The Car Connection BMW 8-Series Overview
The BMW 8-Series returns to the German automaker's lineup for the 2019 model year, after a 21-year absence. Offered in coupe and convertible body styles, the 2019 8-Series has grown immensely as it has vaulted to more than $112,000 base.
With the 8-Series, BMW replaces the former 6-Series family of two- and four-doors. By 2020, the 8-Series family will include a Gran Coupe sedan and an M8 coupe, but for 2019, it's offered as the M850i xDrive, with a metal roof or a fabric one. Both versions share a hippy, voluptuous style that does all it can to mask the massive two-door's size. Weighing in at between 4,400 and 4,700 pounds, the 2019 8-Series won't be body-shamed: It's a stunner, with a huge twin-nostril grille, thin LED headlights, deep side sculpting and a svelte tail, it wears a look sure to be timeless.
Power comes from a twin-turbo 4.4-liter V-8 engine, rated at 523 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque. That brute force goes through an 8-speed automatic to all four wheels. It's hefty, but that show of power means the 8-Series can reach 60 mph in 4.1 seconds, and can run to a 155-mph top speed. Electric power steering, an adaptive suspension, and meaty tires on staggered wheels give it tremendous grip and grand-touring ride quality.
Extravagantly adjustable front seats pair up with a very small pair of rear buckets in the new 8-Series. The trunk is very small, too. Fit and finish are stellar, and the 8-Series brandishes digital displays across its dash as standard equipment. It also gets automatic emergency braking and a surround-view camera system, a head-up display, leather upholstery, 20-inch wheels, and navigation. On the options list: Bowers & Wilkins premium audio, adaptive cruise control, and blind-spot monitors.
BMW 8-Series history
Built from 1989-1999 worldwide, and sold during 1990-1997 model years in the U.S., the first-generation BMW 8-Series represented the height of style, luxury, and performance for BMW. As the brand's flagship grand tourer during its run, the 8-Series exemplified sleek, sporty looks and fierce power, and remains a sought-after example of the German brand's engineering today.
Ahead of its time in many ways, the 8-Series, or E31 as it was designated internally, was positioned above the less expensive, less powerful 6-Series, and as a result, saw relatively low production numbers despite its good looks and impressive powertrains. A total of just over 30,000 8-Series were built worldwide, with about 7,000 of those sent to North America.
Over the 8-Series' model run, a sequence of V-8 and V-12 engines were offered. At launch in the U.S., a 4.0-liter M60 V-8 was standard in the 840Ci, rated at 282 horsepower. Later in the model run, the 840Ci was updated to a new 4.4-liter M62 V-8 rated at the same 282 horsepower figure.
The V-12-powered 850i and 850Ci started with a 5.0-liter M70, rated at 296 horsepower, eventually upgrading (in 850Ci form) to the 322-horsepower 5.4-liter M73 V-12. The 850CSi offered from 1993-1995 used a 372-horsepower 5.6-liter S70 V-12. the 8-Series offered a range of 4- and 5-speed automatics and a six-speed manual transmission over its model run. It was also one of the first cars to be fitted with a "fly-by-wire" electronic throttle.
Despite the obvious focus on powertrains, the 8-Series was also about luxurious touring capabilities, rather than outright performance. Electronically controlled dampers, leather upholstery, heated electric-adjust seats, wood trim, a range of in-car phones (it was the '90s), and a range of M Division upgrades were available.
Since the early 2000s, the 8-Series has risen in collectibility, in part due to its low volume, but also due to its unique style and impressive (particularly in 850Csi V-12 form) engines and performance.