Eight Is Greater than Six

The issue with giving cars numbers rather than names is highlighted by proliferating model count: Automakers are starting to run out of digits. Audi already applies every integer between 1 and 8 to at least one derivative, albeit prefixed by a variety of different letters. Now BMW faces another almost-full house, bringing the 8-series back after what will be, by the time the car goes on sale, a 19-year hiatus.

And in another example of history repeating itself, this 8-series also is going to replace the 6-series, just as the last car to carry the badge did when it was launched in 1989. Like the outgoing 6-series, the 8-series will encompass three variants: a two-door coupe, a four-door Gran Coupe, and a cabriolet, all of which are to be launched next year. (The 6-series designation won’t disappear; instead, it will be applied to the replacement for the 5-series Gran Turismo hatchback.)

The first of these, the new 8-series coupe, is the car previewed by this concept, which has been unveiled at Italy’s Villa d’Este concours on Lake Como. Although officially a concept, we’re assured that the design of the finished car will hew closely to that promised here, with a minor front-end tweak to satisfy pedestrian-impact standards, and proper door mirrors in place of the concept’s minimalist ones. Exterior bodywork will be effectively unchanged, even those slim headlights will remain. These are laser units incorporating a new, hexagonal take on BMW’s characteristic twin-ring running lights.

The exterior heralds a return of some of the muscularity that BMW has removed from recent models, and it looks more than capable of kicking sand in the face of the current 6-series. The concept has pronounced rear haunches and an aggressive rear bumper incorporating oversized exhaust finishers. The 8-series also marks a welcome evolution of BMW’s commitment to air vents in the front fender, with a sizable exit behind the front wheels in place of the tacked-on-looking air…

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