Just over a year after the world premier of the 8 Series coupe, and nearly eight months after we were first shown the 8 Series convertible, BMW has added what is likely to be the volume seller of the lineup to the model portfolio, the four-door 8 Series Gran Coupé. Perhaps more than the 8 Series as a whole though, the Gran Coupé fills an important space in the BMW lineup, and absolutely needs to be a strong followup to the 6 Series Gran Coupé which wears a design that still leaves many doing a double-take to this day.
Production of the 8 Series Gran Coupe, internally referred to as the G16, begins next month during July, while the market launch is scheduled later this year in September. There will be two models available at launch for U.S. customers; the B58-powered 840i with 335 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque, and the N63-powered M850i, pictured in this article, with 523 horsepower and 553 pound-feet, just like the coupe counterpart.
With the newest BMW Gran Coupé have come renewed complaints by the enthusiast community that the brand continues to dilute its presence with coupes that have four doors, and M Performance models that straddle what was previously no man’s land between conventional production models and real-deal M cars. But, instead of asking why BMW continues to produce—highly sought-after and incredibly good looking—Gran Coupés, we should instead be asking, why not? Every model in the BMW lineup, just like those of top competitors Mercedes-Benz and Audi, serves a purpose. Yes, there’s more overlap than over before with an X model from one through seven, but Gran Coupés, and equivalent models like the CLS, A7, and A5 Sportback cater to a special customer base.
For these people, especially those confined to the higher end of the market, where the 6 Series Gran Coupé previously competed with the CLS and S7, a conventional sedan doesn’t fit the bill. Whether it’s either lacking in presence, uninspired, or simply too conventional, these individuals are willing to sacrifice the functionality of a sedan for the automotive world’s latest form of performance luxury, many of which ride on sedan underpinnings. On the same coin, however, this class of customer, for an entirely different set of reasons, cannot commit to a coupe, with two doors and smaller back seats. This is the specific space cars like the elegant 8 Series Gran Coupé fill. While BMW also offers a much more affordable 4 Series Gran Coupe, which does its best to meld 3 Series functionality with 4 Series looks, the 8 Series occupies the upper end of the spectrum, in a way the 5 Series and 7 Series never could.
The 8 Series Gran Coupé uses a model-specific body design (except for the M8 Gran Coupé that is sure to follow) which is sharp in all the right places, and effective in making the gorgeous 6 Series Gran Coupé show its age. Speaking of an M8 Gran Coupé, that model, which is yet to be announced, will likely be the fastest BMW with four-doors, thus opening a new performance level in the lineup, and besting the incredibly capable M5.
Getting into the details, the 8 Series Gran Coupé boasts a rear track that is 1.2-inches wider than the 8 Series Coupe, which is likely to pay dividends in terms of performance capability. Specific paint finishes include Alpine White, Carbon Black, Mineral White, Sonic Speed Blue, and Sunset Orange, while Black Sapphire Metallic, Bluestone, Blue Ridge Mountain, and Barcelona Blue are all limited to the 840i. BMW Individual finishes, like Dravit Grey Metallic, Tanzanite Blue II, Aventurin Red, and Frozen Bluestone will also be available, the latter of which is on display here.
It’s not all about looks and performance though, because the 8 Series Gran Coupé also promises to be an experience in luxury as well. Many of the high-line features we’ve come to expect from such a car, like night-vision, a heads-up display, and BMW’s Live Cockpit Professional will all be on hand to make the driving experience better, while an array of safety and driving assistance measures are ever-present to mitigate a collision or loss of control.
The interior can be belted for up to five individuals, with the occupant sitting in the center rear having to straddle the large center console that hugs the driveshaft tunnel. Being slightly larger than its predecessor, the M8 offers considerably more interior space than the 6 Series, with rear headroom beneath the sloping roof having been expanded by 3.4 inches. Rear legroom is also up 7.1-inches, while rear shoulder room has grown by 7.7. An alternative to standard ambient lighting, the cabin can also be bathed in natural light via the standard panoramic sunroof, which somehow stretches almost the entire length of the greenhouse.
Standard interior trim for the six-cylinder 840i is Vernasca leather in either black, Ivory White, or Cognac. M850i models will feature standard BMW Individual extended Merino in Black, Ivory White, or Cognac, or a host of two-tone combinations that include Night Blue and black, Tartufo and Black, and Fiona Red with black. The BMW Individual finishes will be offered optionally for the 840i. Opting for full Merino leather instead of extended opens the options up a bit, and makes the two-tone Ivory White and Night Blue combination pictured here available. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s Night Blue.
Like the 6 Series Gran Coupé, which offered seating for three in the rear which could be split and folded down in a 60:40 configuration, the 8 Series Gran Coupé also allows for the expansion of the trunk cargo space into the cabin. The difference here is that each setback can be individually folded forward, in a 40:20:40 arrangement. Trunk volume, which is measured at 15.5 cubic-feet, has been expanded 0.7 over the predecessor 6 Series—with plenty of room for golf clubs.
The 8 Series Gran Coupé is an important model for BMW. To continue the legacy established by the 6 Series Gran Coupé, it must establish itself as the type of car that people see in traffic and immediately experience a feeling of enticing lust and desire for. The striking design, which has great presence thanks to sharp, modern lines and imposing elements seems up to the task, and we can’t wait to see how the M850i xDrive Gran Coupé looks, feels, and behaves in the flesh.—Alex Tock
[Photos courtesy BMW AG.]