AFTER more than a year of design studies, a concept, teaser shots and disguised prototypes, BMW has finally pulled the sheets from its resurrected 8 Series, with the unapologetically huge M850i Coupe blasting in with the most powerful non-M V8 in the company’s history.
It’s been almost 20 years since an 8 Series rolled off BMW’s production lines, but it is celebrating the return with a pair of variants headlined by the all-wheel drive M850i xDrive that pushes the company’s 4.4-litre twin turbo V8 to a monster 390kW and 750Nm – more than the 2005 E60 M5’s savage 5.0-litre atmo V10.
The new hearty power output is also 60kW and 100Nm more than the 4.4-litre’s max in current non-M applications, which includes the 650i, 750i and X5/X6 50i twins, thanks to a significant engine overhaul.
Under its furlong bonnet, the M850i-spec V8 has a new alloy for its crankcase, fuel injection pressure that rises from 200 bar to 350 bar, a new ignition system, Grafal-coated pistons with uprated rings to withstand the higher boost pressures, as well as optimised conrods, bearing shells, head gaskets and timing gear.
With all-paw traction, the 8 Series flagship can sprint to 100km/h from a standstill in just 3.7 seconds and uses a lighter version of the company’s eight-speed automatic transmission to pipe power to the road, with wider-spread ratios to take advantage of the Eight’s broad torque spread.
Enthusiastic drivers that like to handle more have the option of steering wheel paddles, several Driving Experience Control modes and a launch control function.
A second 840d xDrive model looks after the efficiency-focused end of the range with a 3.0-litre diesel that pumps out 235kW/680Nm. Zero-to-hundred is handled in 4.9 seconds, yet it still manages a claimed fuel economy figure of as little as 5.9 litres per 100km under ECE testing.
BMW Australia is not yet ready to divulge exact local specifications and details, beyond the basic confirmation that the 8 Series will be making an appearance here at some point in 2019. It’s likely only the petrol-powered M850i will be coming, given Australia’s low demand for diesel sportscars.
It almost goes without saying that a new range-topping M8 will join the ranks at some point in the future – defining another first for BMW.
BMW says the M850i’s sound keeps the promises made by its looks. At the back end, twin trapezoidal tail pipes are flap-controlled to provide “an impressive soundtrack” when opened, or civilised docility when cruising. Layered over the top of the exhaust sonics are the turbo’s electronically-controlled dump valves, which have been engineered to be clearly audible as well.
Its coupe profile measures in at 4843mm long – more than a Bentley Continental GT – and uses BMW’s proprietary Carbon Core construction, which adds the stiffness and strength of carbonfibre while cutting weight.
Other exotic materials help cut weight, including magnesium, aluminium (both in the suspension and body structure) and lightweight steels. Unladen weight is 1890kg – not bad for a near five-metre big coupe.
The car was developed in parallel with the M8 GTE race car, and with plenty of laps at the challenging Nurburgring Nordschleife, BMW says the 8 Series has serious circuit potential.
Front suspension is double wishbone while a five-link system looks after the rear, both augmented by BMW’s Adaptive M variable damper tech and complemented by high-stiffness springs for body control and roll resistance. Active anti-roll bars are also available optionally.
More driving modes are available for the adaptive suspension, tied into engine response and steering sensitivity, while the rear wheels can steer up to 2.5 degrees which ‘considerably enhances both the agility and cornering dynamics’ says BMW.
M-Sport iron brake discs measure 395mm housed in 20-inch wheels with wider rubber at the back axle. The diesel gets 18-inch wheels.
As you would expect from a bruising high-performance BMW coupe, tech and luxury features feature heavily.
The 8 Series cabin introduces a new Active Cockpit full-digital instrument cluster, similar in approach to Audi’s similarly named Virtual Cockpit, a 7.0-inch screen and 16 percent larger head-up display are standard, almost every surface is covered in leather including the standard multifunction seats and even the gear selector lever, iDrive wheel and start button in glass.
Housed in the slimmest headlights to ever grace a BMW are Laserlight diodes (indicated by blue inserts) that project a beam up to 600 metres. There’s more light fantastic features at the back with LED clusters that illuminate with a distinctive L-shaped graphic.
Comfort and entertainment system highlights include a Harman Kardon sound system, an optional Bowers and Wilkins Diamond system, piped LED multicolour ambient cabin lighting, wireless device charging and over-the-air software updates.
Driver assistance and safety systems get just as good a look in with adaptive cruise control, lane change, lane departure, multi-view manoeuvring cameras, cross-traffic, wrong-way traffic and turn warnings, AEB, side collision protection and vehicle-to-vehicle hazard warnings from other BMWs in the area equipped with the same system.