The M8 is coming, and with every fresh detail we learn, excitement grows for BMW’s new performance range-topper. M6 and 6 Series sales are in their final stage of tapering off, while the M8 has since moved beyond its final stage of development, as we approach its upcoming reveal date and subsequent market introduction.
There’s something about eight that is so much greater than six though, something unquantifiable beyond the simple mathematical difference between the two digits. In the halls of BMW lore, thinking of the 8 Series, for the longest time, conjured up thoughts of a V12 M car that never was. BMW itself is all too aware of the supernatural presence surrounding the number eight for the brand, and it’s safe to say that no previous model graced with the digit has yet been a disappointment, with specialties like the Z8, i8, and recently the new G15 8 Series making up the history.
More specifics about the forthcoming M8 continue to surface ahead of the eventual reveal, and within the new level of customization offered by the all-wheel drive racer for the street are options to send motivation exclusively to the rear axle at the push of a button. There are a myriad of other parameters one can set via the iDrive controller or control display itself, and beyond optional rear-drive as found in the M5, the M8 will go a step further, with brake pedal feel that can also be adjusted.
BMW’s brake-by-wire setup debuted with the M850i, and although the feature has been met with divided reactions, the concept has a direct link to motorsport. The M-specific version found in the M8 is claimed to make for weight reduction via the elimination of select components, and goes without the use of a vacuum in the booster, thus improving engine efficiency. An electronic actuator also provides for more finite interpretation of modulation, and for braking force to be applied in a more dynamic, precise fashion. The system allows for more targeted intervention on the part of traction and stability control systems as well.
The new equipment is promised to give both sublime pedal-feel and a level of configurability (two settings) that can be geared directly to a specific driver and their requirements. Both conventional steel M Compound brakes, and the optional M carbon-ceramic setup will make use of the setup.
There are plenty of visual queues taking shape beneath the shrinking portions of pre-prodution camouflage as well. A quad exhaust is a signature M element, a carbon fiber roof is in clear view, while the front end houses expansive openings for air to flow through the body. Bulging haunches also frame upsized—compared to the M850i—wheels in a familiar design that are undoubtedly wrapped in sticky summer rubber.
Other photos reveal the presence of massive gold brake calipers, which confirm the presence of the previously discussed M carbon-ceramic brake package, while there are also some clear aero specialties, like the front splitter, trunk-mounted spoiler, and perhaps even a race-inspired diffusor setup present as well. Aerodynamic M mirrors round things out, while the tail lights, like the M850i, are shared with the M8 GTE race car which won the Rolex 24 at Daytona this year.
With all of that customization and configurability of the chassis, brakes, engine, transmission, and suspension, one will need a clear display to interpret everything, and the M8 does not disappoint. New for the performance range-topping coupe is a fresh update to BMW’s live cockpit professional which appears to have been completely restyled from a blank slate for the application.
The layout is familiar to what’s found in other contemporary BMW vehicles, but the display itself seems to have more flexibility in terms of what can be shown, and what looks like M mode below presents important information in clear, legible white on black type. All of the controls are placed conveniently at the driver’s fingertips on the center console with an array of tactile buttons surrounding the iDrive controller and shifter.
BMW Motorsport works and Team MTEK driver Martin Tomczyk has plenty of seat time in the M8 GTE, which debuted on the circuit at last year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans. Check out the video below for his take (and explanation of everything discussed above) and how it’s all just like what he uses at work.—Alex Tock
[Photos and video courtesy BMW AG.]