By Michael Hines
The revival of the 8 Series Coupe was one of the worst-kept secrets in the automotive industry, and on May 11, BMW made the news official. In a press release, the German automaker revealed a teaser image for the new luxury grand tourer and said that it would hit the U.S. in 2018. Before that the company will release a concept car at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este in Lake Como, Italy. The concept will be shown on May 26 and, in the words of the BMW press release, it will feature “uncompromising dynamics and contemporary luxury – the essence of a modern BMW coupe.”
Harald Krüger, CEO of the BMW Group, said the new 8 Series Coupe would “build on our tradition of luxurious sports coupes and add a genuine dream car to our line-up – a slice of pure automotive fascination.” Despite falling behind Mercedes-Benz in the luxury car sales race BMW’s CEO believes that reviving such an iconic nameplate will help its push to win back the sales crown.
“The 8 Series Coupe will underpin our claim to leadership in the luxury segment. I can tell you today that this will be a true luxury sports coupe,” Krüger said.
The revival of the 8 Series Coupe means many things. For starters, the 6 Series Coupe seems all but officially dead. This was confirmed recently when Road & Track broke the news that production of the 6 Series Coupe ended silently in February; a BMW spokesperson later confirmed the report. BMW hasn’t yet issued an official statement on the demise of the two-door 6 Series. It still builds the 6 in both Convertible and Gran Coupe guises. However, the writing seems to be on the wall. The 8 Series Coupe and 6 Series Coupe would be too close in size and too far in price to justify the continued existence of the former. That being said, the model itself seems like it has a chance to live on. Keeping the Convertible and Gran Coupe trims around seems like a smart move. BMW could use a convertible bigger than the 4 Series and more affordable than the inevitable 8 Series droptop. As for the 6 Series Gran Coupe, it could be positioned as a sportier alternative to the 5 Series.
The new 8 Series will be built on the same platform as the 7 Series, BMW’s CLAR architecture which is designed to be lightweight and modular. Take the word “lightweight” with a grain of salt, though. The new 8 Series Coupe will be a massive grand tourer with twin-turbo V8 and V12 engines providing the oomph; a twin-turbo V6 is also a possibility. An M8 seems inevitable as BMW is hell-bent on expanding its M line of performance cars. Expect a cabin filled with luxury and tech, tech which may include a more fully fleshed-out version of BMW’s recently introduced iDrive gesture controls.
In 2013, BMW showed the Gran Lusso Coupe Concept at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este. That concept was stunning, no doubt about it. But it also looked more like a two-door 7 Series than a standalone 8 Series Coupe, as time revealed when the new range-topping sedan debuted in 2015. At this year’s Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este expect a concept car with a sportier look, as evidenced by the ridiculously raked roof and massive rear fenders on BMW’s official 8 Series Coupe teaser image.
It’s fair to ask why BMW is reviving the 8 Series Coupe during a time of crazy crossover and SUV sales. The answer is two-fold. First, the automaker needs to compete with Mercedes-Benz in every imaginable niche. That means building a rival to the two-door S-Class. The good news for the Bavarians is that they will have nostalgia on their side. The 8 Series has been out of production since 1999 but it’s still fondly remembered by enthusiasts, with older models managing to turn heads whenever they’re spotted on the street. It won’t sell in volume but each individual unit sold will bring in a tidy profit. The 8 Series will share its engines and platform with other vehicles in the BMW Group which will keep development costs down and profit margins high. For BMW this move is a no-brainer. Let’s see how Mercedes responds, or if it even cares, and if Audi will consider getting into the GT segment now that two of its top rivals have done so.