Home: Motoring > New range topping M model to offer over 440kW and three different body styles

BMW M8 on track for 2019 unveil

From:Greg Kable 2018-11-09 08:00:01

Lightly disguised prototypes of BMW M performance car division’s upcoming M8 flagship have hit the race track as engineers set about fine-tuning its chassis and driver assistant systems in the latest round of testing for the luxuriously equipped two-door.  

Set to rival the likes of the Bentley Continental GT, Porsche Panamera Turbo and Aston Martin DB11, the new four-wheel drive M model has now entered a final phase development ahead of a planned public debut at the Frankfurt motor show next September.

Set to crown the newly-resurrected 8-series line-up, the M8 will be sold with the choice of three different bodystyles in a move that will significantly boost the number of dedicated BMW M models.

The first to reach Chinese showrooms will be the M8 coupe pictured here testing at the Estoril circuit in Portugal earlier this month. It will be followed by the M8 convertible that is set for launch during the latter half of 2019, with a four-door M8 GranCoupe also confirmed for launch during the first half of 2020.

The M8 is powered by the same V8 petrol engine as the M5, and as with its four-door sibling, the longitudinally mounted twin-turbocharged 4.4-litre unit is planned to be offered in two different states of tune.

In standard M8 guise, the 90-degree engine will be tuned to deliver more than 440kW, according to BMW M development boss, Dirk Häcker. Although not yet confirmed, a more powerful M8 Competition is also planned to join the line-up offering up to 485kW through various tweaks to its induction system, including an increase in turbocharger boost pressure.

By comparison, the current range-topping 8-series model, the M850i xDrive, runs a less heavily tuned version of BMW’s 4.4-litre V8 petrol engine delivering 390kW.

BMW has not divulged any official performance figures, but Häcker suggests the M8 will significantly undercut the M850i xDrive’s claimed 0-100km/h of 3.7sec. Combined cycle fuel consumption at this time in the development process, meanwhile, is put at 10.7L/100km.

In a move mirroring that of the latest M5 and M850i xDrive, the M8 receives a standard eight-speed torque converter equipped gearbox as well as fully variable xDrive four-wheel drive system and electronically controlled M-differential at the rear. A so-called M Dynamic mode allows the driver to active a rear-wheel drive mode when the new car’s dynamic stability control system is turned off.

Similarly, the suspension is a development of the double wishbone and multi-link system used by the M5. However, the M8 boasts a shorter wheelbase and wider tracks than its sedan sibling. It also gets added stiffening measures within the body structure in a move that increases its rigidity over the M850i.

Häcker confirms the initial new two-door coupe model receives its own specific suspension tuning, with tauter springs and firmer dampers than the M850i. It also gets revised bushes and roll bars.

“We’ve focused a lot on body control. It corners very flat and with very little movement. You sit a lot lower than in the M5, so it feels quite a bit different to drive,” says the BMW development boss.

Häcker also confirms the new M8’s centre of gravity is significantly lower than that of the M5 and confirms it boasts a perfect 50:50 front-to-rear distribution of weight, in part through the adoption of a 12-volt lithium-ion battery, which weighs significantly less than the lead-acid battery used in standard 8-series models.

Despite the focus on dynamics, BMW M is confident the M8 will also successfully fulfil the role of long-distance grand tourer. “It’s quite firm in sport, but the inclusion of adaptive damping control means we can offer customers greater compliance with a comfort mode as well,” says Häcker of the big coupe’s ride quality.

Editor:Greg Kable