2018 BMW X2 dons an artsy disguise before its unveiling

By Chris Paukert

Small crossovers are as popular among coveted young consumers as "Game of Thrones" is these days, so it's no surprise that BMW is set to expand its model range with the new X2 previewed here.

The new compact SUV is expected to be very similar in execution to BMW's current X1, albeit with more streamlined "Sports Activity Coupe" bodywork. That's typically Bavarian parlance for "raked rear window," a styling change that has proven effective -- and profitable -- in models like the X4 and X6. 

However, as these first photos suggests, the X2 looks like it has a more vertically oriented backlight than its siblings would lead you to believe -- probably because its small footprint wouldn't allow for steeply angled rear glass. Instead, the X2 looks to have a less tapered windowline that should help preserve second-row headroom and cargo space.

The new X2 is expected to ride atop the same UKL platform as the aforementioned X1, a modular architecture that also underpins Mini's current product range. That means it's fair to assume all-wheel drive will be on offer, along with a version of 2.0-liter BMW TwinPower Turbo four-cylinder engine. In X1 guise, the latter is good for 228 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, enabling an official 0-60 mph time of 6.3 seconds.

As with its X1 relative, don't expect much in the way of off-road ability -- the fact that the first images of this model were taken in a cityscape is no accident -- BMW is explicitly targeting young urban buyers.

BMW hasn't said when the new X2 will bow, but given the timing of these official camouflage teaser images, a debut at September's Frankfurt Motor Show seems likely. 

Also unconfirmed are plans for North American sales, but it would be a surprise if it's not offered in here, as it's expected to carry higher profit margins than the already-successful X1. If and when the X2 does hit our market, expect base X2 pricing be higher than the (nearly $37,000) X1. A base MSRP nudging against the $40,000 barrier, where it would slot just underneath BMW's larger X3 seems likely.

Oxford plant to produce electric Mini, while BMW will also make an X3 full EV

By Paul Horrell - TopGear

A fully-electric version of the three-door Mini will go into production in late 2019, at the Oxford plant, says BMW. This is the first confirmation it’s the three-door car. The news is part of announcement of a future in which every single model series the company builds – Mini, BMW and Rolls-Royce – will be capable of accepting a plug-in hybrid or full-electric powertrain.

Previously BMW had said only that there would be an electric version of one of the Mini models. Given the difficulty of fitting many kWh-worth of batteries into the mini-est Mini, many people had assumed it would be a Clubman or Countryman that got the EV treatment.

Mini isn’t saying where the batteries will go. But it’s reasonable to assume a front motor, and some batteries under the central tunnel, back seat and boot floor.

There will also be an all-electric version of the newly announced BMW X3 in 2020.

The Mini is first time the Group will have sold a full-EV version of any of its conventional platforms. (There were experimental fleets of electric Minis in 2009 - pictured above - but their back seat was replaced by a huge battery. Then in 2011 there was a batch of 1 Series Coupes that seated four and proved-out the i3’s battery, electronics and motor.)

BMW already makes two types of modular PHEV system.

One of those fits the longitudinal-engined cars, sandwiching an electric motor between the petrol engine and the auto transmission. It’s fitted to the 330e, 530e, 740e and X5e. So it’s clear the potential exists to fit that to future generations of 2 Series Coupe, 4 Series and 6 Series. as well as the upcoming Rolls-Royce platform for the new Phantom and Cullinan SUV.

The other PHEV system is the one where one axle is driven by combustion and the other by electric. That’s the i8, 225Xe ActiveTourer, the Chinese-market plug-in X1, and the Mini Countryman Plug-In Hybrid (that one was launched as the Countryman S E All4, but they seem to have realised the little E badge wasn’t enough to get it noticed).

Then there’s the ‘range extender’ optional on the i3, but that’s not really a PHEV.

By 2025, the Group expects electrified vehicles to account for between 15-25 percent of sales. But remember, ‘electrification’ includes plug-in hybrids as well as EV. Because BMW is building EV capability into its mainstream platforms, it can be flexible if that sales proportion is lower or higher than the estimate. It’s a very different approach from the VW Group, Jaguar-Land Rover and Mercedes, which are all developing unique EV platforms rather like Tesla’s.

But BMW’s announcement does leave one thing unsaid. The company will still make pure combustion cars. Just three weeks ago, Volvo announced that after 2019, all newly introduced Volvos – every model – would have an electrified powertrain.

The gotcha was that Volvo wasn’t just talking about PHEV or full-EV. It also included ‘mild’ hybrids, which use a small 48-volt motor to start and supplement the engine, and recapture energy on braking. Volvo says a mild-hybrid petrol engine will cost no more to make than a clean non-hybrid diesel, and emit far less soot and NOx and about the same CO2.

