Is it an M8 GTS? Is it a mid-engined i8 successor? Or is it something else completely?
By Sam Sheehan / Friday, May 21, 2021 / Loading comments
While most spy pictures from the ‘ring provide a glimpse of models we already know to be in the pipeline, occasionally the bush-worrying team in Germany capture something unexpected. Take this car; a quick glance suggests we’re looking a higher-grade M8, perhaps a GTS, which is predictable enough. But look a little closer and you’ll spot some odd new features, like big radiators visible through grilleless kidneys, side vents in the rear windows and, no less significant, a part-covered back window. It’s a mystery as to what BMW’s engineers are testing. Our snapper excitedly proposed the prospect of it being mid-engined.
Such a development is certainly not out of the question, what with BMW’s design boss, Adrian von Hooydonk, having hinted last year at the prospect of a plug-in successor to the i8 in interviews. Such a model would presumably be mid-engined like its predecessor, potentially meaning that the 8 Series bodywork is hiding a completely new platform underneath. Or else BMW has tinkered with its existing architecture at great expense. If, indeed, there is something more substantial aft of the driver than back seats.
With no official word from BMW – the UK press team has remained decidedly tight-lipped – and little more than a hopeful promise from von Hooydonk, the 8 Series here is a true UDO (like a UFO, but it’s being driven). How exciting. Certainly we can expect something highly powered, because there’s a GTS-aping rear wing on the back, the brakes are M8 big and there are four exhaust tailpipes poking through a diffuser. Combined, the parts represent a mild upgrade over the spec of an additional development car – or potentially the same one – that was spotted last September.
Handily, that car was captured on video, when the very distinctive howl of a six-cylinder engine could be heard. That suggests it isn’t a development machine for a higher-rank M8, because the M model uses BMW’s twin-turbo 4.4-litre V8. Meaning it’s something different. The footage from that 2020 video confirms that it’ll be appropriately rapid, both in a straight line and around corners, so it’s likely to be an M-tuned model at the very least. We don’t spot any plug port covers to confirm if it’s a hybrid or not, so it’s hard to confirm either way. The car’s identity remains a mystery. Speculation welcome below.
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