Lending credence to earlier rumors that the BMW 8 Series is returning from a long 20-year hiatus, our spy shooters turned up snaps of a big Bimmer luxury coupe that fits the bill. Judging by its impressive scale and dramatic proportions, the production mule seen here makes a strong case for the theory that BMW is gearing up to challenge the Mercedes-Benz S-Class coupe.
Despite the heavy camouflage, it’s clear that BMW is looking not only to the original 8 Series for inspiration, but also to the popular BMW Pininfarina Gran Lusso concept (below) shown back in 2013. We can clearly make out from this 8 Series prototype a similar silhouette, complete with sloping rear buttresses, a prominent rear decklid, and horizontal exhaust ports inset into the bumper.
We first heard that BMW was planning this assault with a technology- and luxury-focused two-door that would be dubbed the 9 Series, but sources indicate that plan has been scrapped in favor of a sporty take on a two-door halo. It will be undoubtedly based on the lightweight architecture used for the current BMW 7 Series, and in turn the 8 Series hopes to be more agile and nimble than the hefty-but-smooth S-Class.
Knowing what we do about the current offerings in the 7 Series, safe bets for engine options include the base 3.0-liter turbocharged straight six good for 450 hp, and a 600-650-hp version of the twin-turbo 4.4-liter V-8 from the Alpina B7. Potentially, BMW could offer a 6.6-liter twin-turbo V-12 option from the M760Li xDrive as well, making the same 600-650 hp. These outputs closely line up with what Benz serves up in its three flavors of S Class coupe: 449 hp from the naturally aspirated V-8 in the S550, 577 hp from the twin-turbo V-8 in the AMG S63, and 621 hp from the twin-turbo V-12 in the AMG S65.
European bureau chief Georg Kacher reports that when the 8 Series arrives in late 2019 or early 2020, it will replace the BMW 6 Series. Given that the current 6er has proven no match for the Porsche 911 and can’t hope to be, all versions including the Gran Coupe will be shuttered. Don’t expect a four-door version of the 8 Series either—BMW insiders fear it would cannibalize sales of the 7 Series.