At a time when the automotive industry is collectively shifting focus from the traditional family sedan to luxury and sporty SUVs, a segment that BMW helped invent, the marque also managed to unveil one of its most aggressive models yet, taking the form of the all-new 8 Series.
For this reason, in addition to its gorgeous looks made up of captivating lines and sculpted panels, editors of Automobile have chosen it as their 2019 Design of the Year. Competition was formidable, with candidates such as the third-generation Mercedes-Benz CLS, Audi A7 Sportback, Genesis G70, and Volvo XC60 also having been considered, all of which are fresh for the 2019 model year. BMW’s new range topper emerged triumphant though, and rightfully so—in our eyes, at least—because it is a high-test effort in not only aesthetics, but also technology and an entirely new design language for the automaker. The new 8 Series occupies the rarefied air of a vehicle segment that is only getting more exclusive as time goes on, a space intended for the trend-setters and decision makers among us.
The G15 8 Series is a radical departure from the cars that made BMW what it is today, many of which used a traditionally tall greenhouse and distinctive lines that made them easy to pick out in traffic. Moving forward a few decades, the 8 Series also represents a substantial shift from what well-heeled BMW customers have enjoyed over the past decade, in the form of models like the 6 Series and 6 Series Gran Coupe, 4 Series derivatives and more. New models that have followed the introduction of the 8 Series like the new fourth-generation G05 X5, and the seventh-generation G20 3 Series have already taken heed from the new range topper in various ways, but nothing can emulate the presence of the big coupe.
Rather than rephrase what Automobile had to say, a single excerpt from their article summarizes why the 8 Series has been bestowed the honor:
“At the wheel of one of these big coupes, you are clearly The Man or The Woman; big coupes are extremely popular with the coterie of men and women who never go out in public less than impeccably and stylishly well turned out, and they always have been.”—Robert Cumberford, Automobile
Another interesting point made in the Automobile article is that range-toppers like the 8 Series typically do not account for a direct return on investment in relation to the costs incurred during their development. A large platform with specially shaped sheet metal and a potent drivetrain that sells in low numbers is a perfect recipe for losing money, but that’s not what big-picture cars like the 8 Series and its competitors, like the S-Class coupe, are about.
Range-topping models, or halo cars, as they are sometimes referred, are far more important to their respective marques than their own specific bottom line. These vehicles are not designed to make money, but are instead intended to simply exist within their segment. Their mere presence does all of the talking, as Automobile describes above, and often works to drive sales for models far lower on the totem pole, in what can perhaps best be described as a trickle-down effect.
But even in the cutthroat world of automotive industry profits with monthly, quarterly and annual sales thresholds, the 8 Series has an advantage that few other high-line competitors from the likes of Jaguar, Aston, Mercedes-Benz or others can match. In addition to being used as the basis for the 8 Series coupe, the underpinnings of the G15 will also see use in models that are sure to bolster sales and improve the return on investment for developing it. Along with the 8 Series convertible which was revealed last year, both an M8 and an 8 Series Gran Coupe are believed to be in the pipeline. Everything is going modular these days anyway.
Although many may be calling for the conventional four-door sedan to be read its last rites before the crossover SUV drives a final nail into its proverbial coffin, four-door designs based on coupes, like BMW’s Gran Coupes, or Mercedes-Benz CLS and CLA models, have proven quite popular, and the Eight, with a number of derivatives, is forecasted to raise to the occasion and compete in a variety of realms, while looking good in the process.—Alex Tock
[Photos courtesy BMW AG.]