In the minutes before the start of the Nürburgring 24 Hour race, BMW's M division showed a camouflaged sneak peak of how its version of the range-topping BMW coupe will look. For anybody thinking the Concept 8 Series was a just-rolling styling exercise, think again. It drove on Thursday and yesterday under its own power on the shores of Lago di Como, and M insists it's been working on engineering the M8 for years.
"The conception and development of the standard BMW 8 Series and the M model run in parallel," BMW M's President, Frank van Meel, says. "The future BMW M8 will build on the genes of the 8 Series and augment its DNA with added track ability and generous extra portions of dynamic sharpness, precision and agility."
Those customers will need to access to far more disposable income than M6 Coupe buyers, though, because the M8 is being moved upstream to fill the void between the most expensive BMW 760Li and the cheapest Rolls-Royce, the Wraith.
It's pitched to take on cars like the Mercedes-AMG S63 Coupe and Bentley's Continental GT, while M also has hopes of conquesting customers from Aston Martin, Porsche and Ferrari's GT cars.
The M8 harks to the regular M product lineup with bigger air intakes in the front apron, massive brakes and a quad-pipe sports exhaust. And it's not the only M on the way to market, according to BMW board of member for sales and marketing, Ian Robertson.
"At the other end of the spectrum, we are also working on an addition to the M family," he says. "There is a new M coming later this year [the M5], but next year there will be an additional M product [the M8]. Will it be faster than M5? You'll have to wait and see, but if you look at the logic on how we do these things, the M8 will be a great sporty car. We will position the car appropriately. You can expect it to be appropriately positioned across every possible criteria."
While neither Robertson or van Meel would confirm the car's powertrain, it's unlikely to be V12 powered, due to the weight hanging over the car's front end, and while BMW has a 4.0-liter V8, the most likely candidate would be a version of the M5's upgraded 4.4-liter, twin-turbo V8. When that car arrives in showrooms later this year, it will have all-wheel drive, and eight-speed automatic transmission and a central processing unit to govern it all.
While there's a chance the M8 could also receive some electrified boosting technology from the i division, sources suggest a 0-62-mph sprint time in the low three-second bracket should be expected.
While it will be the first production M8, it's not the first M8 to be built by M, which crammed the McLaren F1's 6.0-liter, naturally aspirated V12 in a 1990 8 Series Coupe. While it remained a one-off prototype, it did carry M8 badges on its trunklid. BMW's M division will also be the basis of a new GT Le Mans racer, the M8 GTE, which should debut at next January's Daytona 24 Hour race.
"The BMW M8 GTE development program for our Le Mans comeback is in full swing," BMW Motorsport Director, Jens Marquardt, says. "We can't reveal any pictures yet, but I can promise you that the BMW M8 GTE will look spectacular. We are planning an initial roll-out for the first half of this year and are looking at giving the car its race debut in the Daytona 24 Hours in late January 2018."