The BMW M division claims not to have played, until now, in what it calls the ‘performance luxury’ segment.
Allowing for the existence of cars such as the old M6 Coupé and M6 Convertible, of course, and for several generations of the BMW X5 M performance SUV, the truth of the matter is a bit less clear cut than that statement would suggest – but you can see why they’d make it.
Until now, it has clearly suited BMW M’s purposes to define itself in opposition to rivals Mercedes-AMG, Porsche and Audi Sport predominantly as a maker of more credible hardcore super-saloons and sports coupés than of bigger, more expensive and more lavish six-figure ‘luxury express’ machines. And perhaps, because there has never been an M7 or X7 M, some believe that more development attention has been poured into BMW every M2, BMW M3, BMW M4 and BMW M5.
The launch, with this new second generation of the BMW 8 Series, of a full-fat M version – the M8 – is a bit of a landmark, then. Available initially in both two-door coupé and two-door convertible bodystyles, and with a four-door Gran Coupé coming later in 2020, the M8 becomes arguably BMW’s first proper modern super-GT. And, with prices from just over £123,000, you might even think of it as the first car that BMW would offer up on level terms as an alternative to the blue-blooded Bentleys, Aston Martins, high-end Maseratis and low-end Ferraris of the automotive landscape.
With the discontinuation of production of the i8 recently confirmed, this becomes BMW’s out-and-out performance flagship. But does it offer a technical make-up and driving experience sufficiently different from those of its various M-car relations to bring anything genuinely new to the Motorsport division product range?