Dedicated BMW owners always knew. They have long and very happy memories when it comes to the big 8 Series coupés of the 1990s, and there was always talk that Bayerische Motoren Werke would revive the Series 8 legacy, reinvent it. Now there is a powerful, beautiful new Concept 8 Series sports coupé from one of the world’s great car makers.
BMW is one of the most successful marques in racing, from providing, probably, the most successful engine ever for Formula One (the straight-four M10), through to decades of dominance on the road in touring and rally cars. “It is a company close to my heart,” says Adrian van Hooydonk, senior vice-president of BMW Group Design. “Driving is close to my heart, too; expressing movement in metal – it’s what I love.”
The BMW Concept 8 Series is a two-door coupé, bigger, wider, lower. “Our aim was to make it sportier than ever before, more dynamic,” says van Hooydonk, “hence the new ‘fast back’ roof profile. That sets it apart from our heritage cars. Always we think of what the brand needs tomorrow. Innovation comes from art, industrial design, travelling, talking to people. Our history is rich, and we are always trying to make it richer.”
Each generation of car buyers wants to see something new. What defines this era? “It’s complicated,” he says. “This is an information society and people want what technology can deliver, but these are also restless times. We are always trying to capture that zeitgeist and reflect it in design.”
Both technology and high design are prominent in this new car. The marque’s pedigree means a certainty of both power and performance, and that is plainly on show in the design aesthetic. This car is built to run well enough for even the most restless, but in complete comfort. The digital cockpit is sculpted around the driver, with the centre console stretching up and over the dashboard. Behind the wheel, everything you need to function is within reach. At the same time, the interior seems cleaner and more modern; it’s a more integrated design approach.
The big concept coupé took a year to design and build. “That’s pretty quick,” says van Hooydonk. “It means you commit to decisions and go with them, it’s a process of creation that has to come from the heart as well as the head.” He believes a great car has to have a certain “handwriting”. “You must trust your vision, and not tinker too much. I think this concept car is a great example of that instinctive approach working very well.
“The conundrum we are trying to solve in every BMW design project is that when a car comes out it should be very new and very surprising, but 40 years later people should still like looking at it. You need to be bold to achieve both newness and timelessness. It sounds contradictory but that is what we always strive for.”
To make that happen, to create a timeless machine for fast-moving times, BMW has simplified its design language, with economy of line and sculpture. That means, when you look at this new Concept 8 Series, that you see sharpness and precision, and a startling sleekness through the way the design team has achieved light and shadow on the car’s exterior. If you look closely enough, you can even see the future.