I still remember the first time I laid eyes on the original BMW 8 Series. I was in Florida, on vacation, and we were leaving dinner. Like a jaguar stalking its prey in the dusk, it popped while the rest of the middling economy cars faded away. I was struck by its proportions and sleek design. I became, and forever will be, a fan. That same reaction happened when German automaker debuted the new 2019 BMW 8 Series, a flowing design that I desperately need to drive.
BMW has long used the “8” moniker to denote its range-topping automobiles, i.e. the Z8, i8, and original 8 Series coupes. The 8 Series’ return will not buck that trend in any way, shape, or price point.
The new 8 Series will be built in BMW’s plant in Dingolfing, Germany, the home of the new 7 Series production, and rides on BMW’s all-new OKL platform, which also underpins its plant stablemate. The exterior of the car has been designed to evoke the original’s sensual curves while still ensuring that it brings the company’s conceptual language forward.
“The car’s low-slung design, an elongated silhouette with a slim window pillar, a roofline with a distinctive ‘double-bubble’contouring, a long wheelbase, and wide track are the defining elements of the all-new BMW 8 Series Coupe’s proportions,” the company stated.
Customers will also be able to spec their 8 Series with an optional carbon fiber-reinforced plastic roof to both make their car more unique and give it a lower center of gravity for increased performance. Have no doubt, this car is aimed not just at grand touring, but the race track as well.
At launch, only one engine will be available: a 523-horsepower, 4.4-liter, twin-scroll, twin-turbocharged V-8 with 553 lb-ft of torque. That is coupled to BMW’s eight-speed Steptronic automatic transmission, which has been tuned to provide faster gear changes, as well as increased economy depending on the user’s selection of the 8 Series’ driving modes. Also coming standard at launch is BMW’s xDrive all-wheel-drive system, which can send 100 percent of the engine’s power and torque to the rear wheels when the situation doesn’t require all-wheel control, or when hooning about on your local racetrack.
However, first and foremost, the 8 Series is a grand tourer. Keeping the ride comfy is BMW’s Adaptive M Suspension, which adjusts the car’s dampening on the fly to either firm up when things get twisty or soften when blasting across the middle of Europe. The 8 Series also comes with active rear steering, which can turn the rear wheels up to 2.5 degrees of angle depending on the situation.
As with all grand tourers, the interior needs to resemble palatial accouterments, and indeed the BMW does. Inside, the cabin is driver-focused with all the controls angled perfectly for driver interaction. As for the driver’s throne, the sport seats come standard in Merino leather and feature decorative stitching with contrasting colors. These stylistic appointments are continued into the rear of the cabin, where BMW gifted the passengers with ample room, even for adults.
Additionally — and absolutely necessary for any luxurious grand tourer — is the car’s infotainment system. Based on BMW’s seventh-generation iDrive infotainment system, the 8 Series receives a handful of lovely assists, including a 12.3-inch instrument cluster behind the steering wheel, a 10.25-inch central infotainment screen display diagonally across the dash, a full-color head-up display, gesture and voice control, and a standard 16-speaker Harman Kardon stereo system. However, for audiophiles, an optional Bowers & Wilkins Diamond Surround Sound System with 1,400 watts of power can also be spec’d in the 8 Series.
The time has come, however, to talk brass tacks. When the car arrives in U.S. showrooms on December 9, 2018, the standard M850i xDrive Coupe will set customers back $111,900, minus destination and handling. When you look at the 8 Series’ competition, it’s firmly at the lower end of the scale of some of the best grand tourers around. On the cheaper side, you have the fabulous Lexus LC500 which starts at $92,000. On the higher end, the superb Aston Martin DB11 V-8, which starts at nearly $200,000.
I’m not sure which one I’d have since I haven’t yet driven the 2019 BMW 8 Series. But looking at the possibility to relive that wondrous day in south Florida, I know where my heart is leaning.