In standard M8 guise, the 90-degree engine will be tuned to deliver more than 600bhp, according to BMW M development boss Dirk Häcker. Although not yet confirmed, a more powerful M8 Competition is also planned, offering up to 650bhp through various tweaks to its induction system.
BMW has not divulged any official performance figures, but Häcker suggests the M8 will significantly undercut the current flagship M850i xDrive’s claimed 0-62mph time of 3.7sec. Combined fuel economy is put at 26.4mpg at this stage in the development process.
In a move mirroring that of the latest M5 and M850i xDrive, the M8 receives a standard eight-speed torque converter automatic gearbox as well as a variable four-wheel drive system and electronically controlled M-differential at the rear. A so-called M Dynamic mode allows the driver to activate a rear-wheel drive mode, too.
Similarly, the suspension is a development of the double wishbone and multi-link system used by the M5. However, the M8 boasts a shorter wheelbase and wider tracks than its sedan sibling. Additional body stiffening increases its rigidity over the M850i.
Häcker confirms the new two-door receives its own specific suspension tuning, revised springs, dampers, bushes and roll bars. “It corners very flat and with very little movement. You sit a lot lower than in the M5, so it feels quite a bit different to drive,” says the BMW development boss.
Häcker also confirms the new M8’s centre of gravity is significantly lower than that of the M5, and it boasts a perfect 50:50 weight distribution, in part through the adoption of a lighter lithium-ion battery.
Despite the focus on dynamics, BMW M is confident the M8 will also successfully fulfil the role of long-distance grand tourer. “It’s quite firm in sport, but the inclusion of adaptive damping control means we can offer customers greater compliance with a comfort mode as well” Häcker claims.
New BMW M8: prototype ride on track
There are certain laws of physics that suggest you should never describe a car approaching two tonnes as being truly agile. But within minutes of arriving at Portugal’s Estoril circuit for a passenger ride in a prototype M8 coupe, Dirk Häcker sets about doing just that.
As we stand in the wind swept pit lane, the head of research and development at BMW’s M performance car division takes little time in suggesting the M8 is far and away a more driver orientated proposition than its indirect predecessor, the M6.