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Paris show: BMW 8 Series to go rear drive

BMW confirms rear-wheel-drive 8 Series but V12 and PHEV ruled out

BMW logo5 Oct 2018

By TIM NICHOLSON in PARIS

BMW will offer more variants of its 8 Series Coupe down the track, including a lower-priced sDrive rear-wheel-drive variant, but the company has ruled out employing its brutal V12 powertrain.
 
The production coupe was revealed in June and BMW has so far confirmed it will be offered initially in 840d guise with a 235kW/680Nm 3.0-litre turbocharged six-cylinder diesel and as an M850i with a 390kW/750Nm 4.4-litre twin-turbocharged petrol V8.
 
Soon after, an M8 Coupe, Gran Coupe and Convertible will come to market, and while it is yet to be confirmed, the M versions are likely to be powered by a more powerful version of the 4.4 V8. 
 
Australian timing and variants are yet to be confirmed.
 
BMW Group vice-president of product management (luxury class) Carsten Groeber this week ruled out using the 448kW/800Nm 6.0-litre V12 petrol engine from the M760Li xDrive, which can sprint from 0-100km/h in 3.7 seconds.
 
Speaking to Australian journalists at the Paris motor show, Mr Groeber said: “Everything is possible, but we think the newly developed eight-cylinder with 590 horsepower is the perfect package. 
 
“V12 is very heavy and we have a very perfect weight distribution with this car. So the package with the V8 with those technologies with the chassis and the drivetrain makes the car a proper sportscar. In our opinion a V12 will be too heavy in the front.”
 
Mr Groeber also poured cold water on a plug-in hybrid version of the 8 Series, but would not rule it out completely. 
 
“Never say never,” he said. “There might be in the years to go. We are a learning company and as the market turns, if we need to do something we will react. But at this point in time, in 2018, the car is perfectly set up, and I think people love to have these cars.”
 
He did however confirm that a rear-wheel-drive version of the 8 Series would be offered next year.
 
“We will have something in the near future, which is also rear-wheel drive,” he said. “We have M850i with the six-cylinder diesel engine. There will be an sDrive version of it.”
 
Mr Groeber suggested that the xDrive setup in the M8 would be a version of the system found in the bahnstorming M5 sedan.
 
He added that all-wheel-drive traction was the best fit for such a powerful car.
 
“We believe xDrive is the right concept for 390kW because of traction. And you have in the setup more power on the rear axle so there is more traction always on the rear on purpose, but if you need some traction on front axle, you can have it,” he said. 
 
“All-wheel drive … is a very intelligent feature and you can deliver the force to the right wheel. And why not use this again as a support for our customers? Not everybody also is capable of handling a car like a pro.”
 
Mr Groeber said BMW benchmarked the 8 Series against a number of different offerings, but also looked to its own line-up for inspiration.
 
“We said we wanted to go for a true sportscar in our own group so there is one internal reference point. For example, we know the capabilities of an M5, and of course we want to be even better. But this is a different concept,” he said. 
 
“In terms of sportscar coupes, you know the brothers and sisters in the market like Porsche 911s, like AMG GTs, like Aston Martin Vantage and also S-Class Coupe, for example. So these cars we tried them, but we think we don’t want to copy them, we want to go for the BMW way. 
 
“And this is a different style of luxury. We don’t take a car from Porsche and say we do it like this. Porsche has its own story. And we want to be loyal to ourselves and the BMW customer expects a BMW.
 
“The car should also work in daily life, and if you go with a 911 – I don’t want to talk about competitors now – but if you go from Hamburg to Munich to Oktoberfest in a 911, it is a different sensation than an 8 Series.”
 
BMW says the 8 Series is not a replacement for the 6 Series Coupe and Gran Coupe as the new model is more closely aligned with the 7 Series, whereas the 6 was based on the previous 5 Series.
 
When asked if there was now a space in BMW’s line-up for a 5 Series-based coupe range, Mr Groeber hinted that something could be in the works. 
 
“Everything is possible,” he said. 
 
If a new 6 Series emerges – the 6 Series Gran Turismo model is essentially a liftback version of the new 5 Series – it would give BMW a rival for the Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe and Cabriolet and the Audi A7.

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