New Atlas | Aaron Tupen | 06/18/2018
BMW has introduced the 2019 BMW 8 Series Coupe, making its return to the US after 20 years of absence. The BMW 8 Series is the new flagship for the automaker, as a sports car heading the lineup. The 8 also denotes design language for the BMW brand going forward.
The 2019 BMW 8 Series Coupe was designed in parallel with the BMW M8 GTE race car, racing in the FIA World Endurance Championship and IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. The concept for the BMW 8 was first introduced in 2017 and the M8 Gran Coupe earlier in 2018.
The production version of the BMW 8 Series Coupe is a little less edgy than its conceptual was, but retains the sharper nose, tight wells, and fastback-coupe curves. The hood retains the contoured speedy nature it had on the concept, with similar lines and a long, dominating appeal. The headlamps are not as narrow, but fit better with the slightly taller grille, and the rear fenders aren’t as bulgingly muscular as was found on that concept. This adds sleekness to the 8.
Underneath, the large intakes at the front of the 8 Series Coupe are aided by airflow-controlling covers that almost completely enclose the underbody. Air curtains and breathers behind the grille control airflow there, and aerodynamic points such as narrow exterior mirrors mounted to the side window weather strips also smooth out air movement.
Inside, BMW aimed for a driver-focused design for the 8 Series Coupe. A wide center console rises into the instrument panel to separate the driver and front passenger. Controls are arranged to be clear and easy to master, keeping the driver focused on what’s outside of the vehicle.
A new “function cluster” in the center stack provides driver settings that give haptic feedback when activated or changed. Drivers will also note that the lights are now controlled to the left of the steering wheel, below the instrument cluster. That matches today’s industry norms.
Other features in the new BMW 8 Series Coupe’s interior include Merino Individual leather on the sport seats and standard split-folding rear seating. Options such as BMW’s multifunction seating and M-series upgrades will also be available.
The new BMW 8 Series Coupe will be introduced first as the M850i xDrive, premiering the latest TwinPower Turbo V8 engine. This 4.4-liter eight-cylinder engine is the latest-generation of the twin-turbocharged V8, featuring twin-scroll turbos with charge air cooling inside the V-shaped space between cylinder banks. Fully variable valve control, precision fuel injection, and a Double-VANOS variable camshaft are also part of the new engine, taking cues from earlier engine debuts in other BMW vehicles.
The new engine in the BMW M850i xDrive Coupe generates 523 horsepower (390 kW) and 553 pound-feet (750 Nm) of torque from 1,800 rpm to 4,600 rpm. Several new technologies went into the new engine design, including a wire-arc sprayed iron coating for the aluminum cylinder walls, Grafal-coated pistons and rings, thermal shielding, and electronically-controlled wastegate actuators to build boost pressure. It allows the BMW M850i to achieve 0-60 mph (0-96 km/h) times of 3.6 seconds and a top speed of 155 mph (249 km/h).
The engine mates to a newly-improved automatic transmission designed to shed weight and offer a wider gear spread. Optimized hydraulics control offers faster gear shifts and twin-damper systems isolate vibrations to reduce slip at the torque converter’s lockup. The eight-speed Steptronic Sport transmission has a controller programmed specifically for the M840i’s performance metrics, utilizing intelligent networking to relay information from various sensors to the transmission controller and engine computer.
When traveling between 9 and 99 mph (14.5-159 km/h), the powertrain can decouple for “coasting” in order to improve fuel and emissions efficiencies. BMW calls this “sail” mode and it engages in very specific situations when the computers feel it will optimize efficiency without affecting performance or comfort. This mode is overridden in sport drive modes.
The all-wheel drive (xDrive) system on the BMW 850i xDrive Coupe sees some improvement over previous renditions. Torque variation between axles and wheels is computer controlled to maximize traction and handling stability. This happens during both adverse road conditions and performance driving. Power is split according to demand via a multi-plate clutch networked with the aforementioned powertrain and chassis systems. Drive torque is normally defaulted to rear-wheel only in most everyday driving situations to maximize efficiency. In addition, that rear axle can lock to force torque evenly between its wheels when traction demands it.
The suspension and chassis systems onboard the new 8 Series Coupe were optimized through BMW’s racing program and the M8 GTE. Braking is also designed after that program’s experience, utilizing special M-branded calipers and wheels, which are exclusively Frozen Cerium Grey metallic and fitted with 245/35R20 tires at the front and 275/30R20 tires at the rear, all specifically developed for the 8 Series Coupe.
Weight savings on the 2019 BMW M850i xDrive Coupe come thanks to optimized use of materials throughout the vehicle. Aluminum is used extensively in the design, including in supporting structures at front and rear, for the roof and doors, and for the hood and front firewall. A magnesium bracing tube for the passenger compartment also lightens weight, as does the carbon fiber reinforcement for the center tunnel. Other body parts can be specified as carbon fiber by the customer. Several chassis components, including the front axle and support structures for the front and rear axles are also made of aluminum. The curb weight of the BMW M850i xDrive Coupe is 4,478 pounds (2,031 kg).
BMW will also offer its complete suite of driver assistance, active safety, and other technologies in the 8 Series Coupe. This includes the BMW Head-Up Display system, Night Vision system for pedestrian and animal detection, lane departure warnings, crash mitigation, adaptive cruise control, and more. Most of these are options to be added to the vehicle. Parking radar is included with the 8 Series Coupe as standard while the more automated parking assistant system will be optional.
The fully-digital cockpit in the BMW 8 Series Coupe allows for full connectivity, BMW says, as part of the company’s seamless smartphone and car integration. Through this, the car and smartphone can be connected through the cloud utilizing BMW’s on-phone app. This app is available on multiple devices, including Amazon’s Alexa and both Apple and Android operating systems. The app allows remote options for the car as well as integration of calendar appointments, navigation, and more. This integrates with BMW’s Digital Key, which identifies the driver upon entry to the vehicle.
BMW will announce more information on the 8 Series Coupe and the M850i xDrive Coupe as its official launch date approaches. That is expected to be in the third quarter of 2018.