The BMW 8 Series has been testing on roads in Wales as the new luxury 2+2 coupé moves towards its launch.
BMW’s test programme for the car has seen camouflaged examples tackling the challenging routes on mountainous Welsh B-roads, which are a favourite for car magazine road testers.
Based on the 8 Series concept that debuted at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este in Italy in May 2017, the new 8 Series is scheduled to be unveiled in production form at the Le Mans 24 Hours meeting on 15th June. It is then expected on sale in November, reviving a model line last sold 20 years ago.
The Welsh test routes are focused on tuning the powertrain and suspension, with the key test model being the M850i xDrive Coupe. This combines a redeveloped V8 engine with all-wheel drive that is biased in normal running towards the rear.
The engine weighs the same as its predecessor but its output has been increased by 68hp to 530hp, and torque has gone up 100Nm to 750Nm, on tap from 1800rpm. The V8 is matched to an eight-speed Steptronic sports transmission which has also been redeveloped, its shift times shortened and the range between them further spread.
BMW is not yet quoting performance figures for the car but a states that the new powertrain will be as comfortable cruising in Grand Tourer style as it will be in offering “noticeably more dynamic” performance.
A cockpit-operated ‘driving experience’ control includes Sport and Sport+ modes which both increase power delivery and retune the sound of the engine. Other technology featuring on the car includes an active rear axle differential lock which provides maximum traction when accelerating out of corners, adaptive suspension with roll stabilisation and active steering.
BMW 8 Series project manager Markus Flasch describes the adaptability of the car as the aspect that most impresses him. “Whether a driver expresses his or her wishes with regard to comfort and sportiness using the accelerator pedal or by pressing a button, the vehicle immediately adapts perfectly to each setting,” he says.
The 8 Series range is expected to grow to include a V12-engined version and eventually an M8 high-performance model.