When BMW introduced the 8-Series in 1989 for the first time, it was considered among the most desirable models built in that decade by the Munich Germany-based manufacturer. With its unconventional looks, advanced engineering, performance and handling, it was a hit when launched and had a long career spanning a decade. Meanwhile, automotive priorities changed and BMW focused on more profitable products like compacts and SUVs.
However, the idea of a GT was never abandoned and to test waters BMW previewed a concept 8-Series at the 2017 Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este. The feedback received prompted the carmaker to green light its production and the Gen II 8 Series made its formal debut at the 2018 24 Hours of Le Mans race in France a few days ago.
The incoming 8 Series stands out as a landmark model in a BMW Coupe lineage that dates back to the 1930s. Fluid design cues, smooth sheetmetal, definitive GT proportions and profile besides cutting engineering re-affirm the commitment to the model.
The car boasts of unique styling with most of the design cues remaining faithful to the concept car including the bigger kidney grille, double bubble-style roof and aerodynamic kit like active air flap control grille slats, air curtain and air breathers. The visible difference between the concept and production model is the shortened bonnet, softened air scoops on the doors and side skirts. However, the concept’s remaining features like the elongated quarter windows, the heavily raked rear windscreen and wraparound taillights have been carried over.
The LED headlamps according the BMW are the thinnest that brand has ever offered and feature several unique laser technology applications.
As a 2+2 coupe, the cabin features the brand’s latest design and ergonomics package in a typical layout. These newly developed sports seats have integrated headrests and a semi-electric folding function on each seatback for easier entry and exit for the rear passengers. Merino Individual leather upholstery comes with contrast stitching while, pedals, driver’s footrest come from M-performance brand. It also has illuminated door sills and M badges on the steering wheel and the instrument cluster as part of the appearance package.
One interesting design feature is the wide centre console that rises toward the dashboard to separate the driver and front passenger areas. With ergonomics in mind, it hosts most of the control features for the audio system, the air conditioning control panel, air vents, and the freestanding and frameless infotainment display package which combines the 10.25-in screen with the fully digital, 12.3-in instrument cluster.
Since this day and age has dictated downsizing in displacement and reduced number of cylinders, the new 8-Series will not be available with a 12-cylinder engine anymore. Instead there will be forced fed 4.4-litre V8 new and highly advanced lightweight aluminium-alloy block, fully variable valve control, double-Vanos variable camshaft timing, and a flap-controlled exhaust system. It also has larger twin-scroll turbochargers and intake ports optimized for higher performance. Compare the output figures of the V8s 523hp at 5,500 – 6,000 rpm and 553lb-ft of torque between 1,800-4,600 rpm vs 300hp and 332 lb-ft from the 5.0-litre V12 then one can empathise with the engineering advancements the company has made. That’s not all. The 0-100km/h has vastly improved from 6.8secs to 3.6secs, which means this is a GT with supercar performance figures. Top speed is limited to 250km/h electronically.
The power reaches the wheels through an eight-speed Steptronic Sport transmission which comes with wider ratios and sportier gear shifts. Revised specifically for the model is the Launch Control feature for off-the-line sprints with maximum available traction. Shift paddles placed behind the steering wheel enable the driver to use a manual model to switch gears. For the first time the model is offered with all-wheel-drive system with rear-biased power delivery in default mode.
As expected, the new coupe rides on a bespoke suspension system that combines a double-wishbone front axle and a five-link rear axle. It also gets electromechanical steering and a powerful braking system developed specifically for this model. Shock absorber damping can be electronically controlled via the Driving Experience Control switch which offers Sport and Sport+ modes when activated. Meanwhile, the active steering helps reduce the car’s turning circle and increases agility at moderate speeds.
Latest safety features include a host of driver assistance technologies that turn it into a semi-autonomous vehicle. Personal Co-Pilot processes camera images and data provided by ultrasonic and radar sensors to monitor vehicle surrounds and take actions depending on the environment and the traffic around the car. The standard Cruise Control system includes automatic braking function and collision and pedestrian warning with automatic city braking function, while the optional active cruise control system adds stop and go capabilities. Auto parking feature will be available.
UK price: from £100,045
INFINITI Engineering Academy – Sifting for future tech leaders
Amidst the hustle and bustle of a Formula One weekend, there is a quiet revolution taking place. While most team bosses are scouting out and testing new driver talent, the folks at Renault F1 are taking their partnership with related luxury brand and title sponsor INFINITI to a new level by building on their multi-year effort to scout engineering talent.
And there is no better proof of their commitment to the program than the fact that this multi region competition run under the INFINITI Engineering Academy moniker has resulted in employment contracts to past participants.
The year ending race at Abu Dhabi served as the selection platform for participants from the Middle East region, with ten semi-finalists going into a protracted skills and strategy selection process that resulted in three finalists who were put through another set of skills contests after a session where invited media (including us) put various questions to them, with scoring input that added to the judges scores.
After this session, the three finalists moved on to the final challenge, which involved assembling a four-cylinder bank header with the series of pipes and splitter of the exhaust assembly. It was here that the region’s winner Fahim Choudhary won his opportunity to join the winners from the six other regions to participate in a year long internship program with the two companies in the United Kingdom, complete with a good salary, company car, travel and accommodation – six months with Renault Formula One’s facilities and a further six months at INFINITI’s European Technical Centre at Cranfield.
Fahim is a student with Lancaster University in Dubai.
Tommaso Volpe, Director, INFINITI Global Motorsport and Performance Projects, said: “The INFINITI Engineering Academy has grown every year, and now in our fifth year, competition for our limited number of slots is intense. Our partners at Renault Sport Formula One™ Team and Harvard University have helped us select the brightest engineering students from around the globe who will contribute to the future of the sport and the automotive industry.”
Cyril Abiteboul, Managing Director, Renault Sport Racing, also commented: “Attracting top new talent is crucial for success in Formula One™, so we want to make sure that together with INFINITI we select the best engineers to work for this programme. Each one of these young engineers brings fresh perspectives and new ideas to the race team, which are vital.”
Interestingly, this year’s edition of the program saw Harvard University involved with Dr. Julia Minson, an expert in decision science, involved in the process. Dr. Minson is working with the INFINITI Engineering Academy to conduct ground-breaking research into decision making in engineering, and how the very best engineers perform under pressure to make decisions when faced with vast amounts of complex data. The learnings from the research will then be incorporated by both the INFINITI engineering and motorsport teams to optimize their decision-making processes.