So Volvo added it would likely stop developing new diesels after that date. These two statements – ‘everything electrified’ and ‘no new diesels’ – captured the imagination of news outlets everywhere, and Volvo found itself on the front pages of the papers and at the top of the BBC news. Whether news writers had grasped the difference between ‘electrified’ and ‘electric’ isn’t clear, but if not it was to Volvo’s enormous PR advantage.

BMW’s announcement is significant but doesn’t carry such a universal headline (though ‘electric Mini’ is clickbait).

Both, though, show the way the world’s going.

Microsoft partners with BMW to put Skype in cars

By Tom Warren - The Verge

Microsoft is expanding its partnership with BMW to enable Skype for Business in cars that use BMW’s iDrive system. BMW was one of the first car makers to enable Office 365 services in its cars, and this latest feature will let owners take Skype meetings in their cars through the built-in entertainment system.

The system will work by triggering notifications for meetings, allowing drivers to dial-in without having to enter the conference number details manually. BMW will also enable tighter integration with calendars, contacts, and to-do lists all from Microsoft’s Exchange service. BMW is planning to enable the Skype for Business feature in France, Germany, and the UK initially before it expanding it to other countries.

BMW also revealed earlier this year that it plans to integrate Microsoft’s Cortana digital assistant into some cars as part of Microsoft’s Connected Vehicle vision. BMW is planning to let drivers access Cortana through a dashboard screen, with the ability to easily access to-do lists, reminders, news, events, and other Cortana features.

BMW’s i3 battery now being used for Torqeedo’s electric boat motors

By Darrell Etherington - TechCrunch

BMW’s i3 high-capacity batteries, which it uses in its i3 compact electric vehicle, has applications beyond BMW’s own – case in point, the car maker is now supplying German boat propulsion system company Torqeedo with i3 batteries for its Deep Blue aquatic electric drive systems.

The Torqeedo systems provide motorboats with hybrid and electric propulsion ranging from 1 to 160 HP in capacity, and BMW says the adoption of its tech by the company is a testament to its ability to produce high voltage batteries for a range of applications in transport efficiency. The current version of the i3 battery has 44kWh capacity, providing 50 more charge with the same size and weight of the previous generation.

BMW designed i3 batteries to have ‘plug-and-play’ functionality, with in-house connectors, cables, sensors and temperature control systems in addition to the 12 cells found in each of the battery’s eight modules. The automaker intended from the outset to make the batteries usable in a range of different applications, including, for example, as energy storage in commercial power generation, where they can be useful even after they’ve passed their usable life in terms of powering vehicles.

A recent study found that the electric boat market would be worth $20 billion by 2027, so this is a market with huge growth potential for BMW, and Torqeedo is a partner that can help adapt their tech to a wide range of nautical applications.

BMW utilizing INRIX real-time parking feature to help drivers find a spot for new 5 Series sedan

BY KURT SCHLOSSER 

When it comes to in-car connectivity and navigation features, getting from point A to point B is nice, but what drivers really want is the ability to know in real time whether there is a parking spot around the corner.

INRIX, the Kirkland, Wash.-based transportation analytics company, announced Thursday that its On-Street Parking service will be available in the new BMW 5 Series sedan. The BMW service is available in Seattle and eight other U.S. cities — Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C, as well as the German cities of Berlin, Cologne, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich and Stuttgart. Additional cities will be added.

A recent INRIX Connected & Autonomous Vehicle Consumer Survey found that 72 percent of respondents said real-time parking availability is the navigation feature they desire the most in their cars.

“Real-time parking is the most sought-after navigation feature because it addresses a pain point that affects everyone,” Joe Berry, vice president and general manager of automotive at INRIX, said in a news release. “The first automotive deployment of INRIX On-Street Parking solidifies BMW’s position at the forefront of connected car technology with a focus on delivering the services drivers want the most.”

The feature works through INRIX’s collection of information from a variety of sources — historical and real-time data from meters, cars and sensors. The service knows, for example, how many vehicles drive or stop on a particular street and how many of them have plugged a meter for whatever length of time. All of this anonymous data is fed into an algorithm to come up with the probability of finding a spot on a particular street.

The BMW 5 Series also includes a real-time traffic service from INRIX which provides up-to-the-minute and predictive traffic flow information for routes, travel times, and alerts to accidents and incidents on over five million miles of roads, the release noted.

BMW X2 Patent Pictures Surface

By Chris Tsui - The Drive

A few days after maybe, probably outing the design of the next Aston Martin Vantage, the Japanese patent office is giving us glimpses into the automotive future yet again with a filing that appears to show the production-ready shape of the upcoming BMW X2. For those of you perplexed by the abundance of alphanumeric BMW nameplates wondering what the hell an X2 is gonna be, think of it as a slopier, sportier, less practical version of the X1. Sort of like what the X6 is to the X5—but way smaller. 

