BMW’s new all-wheel-drive M8 will offer up to 616 hp and a top speed of 190 mph (306 km/h) in top-of-the-line Competition guise when it goes on sale later this year, making it the most powerful and fastest 2-door production model yet sold by the German automaker in North America.
Revealed in Munich for the first time in production form ahead of its public debut at the Frankfurt auto show in September, the latest in a growing lineup of performance models from BMW’s M division builds on the strengths of the recently introduced M850i with a V8 gasoline engine shared with the latest M5. It also features a chassis honed during a development program carried out partly at the demanding Nurburgring circuit and a leather-lined cabin equipped with BMW’s latest digital and connectivity functions.
As with the M850i, the M8 offers the choice of both coupe and convertible body styles, the latter featuring a multilayer fabric roof structure that stows in a dedicated compartment at the rear of its 2-plus-2 cabin. It enters the BMW M lineup as a replacement for the rear-wheel-drive M6 and M6 Convertible and a high-end rival to the Mercedes-AMG S63 4Matic Coupe and Convertible.
Key identifying features of the new flagship BMW model include a uniquely styled front bumper, M division identification within the grille and side air vents, 20-in. M-Sport wheels, M-Sport mirror housings, a trunk deck lip spoiler and new rear bumper housing a wide diffuser element and BMW M’s signature quad round tailpipe treatment.
At 191.6 ins. (4,867 mm) long, 75.1 ins. (1,908 mm) wide and 53.6 ins. (1,361 mm) tall, the M8 Coupe is 1.4 ins. (36 mm) shorter, 0.3 in. (8 mm) wider and 0.5 in. (13 mm) lower than the discontinued M6. Its wheelbase is 0.9 in. (23 mm) shorter than that of its predecessor at 111.3 ins. (2,827 mm), with corresponding track widths reduced 0.2 in. (6 mm) at the front at 64.1 ins. (1,628 mm) and increased 0.8 in. (20 mm) at the rear at 64.3 ins. (1,633 mm).
Inside (below, left) are a number of traditional M division elements, including the latest M-Sport steering wheel, stainless steel pedal caps, heavily contoured M-Sport seats, unique M-Sport digital instruments, M-specific graphics for the infotainment system and a newly designed M-sport gear lever.
Power for the M8 comes from the same longitudinally mounted twin-turbocharged 4.4L gasoline V-8 as that used by the M5. Among its technical highlights is a high-pressure fuel-injection system that operates at up to 5,075 psi (350 bar), indirect-charge air cooling and cross-bank exhaust manifolds.
As with its 4-door sibling, the 90-degree unit is offered in two different states of tune across four different models. In the standard M8 Coupe and M8 Convertible, it develops 592 hp at 6,000 rpm and 553 lb.-ft. (750 Nm) of torque between 1,800 and 5,600rpm – 69 hp more and the same torque loading as the twin-turbocharged 4.4L V-8 used by the M850i.
With various tweaks to its induction system and more rigid engine mounting, the reserves of the BMW M-developed engine are increased, providing the M8 Coupe Competition and M8 Convertible Competition with 616 hp at the 6,000 rpm and the same 553 lb.-ft. of torque as the standard M8 but over a 200-rpm-wider band of revs between 1,800 and 5,800 rpm.
By comparison, the rear-wheel-drive M6 Coupe’s older-specification twin-turbocharged 4.4L gasoline V-8 kicked out 560 hp and 501 lb.-ft. (679 Nm) while the all-wheel-drive S63 4Matic S’s twin-turbocharged 4.0L gasoline V-8 delivers 603 hp and 663 lb.-ft. (899 Nm).
Drive is channeled through an 8-speed torque-converter-equipped M Steptronic automatic gearbox featuring steering-wheel-mounted paddles and BMW M’s Drivelogic function that allows the driver to select between three different shift modes.
The M8’s all-wheel-drive system draws on developments brought to the latest M5, offering the choice between standard 4WD, 4WD Sport and, with the DSC dynamic stability control system switched off, a pure rear-wheel-drive 2WD setting.
BMW quotes an official 0-62 mph (100 km/h) time of 3.3 seconds for the standard M8 Coupe and 3.2 seconds for the M8 Coupe Competition, which is claimed to weigh the same as its less powerful sibling at 4,147 lbs. (1,885 kg). Both models are limited to a nominal top speed of 155 mph (250 km/h), though this can be raised to 190 mph with an optional Driver’s Package that includes high-speed-rated tires.
Underpinning the new BMW M flagship is a so-called adaptive M suspension with double wishbones up front and a 5-link arrangement at the rear together with variable damper control and standard 20-in. alloy wheels shod with 275/35 ZR20 front and 285/35 ZR20 tires. The steering uses a further-developed version of the M850i’s EPS (electric power steering) system with an M-specific Servotronic function with variable ratio.