In case you missed the barrage of social-media posts, the 24 Hours of Le Mans was held last weekend at the storied Sarthe circuit, and for BMW, this year marked a return to the legendary race after a seven-year hiatus. For some context on that gap, the team has switched racing platforms three times since a BMW last raced at Le Mans. While the E92 M3 GT2, the Z4 GT3, and M6 GT3 were based on production models, the current M8 GTE doesn’t currently have a production counterpart—or rather, it didn’t have one until last weekend.
After almost a year of teasing us with concepts and camouflaged prototypes, the production 8 Series is here.
Alex Tock has plenty of information on the new M850i xDrive in his article on the car, but fellow BimmerLife editor Nick Parente and I were at the race (thanks to the Michelin Le Mans Experience—more on that later) to bring you an exclusive photo set of some design elements on the new platform.
We’ll have to wait for the unveiling of an official M8 model, but the first Eight to arrive in the states will be the M850i. The full name of this Sunset Orange example is, technically, the BMW M850i xDrive Coupe M Performance, signaling another opportunity for M branding
Like the G12 7 Series, the F92 8 Series employs BMW’s Carbon Core technology, meaning parts of the chassis are infused with carbon-fiber for a stronger, lighter design.
The side view has drawn comparisons to everything from the Mustang to a Jaguar XK to an Aston Martin—but the profile, complete with the Hofmeister kink, is befitting of a proper fastback BMW coupe.
Here’s a wider view of the rear quarter. We look forward to seeing it with some even more aggressive rear fenders.
Vents abound on the M850i, front and rear. It will be interesting to see how the M8 develops these even further.
The optional Carbon Package provides CFRP air-intake bars, mirror caps, spoiler, and rear diffuser.
The Carbon Package is striking; notably, does not involve dipping into the M Performance parts catalog.
Other weight savings on the M850i include aluminum front and rear supporting structures, roof, doors, hood, front firewall, front axle, wheel carriers, and forged control arms, as well as magnesium and lightweight steel components.
The rear diffuser design, particularly in carbon-fiber, provides a modern, intense rear profile—but the quad exhaust tips themselves are exposed well behind the cosmetic exhaust port. It’s not a new practice, but we’re not sure how we feel about this.
The front lower grille slats are a great touch, in our opinion, and will no doubt draw a lot of M8-related inquiries from onlookers.
The front air breather, finished in black witp M Performance trim, is an opportunity for an M Performance Parts option—but even the standard design is intricate and bold.
Behind the nineteen-inch M Sport wheels sit blue brake calipers. Personalization of these will be interesting to see, but we’re holding out for the king-of-the-hill gold calipers that we predict might appear on the M8—equipped with carbon-ceramic brakes.
The front profile is reminiscent of the 6 Series, but the design of the bumper is more intricate, and the furrowed brow of the hood and headlights is definitely more aggressive.
Speaking of headlights, BMW’s Laser Light technology returns on the blue-eyed M850i.
As with the M2 Competition, the kidney grilles of the M850i are actually one single grille—although the design is restrained compared to design studies like the X7.
The new sport seat design continues BMW’s tendency of debuting new interior options on its largest coupes, and the new design certainly feels fresh. [We look forward to testing them on another cross-country road trip in a few years!—Nick Parente]
Rear-seat access and comfort have yet to be tested under road-trip conditions, but some attention has been given to their design.
In classic BMW style, the center stack is neat and clean. iDrive handles the more complex functions.
BMW continues their evolution of the interior with several subtle but important updates, including the new iDrive controller and a 10.25-inch screen. The M850i also receives a standard head-up display and standard sixteen-speaker Harman Kardon sound system.
The optional sport steering wheel is shared with the new F90 M5—and the sizable paddles look like a hoot.
BMW kept the key out of sight, but like the 7 Series, 5 Series, and 6 Series GT, the new 8 Series gets the optional touchscreen smartkey to control interior amenities and drive the car in and out of parking spots.
The new gauge-display screen is going to be fun to test, and with strong competitors from Audi and Mercedes, BMW has no doubt invested heavily in its development.
Any more questions or thoughts about the new M850i? Drop us a note in the comments below. We look forward to seeing the new 8 Series stateside soon!—David Rose