BMW refrained from commenting on the claim when contacted by Autocar. Nevertheless, Autocar understands that the brand's Geneva reveal will foreshadow a summertime launch for the production 8 Series, which is due on roads this November. The M version is due next year.
The high-performance M8, which spawned a racing car that's already competed in this year's Daytona 24 Hours, will sit above the regular 8 Series and use BMW's twin-turbocharged 4.4-litre V8 engine. It will produce around 600bhp, placing it above the latest 592bhp M5 and giving it more firepower than the Mercedes-AMG S 63 Coupé, which has 577bhp.
Our spy photographers have captured both hard and soft-top versions testing in public, showing the large air intakes, quad exhausts and more aggressive styling that the M model flaunts to illustrate the added potency compared with the rest of the range.
M division president Frank van Meel said of the new line-up: “The conception and development of the standard BMW 8 Series and the M model run in parallel. 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. It all flows into a driving experience that bears the familiar BMW M hallmarks and satisfies our customers’ most exacting requirements.”
“We have been involved with the wider 8 Series project from the very beginning," van Meel told Autocar. "Our challenge as engineers was actually to ensure that the standard car wasn’t too sporty for its customers, because we wanted the M8 to feel like a proper step up. Also, because not all 8 Series customers want an M car.”
“For now, I can’t confirm that,” said van Meel, “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 GTE racing car will next compete as part of a factory BMW effort in this year's Le Mans 24 Hours endurance race, marking the brand's first factory effort there in six years.
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 Mercedes-AMG S63 Coupé kicks off at around £131,000, so the M8 should remain competitive with its Stuttgart rival.
— Autocar (@autocar) May 27, 2017
Additional reporting by Matt Saunders and Sam Sheehan