And that's pretty much exactly what we see in these patent pictures. Proportions borrowed from the X1 with a slightly more aggressive front fascia, a less generous greenhouse, and ... the rear end from a Hyundai? Seriously, tell me these aren't the same car. 

The BMW X2 is projected to be powered by similar forces found in the existing X1, meaning a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder with twin scroll turbos good for around 228-horsepower. This is likely to come in your choice of front-wheel-drive (you read that right) or all-wheel-drive flavors. 

BMW's new mini-sport-crossover is expected to officially show its face sometime this year, with our money on the Frankfurt show in September, along with the Concept X7.

New BMW M4 GT4 Will Appear at Watkins Glen

When BMW unveiled the GTS version of its venerable M4 performance coupe, some people thought it was far too extreme. The GTS was the distinctly track-focused variant, sporting 500 horses, a spartan interior, and a hefty rear spoiler to show that it meant business. Unfortunately, the M4-on-steroids still caught a lot of flak from reviewers for being too uncomfortable for a car costing $133,000, despite the fact that it was very clearly meant for the track and not the road. BMW seemingly took this personally, eventually debuting the M4 GT4, which promised more comfort and better performance. Now, the GT4 is headed to Watkins Glen for its North American debut. 

BMW USA announced today that its all-new M4 GT4 will be at Watkins Glen this weekend for the 6 Hours of the Glen race. BMW says this car finishes off its lineup of race cars, situated as it is between the M235i Racing and M6 GT3. The M4 GT4 is basically a response to customers who were dissatisfied with the M4 GTS and wanted a genuine racecar available to the public. 

The M4 GT4 takes many of its performance parts from its M6 GT3 cousin and features a racing exhaust system, carbon fiber exterior accents, and racing-spec rear spoiler and front splitter. BMW promises more driver comfort, too, with a better suspension system and improved brakes over the GTS. The GT4 also features a state-of-the-art modular engine control unit, allowing racing teams to fine-tune engine power for different competitions. Customers can pick it up for an eye-watering $196,000—but this car seemingly has the technology and performance to justify that price.

This car hits Watkins Glen this weekend for some hardcore racing around the circuit, and BMW also plans to race it at 24 Hours of Dubai next year. 

The new BMW X3.

The BMW X3 was the car that launched the mid-size SAV (Sports Activity Vehicle) segment in 2003. Since then, BMW has recorded more than 1.5 million new registrations of the X3 across the two model generations so far. And now the new BMW X3 is set to write the next chapter in this success story with an even more striking, dynamic design language, powerful yet also efficient drive systems and luxurious appointments.

  • The BMW X3 launched the mid-size Sports Activity Vehicle segment when it arrived on the scene in 2003. More than 1.5 million units of the X3 have since rolled off the assembly line and now the third-generation model is ready to take over the baton.
  • Eye-catching design ensures distinctive looks and highlights the car’s dynamic mission statement and familiar X character.
  • Customers can choose from three model lines – xLine, Luxury Line and M Sport – and the BMW Individual range of products to align the inside and outside of the new BMW X3 even more precisely with their personal tastes.
  • The range-topping BMW X3 M40i will be the first M Performance Automobile in this model series.
  • Carefully honed chassis, including reduced unsprung mass and sophisticated axle kinematics, elevates sporty handling to another new level.
  • From the launch of the new model (or shortly afterwards), the engine line-up will feature three petrol and two diesel engine variants with outputs from 135 kW/184 hp to 265 kW/360 hp (fuel consumption combined: 8.4 – 5.0 l/100 km [33.6 – 56.5 mpg imp]; CO2 emissions combined: 193 – 132 g/km)*. All models come with the eight-speed Steptronic transmission as standard.
  • Weight reduced by up to 55 kilograms from the predecessor model thanks to intelligent lightweight construction; class-leading aerodynamics (Cd = 0.29).
  • State-of-the-art operating system, with optional gesture control and Intelligent Voice Assistant.
  • Owners can operate functions including the optional auxiliary heating using the optional BMW Display Key.
  • BMW CoPilot: Options such as the latest generation of Active Cruise Control and the Driving Assistant Plus safety package including Steering and lane control assistant, Lane Change Assistant (est. from December 2017) and Lane keeping assistant with side collision protection provide extensive scope for (semi-)automated driving.
  • The full range of latest-generation BMW Connected functions are available, providing seamless connectivity between owners, their cars and the outside world.

Upcoming 2018 BMW X7 Spied Testing on Nurburgring

By Kyle Chemomcha - TheDrive

e'll have to wait until September's Frankfurt Auto Show to get our first look at an undisguised new 2018 BMW X7, but the company's engineers are already busy putting it through its paces. A prototype was previously caught on video doing some cold weather testing back in January; now a new clip from autoevolution shows a BMW test pilot chucking the husky seven-seat crossover around the Nurburgring.

