Street Credibility: The new BMW 8er Coupé

At first glance, the new BMW 8 Series Coupé can hardly be distinguished from its predecessor. Awesome.
Text Matthias Mederer
Photo Enes Kucevic

The safety precautions are in line with the usual standards of the automotive industry: Sign a multi-page embargo, full of rather important-sounding legal phrases and not sparing with correspondingly severe penalties for misconduct; on site, the cameras (front and back) of your cell phone are taped off, and only then are you granted access to the top-secret photo location in a studio. There the new BMW 8 Series Coupé stands, free and open, just as the designers created it.

At first sight, an appropriately long silence is meant to express both the seriousness and appreciation of this privileged moment, as well as a sense of competence. (Admittedly, the latter is often a bit faked). Normally, however, even a completely incompetent layman will at least notice visual differences to the familiar and well-known predecessor. That' s not the case with the new 8 Series Coupé.

First thought: we could have put it in the middle of Munich's Odeonsplatz, right next to a model of its predecessor with the M package, and probably no one would have noticed. (In fact, the M Sport package is now standard, as a subtle hint of innovation). The essential usual suspects, i.e. the front skirt or headlights look almost completely unchanged, something seems to have been done to the radiator grille. More on that later.

Because the first question is:
What do we think of this?

And the spontaneous answer is: fitting!

The 8 Series Coupé fulfills a very special role in the BMW product cosmos. If BMW were a city-state (which would not be that far-fetched a thought in Bavaria), then the 8 Series Coupé would have a representative role to play in it. The 8 Series Coupé is the face of the brand, the epitome of what is meant by the family motto: The joy of driving. Confident consistency and reliability as a strict counterposition to hysterical volatility and arbitrary actionism are just as important for the brand perception of the 8 Series Coupé as its performance. More than any other model, the 8 Series Coupé in particular has an almost statuesque commitment in the spirit of a statue of David, on which there really must be nothing that is not David.

In this respect, BMW has done a very good job with the 8 Series Coupé. Revising it now, almost three years after its launch, was certainly no easy task. Every change needs to be rethought not just once, but two or three times. Of course, there is a certain seriousness to it. Anyone who likes to cut corners at this stage will quickly be exposed as a phony. BMW's most important decision was therefore to equip the new 8 Series Coupé with the M sports package by default.

The 8 Series Coupé is the face of the brand, the epitome of what is meant by the family motto »The joy of driving«.

This makes sense not only because it is a very powerful sports GT, but also because it is actually derived from motorsport and its - at least visually - brother, the M8 GTE. M alloy rims, M sports brake system, M sports differential (for the V8 models), it is above all the insignia of power that have a coherent and striking effect and sharpen the character. Authentic, in fact. This continues in the interior. Worth mentioning: the control display has been minimally enlarged and now aims to offer better connectivity through increased ease of use. That, too, is a contribution to performance, at least in the premium luxury segment. And in the year of 2022.

Still, there has to be some eye-catching feature in a facelift. And here the radiator grille comes into play once again, the BMW kidney as it should be accurately called. The kidney now has a new design, with a U-shaped profile. And the kidney lights up from the inside. BMW calls this Iconic Glow. And it is precisely at this point that one encounters a theme that somewhat detracts from the successful overall impression of the BMW 8 Series Coupé, because inevitably the words of Jeffrey Zeldman, designer and entrepreneur from the USA, come suddenly to mind, he recently tweeted: »Content precedes design. Design without content is not design, it's decoration.«

With that, Zeldman exposes what is perhaps the most visually striking feature of the new 8 Series Coupe as decoration. There's no content to justify an illuminated grille on a sports car GT - unless you're a gangsta rapper stuck in the 2000s with a credible ghetto past and the street cred to match. Or you're driving in the World Endurance Championship and want to mark your car at night for better distinguishability for TV and fans. For the sake of kindness and completeness, it should be mentioned at this point that both cases are not completely inconceivable in connection with the BMW 8 Series Coupé. For 99.9 percent of customers, however, an illuminated radiator grille does not reflect the slightest content.

For the sake of completeness, it should be mentioned that this is of course not allowed while driving.

What is much more important is that the 8 Series Coupé is a pioneering style statement for the 8 Series in general. Accordingly, the Cabriolet and the Gran Coupé can also be derived. Technically, all derivatives are available as gasoline engines with straight-six or V8. And as a diesel. Rear-wheel drive is only available for the straight-sixes. The V8 engines - as the M850i - shake 750 Newton meters out of the 4.4 liters of displacement. That's where the all-wheel drive makes sense.

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