The dream of the 1990s is alive in Munich. Thirty years after the original BMW 8-Series replaced the shark-nosed BMW 6-Series, the 2019 BMW M850i xDrive unveiled Friday at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in France takes the place of the automaker's recently discontinued 6-Series coupe.
The new 8-Series revives an historic nameplate, but it looks toward the future with its crisp bodywork, 523-horsepower twin-turbo V-8, and intelligent stop-start system that can read the road ahead to determine when to cut the engine to reduce emissions.
Unlike the original 8-Series, the new model doesn't feature pop-up headlights. Instead, its sinewy body has a distinctive coupe-like profile. Wide, angular individual kidney grilles link the M850i to BMW's other models up front, but the narrow taillights and complex rear diffuser design at the rear help it stand on its own. Squint and there are hints of the high-performance hybrid BMW i8—and maybe a little of the Infiniti Q60.
Inside, the 2019 8-Series breaks more new ground. Its symmetrical, vertically oriented dash stands apart from the rest of BMW's more horizontal designs. The infotainment screen that juts out of the M850i's dash is joined by a standard head-up display system. On the options list are two audio upgrades—a Harman Kardon unit and a 1,375-watt Bowers & Wilkins system, both with 16 speakers.
The 8-Series will go on sale in fall of 2018 initially as the M850i xDrive with a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8 rated at 523 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque. Power flows to all four wheels via an 8-speed automatic transmission with standard paddle shifters. That's a lot of power, and it will launch the M850i to 60 mph in just 3.6 seconds, but the car will weigh in the neighborhood of 4,500 pounds when it goes on sale here.
BMW promises an enthusiast-oriented driving experience for the M850i. An adaptive suspension developed by its M performance division features different parameters for the four drive modes—Eco, Comfort, Sport, and Sport+. Active rear steering that moves the rear wheels up to 2.5 degrees should help the new BMW coupe feel more stable at high speed and more nimble at lower velocities. Optional active roll bars will reduce lean into corners.
Uniquely, BMW says that the 8-Series' navigation system and the sensors and cameras included in the optional advanced driver-assist gear communicate with the stop-start system to determine the optimal time to turn off the engine. In instances such as intersections with yield signs, the system won't turn off the engine.