Seen most recently in drop-top guise, the high-performance M8 is being tested on and around the Nürburgring. In the video below, a coupé can be seen being driven at pace. Engineers are using the time to finalise the powertrain calibration and chassis settings.
The M8 sports large air intakes, quad exhausts and more aggressive styling than the regular 8 Series to signal its added potency.
The 8 Series is set to make its debut at the Los Angeles motor show later this year before going on sale in the second half of next year, with the M8 coming shortly afterwards.
It’ll sit above the recently confirmed 8 Series, which itself was previewed by the 8 Series Concept, and will be joined by an endurance-racing counterpart, the M8 GTE. It's likely to be powered by an uprated version of the next M5's 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 engine and share the same 'M xDrive' four-wheel drive system. The production car will have M’s signature quad exhaust pipes, larger brakes and uprated air intakes, BMW announced, although further details have not been given.
M division president Frank van Meel said: “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.”
Insiders suggest the 8 Series and M8 will use the same platform as both the 7 Series and 5 Series, and that the M car will share much of the engine and drivetrain of the forthcoming four-wheel-drive M5.
“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, and some journalists have already had a chance to test that and to write as much. 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.” So expect more than the 615bhp the next M5 is likely to deliver.
The M8 GTE racing car will be given its racing debut at the Daytona 24 Hours in January next year before returning a factory BMW effort to the Le Mans 24-hour endurance race in 2018 for the first time 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