You had to know it was coming: BMW has done a good job keeping the rumors quelled, and even speculation seems to have been couched at surprisingly low level. But if previous series model offerings and the beloved history of the brand are any indication, we had to guess that there was an M8 road car in the pipeline.
The hype and excitement surrounding the initial modern 8 Series unveiling, which took the form of the M850i xDrive coupe, will not soon be forgotten; fanfare was much greater than for any other M Performance vehicle introduction, with dual events held in the Hamptons and at the 2018 24 Hours of Le Mans.
BMW has been releasing more vehicles than ever in previous years, and things only seem to be accelerating lately. With so much going on, it’s easy for different models and series to get lost in the shuffle—but that was never a possibility for the Eight. Now, just a few weeks after the initial world premier, video footage of what’s believed to be an M8 coupe prototype being hustled through the curves of the Nürburgring has surfaced.
The video above comes from one of the more reliable sources known for posting footage of the various prototypes running around Europe. Thanks to a few visible indicators, other automotive media outlets also agree that the camouflaged model is probably the illusive range-topper for which BMW fans have been lusting,.
In comparison with the header photo used for this article, which is actually an official BMW press shot from mid-2017 teasing the upcoming M8, things appear to be evolving as one might expect in the prototype stage: The camouflage wrap is quite a bit more revealing now, and specific details related to lighting and other small elements are coming through more clearly on both ends. Taillight lenses look like the same type used on the M850i, which are shared with the M8 GTE race car. The exterior vinyl still has a way of deceiving the eye and causing strange optical effects, but the body does seem just a bit more defined than before.
The sound coming from quad exhaust pipes, which follow conventional M design with no false finishers, is a mean yet familiar note that doesn’t sound far off from the S63 V8 in the F90 M5; no details have yet been confirmed, but that high-strung, fire-breathing engine seems to be a natural choice for what BMW has referred to as a “flat-out” version of the brand’s range-topper, which can be effectively summarized as a Performance Grand Tourer with stunning all-weather capability and industry-leading tech in its base U.S.-spec offering.
The M8 is expected to follow the performance offered by the rest of the M-division lineup, and keen eyes will spot brakes that look like the optional M carbon-ceramic type—you know, the ones that add roughly $10,000 to the invoice of an M5. Rounding things out are large front air intakes, which are functional in terms of keeping what’s likely to be a very powerful engine cool, while other shots show a wheel design that resembles the current style 666M-style competition package and M4 GTS spoke pattern.
The M850i xDrive is expected to be a potent competitor in its segment, but the running gear of this alleged M8 prototype points to an even higher realm of performance. We look forward to learning more as details trickle down, and we hope to put one through its paces before too long.—Alex Tock
[Photo and video courtesy of BMW AG, Automotive Mike on Youtube.]