The 8, the next Ultimate Driving machine – a driving experience you do not want to miss out on!

…and it is keeping its promise! Remember where I left you last time? All I will say is „Honigkuchenpferd“, I was surely grinning like one…

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I can finally take you with me experiencing THE 8, on track and across Portugal’s beautiful coastline – is it BMW’s next ULTIMATE DRIVING MACHINE?

THE 8, is a two-door grand tourer and marketed as BMW’s new flagship car, replacing the 6-series. It will be on sale before the end of November.

My personal highlight in terms of design elements of THE 8 is, of course, the famous Double-Bubble, found on the roof. A reference to traditional sports car design, as BMW calls it. Really it is Zagato’s trademark, a coachbuilder using high strength, lightweight building methods–often forming body panels in aluminum

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After World War II, Ugo Zagato created a new design concept called “Panoramica,” characterized by a tall, streamlined roof inset with extra-large, compound-curved windows. This basic body design was patented in 1948 and applied to many cars through the early 1950s.

It was around that same time that Zagato conceived another concept, one also based in aerodynamic studies and designed to provide an advantage on the race track. Reducing frontal area and overall height lowers wind resistance, so his compromise between a small frontal area and retaining driver and passenger comfort (and headroom for a racing helmet) was to blister an otherwise low roofline with a bulge over each seat. This treatment also added strength to the thin aluminum roof panel.

The Double-Bubble, as this roof treatment became known, was first used on some of the later 1952-1955 Fiat 8V Competiziones that Zagato bodied, and it was subsequently used on privately commissioned one-offs like the lovely 1954 Maserati A6G/54 2000 Zagato Coupe and 1957 AC Ace Bristol Zagato Coupe.

This feature also mimics the rush of air rearwards along the roof at high speeds.

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Optically matches the new 8 Series Coupé the 2017 shown BMW Concept 8 Series. The front with the typical “Sharknose” is dominated by the mighty double kidney, exactly like we saw in the study. In the tread the typical BMW proportions are to be found: gigantic front, long wheelbase, ducked silhouette and highlighted wheel arches. Thus the new 8 reminds very much of the legendary 8 E31, which came on the market in 1989 and is known today as a design icon. More on the 8th appearance and world premiere experience? Head over to my previous article during the 24-hours-Le Mans world premiere of THE 8.  And here the gallery. 

 

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The idea behind the new 8 Series was to offer the highest level of luxury possible in a Gran Tourer without sacrificing performance nor comfort. To help keep the big grand tourer as light as possible, aluminium and CFRP (carbonfibre reinforced plastic) is used. The roof, doors, bonnet and front bulkhead are aluminium, while the centre transmission tunnel through the cockpit is made of CFRP. The result of these lightweight body parts in combination with the overall theme “designed from track to road” is for the 8 to be considered the fastest non-M car ever made by the Bavarians, with an impressive 0 to 62 mph (100 km/h) sprint in just 3.7 seconds, and an equally impressive low center of gravity which is godsend on any race track.

I can’t wait to find out myself…

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The 8 is flat on track, it feels nimble, it turns with immediacy – it’s a perfectly balanced driving machine, combines imposing lateral and longitudinal dynamic performances. The rear-wheel function together with the differential lock of the xDrive ensure maximum agility & precision when being put to test. With its rapid, precise and fully variable distribution of drive torque between the front and rear wheels, it maximises traction and handling stability not just when driving in adverse road conditions, but in highly dynamic driving situations too – such as the uphill left-hander of Turn 9 and the immediate hard right into Turn 10.

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Attributes you can feel immediately: Minimised weight, a low centre of gravity and well-balanced weight distribution, plus an optimal wheelbase, wide tracks, a stiff body structure and excellent aerodynamics form the ideal basis for a vehicle set-up that is geared squarely to refining agility and dynamics, while also offering a high level of comfort. The grip of the front tires perfectly communicated through the steering wheel. This composure sets me up nicely for the esses of Turns 11 and 12, and then powering through the final Parabolica Ayrton Senna, a roar of V8 thrust setting me up for incredible velocity down the super-long front straight.

If you want to have fun on track without compromising comfort and have a big smile on your face – this car is YOUR car!

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It’s not just a straight-line assault weapon, either. The M850i makes quick work of corners, with solid communication delivered through both the steering and chassis. The 8’s Sport and Sport Plus driving modes are not only bringing more heft to the action of the wheel, but giving you a better sense of what’s actually happening at tire level, too.

The brake-by-wire system, the new braking system cuts the physical link between the pedal and the brake system itself. The brake pedal becomes just an interface through which the driver informs the car how much they want to slow the car down, the car then interprets that input, and activates the brakes. Sensors and actuators read the amount of pressure a driver inputs, and this force is transferred to all the brakes from the master cylinder using hydraulic fluid.

Meaning, even when the brakes get heated, the driver will experience the same behaviour as before – same brake point, same travel, same characteristics. Nothing more I could ask on track and pushing it’s limits.

I have the possibility to get a private session on track with Philipp Eng, the BMW Motorsport Factory Driver. He is leading the way with one goal in mind – to guide me through the fast track in Estoril. It’s known, that the former Formula 1 driver favours cars with a lot of power and immediate torque. Estoril, a track with plenty of fast corners and long straights and plenty of possibilities to put all that power down and take the car to its top speeds. Later on he is showing me what the car is truly capable of and demonstrates its limits, with me on the passenger seat – impressive!

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IT GOES LIKE HELL !

Taking the car from track to road, one feels the concept become alive. In the end, this is a Gran Tourer for the luxurious customer who enjoys taking long drives in exquisite places. Now with the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the mountains surrounding Sintra on the other – one beautiful scene to test all attributes in a more daily-drive situation.

Every M850i gets BMW’s Adaptive M suspension, with electronically controlled dampers that constantly adjust compression and rebound rates at all four corners. Whether in the default Comfort setting, the adjust-as-you-go Adaptive mode, or the Sport profiles, the M850i offers a compliant and nicely controlled ride.

The 8 is THE statement of BMW, showing that they can (still) build top-notch driver’s cars without sacrificing luxury and comfort.

For everyone interested in some more technical data:

  • BMW M850i xDrive • 8-cylinder petrol engine • 4395 ccm • 390 kW (530 PS) at 5500 till 6000 U/min • max. Torque: 750 Nm till 1800 U/min • 0-100 km/h in 3,7 s • Topspeed: 250 km/h • 10,0 – 10,5 l/100 km • Available from 125.700 Euro.
  • BMW 840d xDrive • 6-cylinder diesel engine• 2993 ccm • 235 kW (320 PS) at 4400 U/min • max. Torque: 680 Nm at 1750 till 2250 U/min • 0-100 km/h in 4,9 s • Topspeed: 250 km/h • 5,9 – 6,2 l/100 km • Available from 100.000 Euro.

Shots by Enes Kucevic:

Shots provided by BMW:

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