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The existence of a new BMW M8 has been teased long before the latest G15 8 Series even made its debut, ever since BMW announced the car would go racing in the World Endurance Championship (WEC) in 2017. A thinly-veiled four-door concept and numerous leaks later, Munich has finally revealed the barnstorming monster that will put this hallowed nameplate into production at long last.
Making its debut in F92 Coupé and F91 Convertible forms (the Gran Coupé version, previewed by the aforementioned show car, will likely arrive later on), the M8 receives an engine that, as expected, has been lifted directly from the F90 M5. That engine is an S63 4.4 litre twin-turbocharged V8 that develops a stout 600 hp at 6,000 rpm and 750 Nm of torque between 1,800 and 5,600 rpm.
All that power is sent to all four wheels via an eight-speed M Steptronic automatic transmission with Drivelogic settings. So equipped, the M8 will sprint from zero to 100 km/h in just 3.3 seconds (a tenth slower with the soft-top), and while the top speed is limited to the usual 250 km/h, specifying the M Driver’s Package brings that figure up to 305 km/h. Plenty brisk, then.
But wait, there’s more. As with the latest X3 M and X4 M, the M8 will be available in Competition form at launch, which raises the power figure to 625 hp and extends peak torque output to 5,800 rpm. It also gets stiffer engine mounts that ensure quicker throttle response and a more instantaneous turn-in, along with a switchable M Sport exhaust system that is optional on other models. As such, the Competition model slashes a tenth off the zero-to-100 km/h time, to a scarcely believable 3.2 seconds (3.3 seconds for the Convertible).
The M8 also gets the M5’s M xDrive all-wheel drive system, which varies the torque distribution between the front and rear wheels depending on the conditions and chosen setting. While the system already features a rear bias as standard, putting the car in 4WD Sport mode sends even more torque to the rear axle; the hardcore 2WD mode, only available with the stability control switched off, locks the system in rear-wheel drive to deliver delicious tyre-smoking drifts. An Active M Differential continues to be fitted at the rear.
Keeping the car on the road is a sharpened chassis that features adaptive dampers and bespoke kinematic and elastokinematic properties to provide precise wheel location and directional stability. The double wishbone front suspension employs special swivel bearings, torque arms and control arms, along with elastomer bearings to channel the forces acting on the suspension across the subframe and body structure.
Meanwhile, the five-link rear axle gets M-specific forged links to improve agility, plus stiffer anti-roll bars for more precise suspension and damping responses. Torsional rigidity has also been increased through the use of a tower-to-bulkhead strut and a stiffer shear panel with integrated side sill connection at the front, as well as a steel cross-brace and an aluminium transverse strut at the rear. Competition models benefit from increased front camber and the use of ball joints on the rear toe links, further improving cornering dynamics.
The rest of the car has evolved in the two years since the M5 was unveiled. There’s now a brake-by-wire system with a compact module that integrates the brake activation, boosting and control functions, along with a vacuum-free brake booster. The system is said to shave two kilograms and provide instant brake pressure, faster and more precise stability control interventions and optimum pedal feel – even through slippery conditions, hard cornering or high braking temperatures.
The system also gives drivers the choice of Comfort and Sport settings that alter the ferocity of brake pressure delivery, selectable through the new Setup button which also controls the engine, gearbox, suspension, variable ratio steering and all-wheel drive settings. Another new button, M Mode, alters the driver assistance systems and the information presented on the car’s screens to suit the driver’s mood.
In the default Road setting, all systems and displays function as normal, but pressing the button once puts the car into Sport mode. Here, the head-up display and instrument display show only relevant vehicular information, and the driver can also turn off all driver assists bar autonomous emergency braking and the Evasion Assistant. The Competition models gain a Track mode that turns all assists, the centre screen and the audio system off, enabling the driver to focus on balls-to-the-wall driving.
That’s a lot of performance enhancements hidden under the skin, so it’s just as well the skin itself has been nipped and tucked to fit the more muscular underpinnings. The handsome 8 Series design has been made more aggressive, with massive triple air intakes at the front and a rear diffuser with the trademark quad exhausts, while the front fenders have swollen to fit the wider track and feature large Air Breather vents.
Also fitted are a subtle rear spoiler, M-specific twin-spar door mirrors and, on the Coupé, a double-bubble carbon fibre roof. Large 20-inch alloy wheels come as standard and hide M compound brakes measuring 395 mm at the front, or 400 mm with the optional M carbon ceramic brakes. The Competition models add gloss black exterior highlights and complex forged alloys, and an M Carbon exterior package is also available.
Inside, you’ll find the usual sports seats with perforated three-dimensional quilting larger side bolsters, integrated headrests and an illuminated M8 badge, along with a unique steering wheel with red M1 and M2 buttons for calling up your favourite vehicle settings. There’s also a red starter button and a new electronic gearlever, embossed and featuring M colour stitching and a cut-out with “waterfall” lighting.
The M8 comes as standard with full Merino leather upholstery, but Competition models also get the option of leather and Alcantara trim in a contrasting two-tone colour scheme. The latter also gets Alcantara on the centre console, lower dashboard and the Coupé’s BMW Individual headlining.