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BMW flagship returns after a 20-year hiatus to inject some glamour into the brand

Approaching three decades after the introduction of the original ‘E31’ BMW 8 Series and nearly two after its retirement, BMW has returned to the big GT coupé market. The second-generation 8 Series – BMW’s elegant, continent-crossing two-door flagship – is here.

Key to Munich’s strategy of boosting its profile among upper-level luxury car makers and their customers by shifting its model portfolio back towards bigger, grander and more upmarket products, the new ‘G15’-generation two-door Coupe will be part of a wider 8 Series family that will also include the upcoming ‘G14’ BMW 8 Series Convertible and ‘G16’ four-door BMW 8 Series Gran Coupe. It’s a successor to the BMW 6 Series 2011-2018, two full model generations of which have gone some way to filling the vacuum that the original 8 Series left when it was discontinued in 1999.

Blue accents are the clearest sign that someone has splashed out on the Laserlight LED headlights (part of the £1500 Visibility pack). Our test jury thought they looked a bit gaudy.

A nomenclative reference to a predecessor model that departed the scene so long ago might not mean much to many, yet the average GT coupé customer should be old enough to remember the pop-up headlights and pioneering technological character of the E31. One of Munich’s first computer-designed production cars, the first 8 Series was also the first BMW with a fully electronic ‘by-wire’ throttle and one of the first with multi-link rear suspension.

A certain standard on technological innovation and sophistication might reasonably be expected of the new G15, then; and, with four-wheel drive, four-wheel steering, active anti-roll bars and BMW’s latest infotainment and driver assistance technologies, it doesn’t look set to disappoint.

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BMW UK is offering the car with a choice of 523bhp twin-turbo V8 petrol or 315bhp twin-turbo diesel straight-six engines, neither of which needs longer than five seconds to hit 62mph, according to the manufacturer’s claims. We elected to run the road test ruler over the latter

BMW 8 Series First drives