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Luxury and power in harmony: BMW’s new concept coupé

BMW designer Martina Starke has integrated a firmer focus on luxury without compromising on sportiness and power

Martina Starke, BMW’s head of brand vision and brand design, and the new BMW Concept 8 Series
Martina Starke, BMW’s head of brand vision and brand design, and the new BMW Concept 8 Series

The new BMW Concept 8 Series, gracing the covers of the world’s car magazines, will morph into an actual production model in 2018. Stationary in most of the publicity photos, it seems poised, like a big, beautiful hunting animal before the chase. The car looks like it can’t wait to pull out onto the planet’s fast and winding roads, with the big side intakes in the front apron sucking torque and horsepower into whatever high-performance engine is finally chosen.

The new BMW Concept 8 Series’ carbon fibre seats, trimmed in merino leather with hand-stitched piping
The new BMW Concept 8 Series’ carbon fibre seats, trimmed in merino leather with hand-stitched piping

BMW’s head of brand vision and brand design, Martina Starke, says, “The BMW heritage is sporting, and it generates high emotions because of that. In the BMW Concept 8 Series, we have delivered the performance of a sportscar but with a luxurious ambience as well.”

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Luxury is unexpectedly abundant here, in a car with such guaranteed road-holding and power. The interior cocoons the driver like a racecar, but far more comfortably. “Luxury is about every second in your life,” says Starke. “It’s about time, personal time, a very personal experience. We have emphasised the quality of materials, so that our customers can really feel they are driving something special.” The carbon fibre seats are shells (emphatically sporting), but also trimmed in merino leather with decorative perforations, the piping applied by hand, exquisitely stitched. The spars on the steering wheel are polished aluminium trimmed at the top with Alcantara, the iDrive controller is made from smoky Swarovski glass. Starke calls this balancing classical luxury with progressive luxury.

The restyled BMW signature kidney grille on the new BMW Concept 8 Series
The restyled BMW signature kidney grille on the new BMW Concept 8 Series

It is a car of such different aspects: in profile, the fluid look of the paint finish is almost kinetic. From the front, the restyled BMW signature kidney grille simply implies an eagerness for speed. At the rear, the protruding tail lights and trapezoidal exhaust finishers suggest the thrust that will keep this coupé ahead of the competition, literally as well as stylistically.

The new BMW Concept 8 Series’ iDrive controller, made from smoky Swarovski glass
The new BMW Concept 8 Series’ iDrive controller, made from smoky Swarovski glass

“If you see the car from the side you can see that we formed the design language with only two lines,” says Starke. As the lines reduce, the power of the car’s silhouette increases. Less is more. We are aiming for a dynamic driving experience, and that is evident at the first glimpse of the proportions of the car.”

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With the long bonnet and the short overhang, the sheer vitality of this coupé is designed to reflect the high mobility of a new era. “We ask ourselves ‘What is the reason why?’” she explains, “‘Why are we building this car?’ Once the goal is clearly defined, we think ‘How do we achieve this?’ We have a buyer-focused context: How are people living now? How are they travelling? What do they want for their lives?’ When we ask these questions, it becomes not just a matter of designing a car, but more importantly designing a car specifically for them and their future needs. We want a special character in a car like this, so we work on the visual imagery that will define it, and proceed from there.”

The imagery is powerful, so there is desire, but need follows closely behind. Starke’s team knows that. “In the very first second when getting inside the car you ask ‘What is its character, what is it about this car that I like?’ Then you ask yourself how it feels: ‘Do I like the way I am positioned? Do I have control here? Is there comfort, practicality?’ We think very hard about all of that.”

They think hard so that the owner can focus on driving. The car’s interior functions are grouped into control clusters with incredibly high-resolution display graphics. “For us it is always about the emotions of the customer,” she says. “I like to see smiles, I am proud to work on a car as good as this. More than that, I believe what our team has achieved with the new Series 8 coupé will have an impact on the society of the future. The coming age will demand mobility: we will need to be mobile, comfortable, excited by our surroundings and highly connected. We have designed a car that shows the way forward. It is a proud feeling.”

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