The first major highlight at the 24 Hours of Le Mans has already taken place, well before the race has even begun.
As the new BMW 8 Series Coupe has made its world premiere this evening as the production counterpart of the BMW M8 GTE racing car, in which six BMW works drivers will be battling for a good result on Saturday and Sunday.
Externally, the road-going car measures 4,843 mm long, 1,902 mm wide, and 1,341 mm tall, but visually its lines are not quite as streamlined or as dynamic as those of the concept car that previewed it, which was revealed at last year’s Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este in Italy.
According to Sarah Lessmann, the car’s global product manager, certain design tweaks – such as flattening the shark nose grille – have had to be made because of “legal requirements”. Nonetheless, the production version still manages to have the slimmest headlights of any BMW model to date.
In terms of power, when the car launches later on in November this year, it will come in two variants: An M850i xDrive performance version with a 4.4-litre V8 delivering 523 bhp, 554 lb-ft of torque and a 0-62 mph time of 3.7 seconds; and an 840d xDrive powered by a 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder developing 316 bhp and 501 lb-ft of torque, with a 0-62 mph time of 4.9 seconds. Top speed for both is limited to 155 mph.
BMW is keen to stress that the two-door coupé has been developed concurrently and in conjunction with the M8 GTE endurance racer, saying its motorsport and production engineers worked closely together throughout the entire process.
“We normally develop cars for the road and then get these ready for the racetrack. The BMW 8 Series represents the first time that we have approached this in a different way: We developed the car and competed successfully in races with it,” said BMW development boss Klaus Fröhlich, who revealed the new model in Le Mans alongside the company’s design chief, Adrian van Hooydonk. “We have used this experience for the road version. From the racetrack to the road – you feel that every second.”