After a nearly two decade-long hiatus, BMW has brought back one of its most sought-after nameplates in the 2019 8 Series, an ultra luxury sport coupe sharing a badge with a car last produced for the 1999 model year.
Like other BMW models with the number 8 in their names -- Z8 and i8, for examples -- the 8 Series boasts a “high-ranking status” within the product range, according to the manufacturer. BMW calls this car’s launch the “first component of (its) luxury segment model offensive.”
BMW will take on the Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe and various models in the Aston Martin lineup with a car that will initially come in a single 850i variant powered by a 4.4L turbo V8 boasting 523 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque.
That power will go through an eight-speed automatic transmission and standard all-wheel drive to propel the 850i to 100 km/h in a claimed 3.7 seconds.
The 8 Series has a rear-biased AWD setup that sends all power to the rear axle until more traction is needed. The rear wheels also handle some steering duties thanks to a rear-wheel steering system that can order up to 2.5 degrees of steering angle. At speeds up to 72 km/h, they move in opposite direction to the fronts to boost cornering agility, while at higher velocities they move in the same direction to aid stability in high-speed lane changes.
Standard at the rear axle is a differential lock to help direct power to the slower-turning wheel, while optional handling aids include active roll stabilization that uses electric motors on the sway bars to compensate for body roll in corners.
Back to that transmission, which communicates with the car’s standard navigation system to tailor gear changes to the road ahead: if there’s a tight turn coming up that the driver will have to slow down for, the transmission will hold its current gear or downshift in anticipation to provide engine braking. The gearbox will also hold a gear between two successive turns so that an enthusiastic driver can maintain as much momentum as possible.
Between all this car’s performance tech and what the manufacturer calls a “wide array of distinctive optional extras” conceived to create an environment of “sheer luxury,” BMW wants the 8 Series to occupy a niche where it can compete both with grand tourers like those Aston Martin cars and all-out sports cars like the Audi R8.
Especially notable is the fact that BMW developed this car alongside the M8 GTE race car, which suggests to us that a performance-oriented M8 production model is a near certainty: you know BMW will not want to leave the Mercedes-Benz AMG S 63 without direct competition.
As we write this, BMW has yet to publish fuel consumption estimates for the 850i, but we anticipate they’ll be similar to the 650i xDrive’s ratings of 14.7/9.6 L/100 km (city/highway).