Like every longways-engined BMW since the sixth-generation 7-Series of 2015, the 8 Series adopts Munich’s ‘Cluster Architecture’ platform, which itself allows a mix of high-strength steel, aluminium, magnesium and carbonfibre-reinforced plastic within the car’s body-in-white. It contributes to a kerbweight which is lean for a car of this kind: our M850i test car was more than 100kg lighter than an equivalent Mercedes S-Class Coupe despite having extra driveshafts to carry.
Suspension is via the same mix of double wishbones up front and multiple links at the rear familiar to all of BMW’s bigger models, although the 8 Series gets suspension settings, axle kinematics, subframe mountings, wheelbase and track widths different from its various platform relations. A four-wheel steering system, married up to an actively variable steering ratio for the front axle, comes as standard; adaptively damped ‘adaptive M Sport’ suspension is optional and bundled with active anti-roll bars. BMW has chosen not to offer the active air suspension system available on its 7-Series and 6-Series GT on the new 8 Series, however; this big GT coupe rides on steel coils. For a sporting GT, that could be either a source of dynamic strength or, given how advanced and tunable modern multi-chamber air suspension systems have become, it could turn out to be a weakness. We’ll see.
First, step inside. The interior of the 8 Series was a chance for BMW really to go to town, where the old 6-Series coupe always felt slightly hamstrung by the more lowly position it adopted in BMW’s model hierarchy, and perhaps by its material links to the 5-Series saloon. Has Munich fully committed to the opportunity, though: thrown off the shackles, taken off the handbrake and given us a world-class cabin for luxury grand touring? Well, yeah... a bit.
It’s certainly plundered the trim cupboard labelled ‘matt chrome’. I get the feeling most of the interiors of BMW’s coming generation of cars will be chromier than those they will replace. Thankfully, most of the shiny stuff is impressively and tastefully deployed, and the environment looks and feels very rich and expensive more widely – just as it should.
The 8 Series’ seats are superb. In front of you when you’re sat in one is BMW’s new-generation ‘iDrive 7.0’touchscreen infotainment system (new look, more driver-customisable menu screens) and its Live Cockpit Professional 12.3in instrument display (so BMW finally joins the ranks of car makers offering a fully digital cluster). If these new digital instruments spell the beginning of the end for the beautifully simple, round BMW speedometer, I’ll be sorry to see it go, I must say. You can’t read a half-octagonal dial nearly as easily. But, with speed displayed digitally in the head-up display, perhaps BMW thinks that no longer matters.