UPDATE - 29.03.2019
Oh to have been a spy photographer sat track side at the Nurbugring this week. There are so many high-performance models currently being thrashed there day in day out, you’d not be without cause for entertainment – especially if you prefer your cars of the V8 kind. BMW is busy testing both variants of its upcoming M8, the coupe and Gran Coupe, the latter of which has been the latest subject of attention for our snapper’s lens.
Making a return to the dry and warm climates of continental Europe after a winter in the Arctic Circle, BMW’s fleet of M8 Gran Coupe test cars appear to be well into their final phase of testing. High-speed track runs of cars with minimal camouflage normally signal that settings are being signed off and final analysis is being done on components. In the case of sporting cars from BMW, it often also includes a timed lap or two.
Because while this M8 variant is the extra practical more-door version of Bavaria’s 600hp plus super coupe, it’ll still be expected to perform in the manner of a red-blooded M division model. That’s why any adjustment to the suspension in order to make this model ready to carry heavier loads are likely being done so this inevitably weightier version offers all of the same handling characteristics.
Don’t expect more than a tenth or two to be added to the Gran Coupe’s 0-62mph time in comparison to the two-door, either, because the M8’s twin-turbocharged 4.4-litre V8 will provide more punch than the M5’s and utilise its own take on the M-division all-wheel drive system – the one that provides a rear bias at all times and can be switched to pure rear-wheel drive mode at the touch of a button.
It’s likely that the M8 Gran Coupe will be launched after its two-door sister, but with the latter due very soon, we’re expecting to see the more-door car on roads well ahead of the year’s close. A convertible version of the two-door should also squeeze in before 2020, too, with BMW likely keen to get a full line-up of M8s into showrooms in order to really shake up this end of the market. On that note, don’t expect much change back from £140,000 for the cheapest M8.
ORIGINAL STORY - 14.02.2019
If you want proof that the job of an automotive testing engineer isn't all numbers and bar charts, here it is. Shots of the upcoming BMW M8 Gran Coupe being driven in our favourite manner: with a handful of opposite lock during a neat corner-exit slide. It's only natural, of course, given the climatic conditions of the Arctic Circle and the hardware within this four-door BMW.
Like the Gran Coupe version of the regular 8, we expect the four-door M8 to stick with the same powertrain and driveline as its coupe sibling. That means an engine of 4.4-litres and eight cylinders, arranged in diagonally opposed banks, producing at least 600hp - we know the latter because BMW said so and, well, it needs at least that to match the M5. Even with the minimum figure, it's a setup that out punches the Porsche Panamera Turbo's and places the BMW neck-and-neck with the AMG GT 4-Door.
Underneath the M8 Gran Coupe, there'll be a version of the M division's adjustable all-wheel drive system (as used by the M5 and upcoming X3 M and X4 M) that provides the rears with more torque at all times. But, as we know, the system's party piece is its ability to essentially decouple the front axle from the driveline - via multi-plate clutch technology - and turn the car into a rear driver. Added to that, the M8 Gran Coupe will feature all of the same drive modes as the two-door M car, just now you can take more friends along for the ride.
With that in mind, it's inevitable that the Gran Coupe will put on a few pounds thanks to its two extra doors, plus the weight distribution might shuffle backwards a little. As such, this more practical variant will no doubt get bespoke settings for its suspension to prepare for the additional carrying capacity. Still, that doesn't necessarily mean the four-door will be significantly softer; as we know, BMW's M department boffins are rather good at masking a car's weight.
The Gran Coupe, which is due on roads late this year, soon after the non-M model, mixes the front end and exterior design details of the two-door with that slightly elongated roofline. There's certainly no shortage of global demand for a four-door with supercar performance, a muscular soundtrack and a grown-up demeanour - see Porsche Panamera sales and the orders flooding in for AMG's rival. Only question is, which of the options would you go for?