The BMW 8 Series returns

By: Alex Affat, Unique Cars magazine

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BMW 8 Series BMW 8 Series

BMW’s venerable super-coupe has returned after almost 20 years. How does it compare?

The original BMW E31 8 series ended production in 1999, and was the flagship coupe of the Bavarian marque.

Sleek, and awash with leather, the E31 wasn’t just a luxurious slow cruiser. With V8 and V12 engines between the 840i and 850i, for nearly a decade, the 8 Series held the claim of BMW’s biggest and baddest offering.

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This weekend, almost 20 years after the last 8 series rolled off the production line, it returned.

Rekindling the venerable uber-sedan of the past, the new BMW 8 Series offers sleek design, luxury and stonking performance in equal measure.

With the flagship BMW M8 still under wraps, the curtain fell on the second highest-grade 850i over the weekend; featuring BMW’s most powerful non-M branded V8 engine ever.

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Under the long swooping bonnet sits BMW’s 4.4lt twin turbo V8, and boasts a stunning 390kW and 750Nm.

That’s a 56% power increase and a 60% increase in torque over the old E31 850i, whose hallmark was a glorious 5.0lt V12 capable of 221kW and 450Nm.

Perhaps the most marked departure in the new 8 Series, and frequenting BMW’s newest crop of high-performance cars, is the use of all-wheel drive.  Subsequently however, given the extra all-paw traction, the new car will launch from a standstill to triple digits in just 3.7 seconds.

Motoring publications at the time pegged the E31 850i’s 0-100 sprint time at 6.3 seconds. Stunning for the time, but paled in comparison by almost 20 years of progress.

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But while performance increases are welcome, increasing figures behind weight and size are often points of critique when compared with cars of old.

Pleasantly surprising however, is how little mass the new 8 Series has gained. The new car is just 63mm longer, 47mm wider and only 11mm taller than its predecessor. The wheelbase for the box-fresh 8 Series however is 138mm longer.

Similarly, with the marginal increase in dimensions, comes an equally pleasant, marginal increase in weight. Just 100kg thanks to the new car’s extensive use of lightweight materials such as BMW's signature carbon core.

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While no local pricing has been announced for the new car yet, a new BMW 650i would see you shell out somewhere around $250,000. It’s safe to assume you’ll need to save a few more pennies for the box-fresh 850i.

While that does sound like a lot, bear in mind that the flagship E31 850i when new was nearly $200,000. And that’s in 1990s dollars!

Speaking of which, E31 8 Series can be had for a relative bargain, with both V8 840is and V12 850is both available for around $50,000 on the secondhand market, and are possibly at the lowest of their depreciation curve. It’s a lot of car for the money, with plenty of upside potential in the future.

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We’ll take a closer look at the venerable E31 in an upcoming issue of UniqueCars, so keep your eyes peeled, as they’re one of the most capable and stylish cruisers you can buy!

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