1990s nostalgia leads to a new BMW coupe with a familiar nameplate

For once, the rampant rumors were accurate. The 8 Series nameplate is returning to the BMW lineup after nearly two decades of absence.

While a production model is right around the corner, BMW will first whet our appetite by introducing a close-to-production concept car at the prestigious Villa d’Este Concours d’Elegance taking place May 26-28 in central Italy. After leaked images were posted on an online forum, BMW revealed the 8 Series concept in full well ahead of that event.

BMW resisted the urge to go retro and borrow styling cues like pop-up headlights and angular lines from the original 8 Series. Instead, the concept eschews the land shark look in favor of a muscular design accented by curves and pronounced haunches. The concept’s design bodes well for the eventual 8 Series production model.

As its name suggests, the 8 Series will slot above the 7 Series sedan in the BMW hierarchy. It will serve as the company’s flagship, and it will fight in the same segment as the Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe. To live up to its range-topper status, the coupe will likely offer a powerful, turbocharged V8 engine or a silky-smooth V12. It’s not too far-fetched to speculate a plug-in hybrid model capable of zero-emissions driving will join the lineup a little later in the production run. BMW has promised to launch a gas-electric variant of every model in its portfolio, after all. But the automaker won’t confirm any powertrain details just yet.

The air of exclusivity carriers over to the interior. The shifter and the controller for BMW’s iDrive infotainment system are made from Swarovski glass, and almost every surface is covered in leather, aluminum, or carbon fiber. At the same time, the carbon-fiber shell sport seats show that BMW didn’t forget about sportiness.

“The 8 Series Coupe will build on our tradition of luxurious sports coupes and add a genuine dream car to our lineup — a slice of pure automotive fascination. It will underpin our claim to leadership in the luxury segment. I can tell you today that this will be a true luxury sports coupe,” BMW chairman Harald Krüger promised in a statement.

The 8 Series concept debuting in July at Villa d’Este previews “a model which BMW is set to introduce in a similar form in the coming year,” according to a second press release from the automaker. That means the new 8 Series will likely hit our shores in time for the 2019 model year. 2019 will also mark the 30th anniversary of the original model. Coincidence? We think not.

Updated on 05-25-2017 by Ronan Glon: added leaked picture.

Updates on 05-25-2017 by Stephen Edelstein: added more official information and  photos.