BMW 8 Series Coupe Returns After A 19-Year Hiatus

After nearly two decadesBMW’s six-figure, flagship luxury coupe is back. The 8 Series is slated to launch in 2018 to help do battle with Mercedes-Benz, which captured the global luxury sales crown from BMW last year.

BMW revealed the car’s prototype, the Concept 8 Series, this weekend at Italy’s Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este on Lake Como as a precursor to the 8 Series production model expected next year. The first-generation 8 Series was discontinued in 1999 after a 10-year run as the brand’s flagship coupe. The new model will replace BMW’s outgoing 6 Series coupe.

Meanwhile, at another high-profile European automotive event this weekend, the Nürburgring 24 Hours race in Germany, BMW teased a camouflaged prototype of the 8 Series’ high-performance, track-oriented counterpart, the M8.

Executives said the 8 Series launch is “part of the biggest model offensive in the company’s history” and will play an important role in BMW’s efforts to increase its sales in the luxury segment. “This will be the next model in the expansion of our luxury-car offering and will raise the benchmark for coupes in the segment,” Harald Krüger, chairman of the board of management for BMW AG, said in a statement. “In the process, we will strengthen our claim to leadership in the luxury class.”

The 8 Series concept revealed a full-size coupe featuring crisp lines, clean surfaces, and a sculpted silhouette. The M prototype shows elements that boost the 8 Series coupe’s power: bigger air intakes, modified brakes and a sports exhaust with four tailpipes.

“The conception and development of the standard BMW 8 Series and the M model run in parallel,” Frank van Meel, President BMW M Division, said in a statement. “The future BMW M8 will build on the genes of the 8 Series and augment its DNA with added track ability and generous extra portions of dynamic sharpness, precision and agility.”

BMW said it’s also developing a race car based on the 8 Series, called the M8 GTE, that will likely debut in January at the Rolex 24 at Daytona race in Florida.