BMW 8 series Gran Coupé Concept, and rivals

What is it?

It’s going to be BMW’s flagship they say. Perhaps finally beating the S-class at a different game.

This is the latest 8 series to be revealed. Presented at the Geneva show, the Gran Coupe is a coupé-d saloon of a coupé, and pictured here in ‘M8’ form. Who knows how a car larger than the old M6 GC is meant to be ‘Motorsport derived’, not that I wouldn’t like to see such a racing series. In any case, it seems a little inappropriate. Certainly the violence with which the designer changed direction with his pencil lends this swoopy-roofline flagship saloon a touch too much aggression, and apparently enough to crack ice.

Front lights are angled to complete its forward and downward aspect.

That said, some acts of visual drama such as the hulking rear haunches, its nose cast downwards with squatting kidney grills, and a boot spoiler sitting proud like an old Saab 900’s are features that deserve to stay. These are already secured on the coupé version as presented last year, along with the inset rear light units which pin down the sculpted rear bumper in a manner similar to the Lexus LC.

Black glass encased rear lights, how very 90s – much approval here. Spectacular wheels, too.
The ‘plain’ 8 Series coupé concept

When & how?

We can expect the Gran Coupe to arrive sometime during 2019, following the two-door variant later this year. What could be very interesting is an opportunity to step up the M game above the current M5’s powertrain for this new flagship; those who always wondered about an M7, well now is your time. Otherwise, BMW’s latest cross-referencing nightmare of an engine range could include such delights as their B57 quad-turbo diesel straight six, petrol delicacies of the venerable six and eight cylinder varieties, or some hybrid creativity spanning 830e to 850e, depending on the logic prevailing in the marketing department that day. Maybe the V12, which could feature, will be the 870i? It still wouldn’t quite be a 1000SEC though.


You might be thinking, then: well done BMW, making a niche for yourself. But this is Jaguar territory; the low roofline luxury saloon of elegant brawn. And the XJ is due for replacement in 2019, so the leather gloved fists are up.

The CLS – your gardener could have one… well, probably the shooting brake version, but still.

It’s also going to anger the other Germans. Porsche’s Panamera is inevitably going to be all over it, only backing off over that visual impact and intrigue standard with the BMW. Meanwhile Audi’s RS7 has to reach a little too high to compete, and so does Mercedes-Benz’s CLS53AMG that, while wielding Stuttgart’s latest super-compressor-ultra-turbo-straight-six configuration, remains a car based on the smaller E-class and available with a 220d badge.

The shift that comes with (sort of) replacing the 6 series with the 8 creates a problem for everyone, provided BMW’s marketing men thought this out on a good day. Personally, developing the coupe-saloon concept into the flagship arena is a very attractive prospect. It’s a much better idea than the 3/5 series GTs they cooked up, and puts some difficult questions to the competition. Even the edgy Lexus LS begins to look a bit traditional in the face of a shifting definition of ‘luxury saloon’.

It could also spell trouble for the S-class, increasingly susceptible to becoming the perennial posh taxi. A Maybach coupe / swoopy saloon response would actually worsen this effect, but it would nonetheless be an exciting addition.

Mercedes-Benz and others, though, can respond as easily as BMW conceived the 8 series GC: take a now commonplace modular platform, brew some coffee for the marketing department, and spur on the engineers. Something even easier, to which I look forward no less, is the Alpina adaptation destined to appear. There certainly are still some good things about the auto-industry today.

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Concept likely to be tamed a little before series production.

The Alpina B7 (7 series), like a German Daimler for BMW.

BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Alpina photography courtesy of their respective press resources.

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