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BMW 8 Series tunes up for launch

Toughen up: BMW’s new 8 Series coupe might be closely related to the 7 Series, but the German car-maker says it is developing it into proper sportscar in both looks and performance.

New BMW 8 Series to be a ‘genuine sportscar’ when it arrives in late 2018


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25 Jan 2018

BMW has stepped up its teaser program for its new born-again 8 Series coupe by revealing a slew of fresh images of the camouflaged car in Italy where it is undergoing final chassis tuning and endurance tests ahead of the car’s release later this year.

The company has also sprung a dusky rear teaser shot of the two-door luxury car, revealing curved LED tail-lights and twin big-bore chrome-tipped exhaust tips.

With production due to start in the second half of this year and sales in Europe locked in for about November, BMW Group Australia has its fingers crossed for a late 2018 or early 2019 launch in Australia.

The new 8 Series revives the nameplate after an absence of almost two decades.

The first-generation 8 Series was built between 1989 and 1999.

BMW says the images released overnight give a strong indication of the coupe’s “typical sportscar proportions”.

Based on BMW’s modular CLAR platform – short for Cluster Architecture – the 8 Series shares its underpinnings with a raft of other BMW models, including the 5 Series, 7 Series, X3 and next X5 and 3 Series.

It will be most closely related to the new 7 Series, sharing powertrains ranging from four-cylinder and inline six petrol and diesel, V8, plug-in hybrid and – eventually – V12.

And of course, an M8 using the company’s 441kW twin-turbo 4.4-litre and xDrive all-wheel-drive system is being developed in parallel with conventional 8 Series variants. It can be expected in 2019.

Effectively, the 8 Series replaces the 6 Series coupe that has gone out of production to make way for the new beast. An 8 Series convertible is also under development for launch in the next year or so when it replaces the 6 Series drop-top.

While the 6 Series was more of a boulevard cruiser, the emphasis on the new 8 Series’ sportiness appears to indicate an attempt by BMW to give the replacement a harder edge as it goes after Mercedes-Benz’s S-Class coupe.

The design draws its flat, stretched lines from the Concept 8 Series shown by BMW at the annual Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este in northern Italy last year.

Now, the prototypes are back in Italy at the high-speed Aprilia proving ground near Rome where the car’s driving dynamics is being optimised for what BMW describes as “high-friction coefficient surfaces”.

With Germany smothered in winter snow recently, Italy also provides a clear run for chassis engineers on Aprilia’s high-speed loop – one of the fastest in the world with high banked bends on its 4.0km course.

BMW board member for development and research Klaus Froelich said the company was right on target with the 8 Series development.

“The vehicle dynamics values already achieved are absolutely impressive,” he said. “Our customers and fans can look forward to a genuine sportscar.”

While BMW has not said when or where it will reveal the final production version, car fans will have a foretaste of the 8 Series when BMW Motorsport debuts its M8 GTE racecar in the Daytona 24-Hour in Florida this weekend.

The team will follow up with an appearance at the Le Mans 24-Hour in France in June.

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