Last year I wrote about an abortive attempt by BMW to build an entry-level 8 Series back in the early 1990s. Apparently they’re at it again—with an entirely different approach. This time it might actually be a success.
My colleague at Motor1.com (my day job) wrote about a spy video of an 8 Series testing on the Nürburgring. The car in the video appears to be a test bed for a new entry-level 8 Series, badged as an 840i. Unlike the E31 830i, which would have likely used the detuned three-liter V8 found in the E34 530i, the 840i will use the B58 turbo six-cylinder found throughout BMW’s lineup.
While 335 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque is plenty in a 3 Series, or 380 and 369 in the latest, M Performance applications of the B58, it might feel a big sluggish in the larger, heavier 8 Series, which weighs in at nearly 4,500 pounds. Although some of that weight likely comes from the twin-turbo V8 engine, the car is still big and heavy. In its current guise, it’s an excellent high-speed grand-tourer; with the inline six, it may be a bit of a sheep in wolf’s clothing.
That’s fine, however, as the 840i could serve as a volume model that makes money for BMW. There’s a good chance that many current owners don’t use their M850i to its full potential, either, so the inline six would produce plenty of grunt for commuting, errand-running, and boulevard cruising.
Then again, this could just be another example of me not giving modern BMWs enough credit—the automaker has been almost continuously updating the B58 to be more potent as time has gone on, and the figures are edging ever closer to previous-gen M3 territory.—Cam VanDerHorst
[Photo courtesy BMW AG.]