smaller footprint. Although the actual bodywork is clad in detail-hiding material, it is also noticeable that the large scalloped intakes front and rear have been minimised. Thankfully, the curved rear haunch and coke bottle hips of the concept are still visible, and with the advances in contemporary lighting, the headlights should also remain faithful to the concept with the very latest LED technology.
Regardless of styling details though, the M8 will doubtless be the most capable GT car in the company’s history, with a penchant to give the forthcoming Bentley Continental GT and Aston Martin DB11 a serious headache in the process. We expect the M8 to wear a similar six-figure price tag as its British rivals, too. BMW say that the GTE class race car derived from the M8 will be unveiled later this year before it’s entry inaugural race at the Daytona 24 in January 2018.