BMW had originally planned to tackle Stuttgart’s plush, fast two-doors with the 9 Series – think big coupe and convertible packed with 7 Series-level toys – but the cars were ditched because insiders realized they’d lack enough advanced technology to compete. So now the focus has switched to a car that can be positioned as an emphatically sporty alternative to the two-door S-Class twins.
Slated to launch in late 2019 or early 2020, the 8 Series will be one of the last BMWs to be built off the CLAR architecture, elements of which are used in the 3, 5, 6, and 7 Series. That means there can’t be a pure EV version – no room in the structure for the batteries – but a plug-in hybrid with a four- or six- cylinder internal combustion engine is planned. A V-12 will fit, but the lighter 4.0-liter V-8 (rated at 650hp in M trim) and a 450hp 3.0-liter straight six are the logical choices for the volume-selling models.
BMW will aim to make the 8 Series lighter and more agile than the S-Class two-doors, yet offer similar room aboard for four passengers. There won’t be a four-door 8 Series Gran Coupe, however, for fear of cannibalizing 7 Series. There won’t be a 6 Series Gran Coupe, either; the 6 Series coupe and convertible are being mothballed because neither has the dynamic talent to be a true 911 fighter, and a four-door 6 Series would be an orphan in the lineup.
The Gran Coupe badge will live on, however, though it will be applied to the second-generation 5 Series GT. Further down the range, the 3 Series GT and 4 Series Gran Coupe – cars that to the uninitiated seem more or less identical – will be merged into one model. There will also be a 2 Series Gran Coupe, built off the front drive/all-wheel drive architecture that underpins the new 1 Series, the 2 Series Active Tourer, and sundry Minis.