BMW is testing its M8 performance model at the Nürburgring
Engineers are driving both the coupé and convertible on circuit
Both cars have been spotted in recent weeks
Showing that they'll share near-identical designs
Only the roof and bootlid is unique to the coupé
Power will come from BMW's twin-turbocharged 4.4-litre V8
Producing around 600bhp
An all-wheel drive model with heavy technical relation to the M5 is expected
This should enable rapid straight-line perforamance
BMW's two M8 models will later be joined by a third
It was previewed by a concept at the Geneva motor show
The M8 range will eventually include a coupé, convertible and Gran Coupé
BMW revealed a new concept for its upcoming M8 at the Geneva motor show
The concept is a four-door variant
It previews a Gran Coupé model that will be more practical than the regular coupé
It's expected to be launched alongside its two-door sibling in 2019
As spy pictures show, the M8 is also due in convertible form
It will use a folding soft-top, as shown by development cars
The M8 will be the M division's flagship and its most powerful model
It will use the twin-turbocharged V8 engine of the M5…
…but send around 600bhp to all four wheels
Much of the car's running gear will be shared with the M5…
…meaning the M8 should flaunt similar levels of dynamic sparkle
BMW's all-wheel drive system has been engineered with a rear bias…
…in order to retain most of the adjustability of a rear-wheel drive set-up
All-wheel drive is thought to be essential in this section of the performance car segment…
…because of its traction-boosting ability and rapid off-the-line launch times
Pictured during a testing stint at the Nürburgring, the design differences of the M8 coupé and convertible are visible. Aside from their differing tops, the variants also get their own bootlids to create different silhouettes.
A four-door Gran Coupé is also due for production at a later stage; it was previewed at the recent Geneva motor show with the M8 Gran Coupé concept. The production car's look is expected to be toned down so that it appears largely similar to its two-door siblings, but with a raised rear roofline to offer more head room inside.
Building on the base of the new 8 Series range, which will appear on public roads in November, the M8 models will use BMW's twin-turbocharged 4.4-litre V8 engine. We know this because the racing M8 that competed in the Daytona 24 Hours earlier this year was equipped with this powerplant.
Without motorsport restrictors to worry about, the finished road car is expected to produce 600bhp, placing it above the latest 592bhp M5 and giving it more firepower than the Mercedes-AMG S63 Coupé, which has 577bhp.
M division president Frank van Meel revealed that development of the M8 was started at the same time as the regular 8 Series and that their programmes ran in parallel. He said the M8 builds "on the genes of the 8 Series and augments its DNA with added track ability and generous extra portions of dynamic sharpness, precision and agility".
Van Meel added: "It all flows into a driving experience that bears the familiar BMW M hallmarks and satisfies our customers’ most exacting requirements.”
He said that BMW's engineers set out "to ensure that the standard car wasn’t too sporty for its customers" because the M division "wanted the M8 to feel like a proper step up".
"Also, because not all 8 Series customers want an M car," van Meel continued.
“For now, I can’t confirm that,” van Meel said of the speculation, “except to say that we have watched the luxury sports coupé market closely and we see lots of four-wheel-drive cars within it already. We have also already proven that our M xDrive four-wheel drive system doesn’t adversely affect the handling purity of the new M5. There’s nothing to fear from four-wheel drive.
“We certainly want to make a statement with this car. It will sit at the very top of our model range and, for now, we have no confirmed plans for any series production model above it, so we understand it must have a specification suiting its position in our hierarchy.”
The M8 will carry a heavy premium over the standard 8 Series, so a starting price surpassing that of even the i8 supercar is certain; the S63 Coupé kicks off at around £131,000, so the M8 should remain competitive with its Stuttgart rival.
BMW will also use the M8 GTE, the racing version of the car, to compete as part of a factory effort in this year's Le Mans 24 Hours endurance race. It will be the brand's first factory entry there in six years.
— Autocar (@autocar) May 27, 2017
Additional reporting by Matt Saunders and Sam Sheehan