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BMW’s born-again 8 Series will exist at the intersection of comfort and sport

Normally, it takes an eagle-eyed spy photographer to capture images of the camouflaged prototypes automakers don’t want the public to see. But BMW did want the public to see its new 8 Series coupe testing on twisty Welsh roads, so it went ahead and did the spy photographers’ job for them. It also released preliminary technical specifications about the first 8 Series of the 21st century.

When it arrives later this year, the 8 Series will aim for a higher level of luxury than any two-door Bimmer in recent memory while reviving one of the automaker’s most memorable 1990s nameplates. While the car is still heavily camouflaged, this is our best look yet at the new 8 Series in production spec.

Not that BMW hasn’t teased its new luxury coupe before. The production model’s styling will probably stay pretty close to the 8 Series concept car BMW unveiled last year. BMW has also taken a performance version, the M8, out for a public airing. It even has a racing version, the M8 GTE, that took to the track for the first time at the Rolex 24 at Daytona, the famous 24-hour race in Florida. This is a very odd way to unveil a new car.

At launch, the lineup will include a single model named M850i xDrive. Power will come from a redeveloped V8 engine rated at 530 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque. It will send its output to all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission — don’t look for a clutch pedal here — and a sport-tuned version of BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive system. The 8 Series will aim to offer a blend of mile-devouring comfort and track-ready performance.

BMW will offer a hot-rodded M8 alongside the standard M850i. No official specifications for this high-performance variant have been released, but it’s rumored that the M8 will use a version of the 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8 from the M5 sedan. While the M5 has 600 hp, the M8 could have up to 700 hp. And, expect at least one electrified variant (like a plug-in hybrid) to join the lineup sooner or later.

The 8 Series Coupe will shed its camouflage for a full public unveiling on the eve of this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans. Sales will start before the end of the year.

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