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BMW Brightens Up Le Mans With The New 8-Series Coupe


The coupe will be the flag bearer of the German brand and will debut in November this year

 

BMW 8 series coupe revealed at Le Mans

BMW made it’s biggest reveal of the year at the most iconic endurance race of all time - the Le Mans, or the 24 Heures du Mans, as the purists like to call. The Munich-based carmaker says that they couldn’t have found a better venue than the World Endurance Championship (WEC) race weekend to unveil the all-new 8 Series coupe. That’s because BMW’s latest flagship was developed alongside its M8 GTE  race car. BMW also maintains that the 8 Series coupe is extremely dynamic, so that so that they’ve used the word a total of 38 times in their press note. Sorry, we couldn’t help ourselves.

Seriously? Act mature man. 

BMW 8 series rear

Okay, okay. Let’s run through the car then. For starters, it is quite a looker. It features a long contoured bonnet with a rather rounded off rear windscreen along with slim windows. These come together to give it a hunkered down and purposeful look. The headlamps are the ‘slimmest’ ever fitted to a BMW and come with optional laser lamp technology that is also available on the recently unveiled X5.

BMW 8 series front

 The signature kidney grille is now a one-piece element and below the rather angry looking face sit large air dams and a front spoiler that ‘accentuates the coupe’s dynamic character’ (okay, that’s the last time we’ll poke fun at BMW). The car sits of 19-inch M-spec lightweight alloy wheels that can be swapped for optional 20 inch units. It is expected to launched by November this year and will be launched in Europe first. 

What about the hardware?

BMW twin turbo V8

The 8 Series coupe will come with two engine variants to begin with - the M850i xDrive and the 840d xDrive. Obviously, the M850i is the more hardcore of the two. That M prefix speaks volumes about the Bimmer’s intent. It is powered by the same 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 that also powers the new M5 (F90). Here, the engine has been downtuned to produce 530PS between 5500-6000rpm. However, the torque remains the same at 750Nm, which is available from as low as 1800rpm. This means the 8 Series will a very strong mid-range quintessential of a long distance grand tourer. The engine is mated to an 8-speed ZF-sourced automatic gearbox and an rear-biased all-wheel drive (AWD) system. BMW has also fitted the M850i with a rear locking differential that’ll help you coax a slide when the mood sets in. The petrol-powered grand tourer will be capable of hitting 100kmph from standstill in just 3.7 seconds. 

BMW 8 series coupe rear

The 840d, on the other hand, gets a more conservative 3.0-litre twin-turbo straight six that dishes out 320PS and 680Nm of peak torque. The diesel gets the same 8-speed auto ‘box and AWD, albeit without the rear diff. However, both versions come with a double wishbone setup up front and a 5-link setup at the rear. Adaptive M suspension with electronically controlled damping and active steering will also be a part of the standard package. The options list also features active anti-roll bars. The fact that it was developed alongside the GTE Le Mans contender should make the 8 Series quite the handler.

What of the cabin and materials? 

BMW 8 series cabin

The cabin is obviously super luxurious and features some cutting edge technology like BMW’s Live Cockpit Professional with a full digital instrument cluster. What it means is that the analogue instrument cluster is now relegated to the history books and is replaced by a new digital one. The iDrive system gets touch and gesture controls as well as the traditional rotary dial. A larger HUD (head up display) has been thrown into the mix as well.

The coupe also employs lightweight materials like aluminium for the engine, wheels, doors and bonnet. Magnesium has been used for the brace tubing in the cabin while the central tunnel is made from CFRP (carbon fibre reinforced plastic). As a result, the car weighs nearly two tonnes.

Where does it slot?

BMW 8 series rear

This is the interesting bit. Currently, the sportscar category is quite polarised. On one hand you have the the 8’s chief rival – S-Class coupe – which couples a heavy engine with a soft ride and an easy going nature. It’s like a yacht on land. On the other hand, you have hardcore sports cars like the Jaguar F-type coupe. Then you also have grand tourers such as the Aston Martin DB11 and the Bentley Continental GT, but they command exorbitant amounts of money. There is nothing that bridges that gap and that is what BMW plans to do with the 8 Series coupe. A car that is as luxurious as they come but doesn’t feel like driving a marshmallow in the corners. Feel that’s not doable? Well, if they can make a 5.2 metre luxury sedan fun around corners, they can certainly handle the 8 Series.

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