Riding on the same platform as its 7 Series sedan counterpart, the BMW X7 promises to be a bit more than just a stretched X5. It will reportedly come in two separate versions: the mass-market seven-seater priced to compete with top-flight people movers like the Audi Q7 and the Mercedes-Benz GLS, and an exclusive four-seat model aimed squarely at ultra-lux SUVs like the Land Rover Range Rover Autobiography and the Volvo XC90 Excellence.

BMW head of sales and marketing Ian Robertson told Autocar earlier this month that both would feature "all the technology and luxury of the 7 Series [sedan]" and a price point to match. Engine options have yet to be confirmed, but it's safe to say they'll also mirror those found in the sedan—a range of six and eight cylinder powerplants, along with a plug-in hybrid model in keeping with BMW's electrification push.

With more tire noise than anything else in the video below (starting around 1:30), it's hard to tell which engine setup is powering the prototype as the big old Beemer does its best impression of an Ultimate Driving Machine on the Nurburgring. But the X7 does seem to acquit itself fairly well in the corners, no doubt thanks in part to its RWD-based architecture. Look for more details about features, pricing, and engine specs to emerge ahead of the official unveiling in September.

The Race To Monetize Vehicle Data Gets More Crowded as BMW Hooks Up With IBM

By Sam Abuelsmid - Forbes

As cars and trucks get ever more packed with sensors and connectivity, they are already generating tens of gigabytes of data per hour and will soon be producing terabytes per hour.  In this modern world, data is often deemed as good as gold, just ask Google and Facebook. That’s why everyone connected to the auto industry is scrambling to figure out ways to make a business out of data with the latest being BMW and IBM. The two are partnering up on the automakers CarData platform.

Over the past year we’ve seen a bunch of announcements of automotive data ventures from Ford’s acquisition of Silicon Valley software company Pivotal to develop FordPass to Ericsson’s Connected Vehicle Marketplace to Delphi’s investment in Otonomo. Like each of these CarData is designed to be a platform that aggregates data from driver’s vehicles and makes it available to third-party service providers.

Over the next several years as telematics become increasingly ubiquitous, it’s likely that the companies in this space will experiment with a variety of models for making money from Data. As the company that has been doing telematics longer than anyone, OnStar will likely keep everything in-house, just as relative newcomer Ford seems to be doing with FordPass, building  platforms and interfaces that service providers can plug into. Ericsson and Delphi/Otonomo are providing white-label services that OEMs that can utilize if they don’t want build and manage their own.

Using a third-party platform like IBM, Ericsson or Delphi/Otonomo certainly makes it easier for an automaker to implement. It also allows data from multiple automakers to be aggregated to provide a better pool of data for insights. For car owners that have vehicles from more than one brand, as long as they are on the same platform, their data could also be aggregated. On the other hand, adding an intermediary means another participant in the transaction that will want a slice of the revenue.

Which approach will ultimately prove more lucrative to automakers remains to be seen, but there is also another problem for the service providers. If there is no standard for the interfaces, it complicates life for the app developers with having to support multiple services. In the mobile device space this has proved to be a killer for anyone that wasn’t there first such as Microsoft or Blackberry. Once Apple and Google gobbled up the mobile device platform pie, no one else wanted to support new entries. Between automakers and independent data platform brokers, lack of standards could end up killing the golden goose of data services.

The author is a senior analyst on the Transportation Efficiencies team at Navigant Research and co-host of the Wheel Bearings podcast

2018 BMW 6 Series Gran Turismo Preview

BY CHRISTIAN WARDLAW - JD Power

Fast Facts:

  • Replacement for 5 Series Gran Turismo
  • Offered as the 640i xDrive with a turbocharged 6-cylinder engine
  • 5-door hatchback and a roomy interior with seating for 5 and up to 65 cu. ft. of cargo space
  • Numerous luxury, performance, safety, and technology features
  • Pricing starts at just over $70,000

Introduction
With the existing 6 Series lineup winding down in advance of the introduction of the new 8 Series, BMW is replacing the 5 Series Gran Turismo with the new 2018 6 Series Gran Turismo. When it goes on sale, it will be offered as the 640i xDrive at a starting price of $70,695, including the destination charge.

Exterior Features
The 6 Series Gran Turismo sits up higher than the 5 Series on which it is based and uses what BMW characterizes as a “coupe-inspired” 5-door hatchback body style to provide extra passenger and cargo carrying capability.

Sport design trim is standard, along with adaptive LED headlights, active grille shutter system, and an active rear spoiler. Wheel designs range from 19 ins. to 21 ins. in diameter.

Interior Features
BMW says that the 6 Series Gran Turismo supplies roomy and comfortable seating for 5 adults.

Compared with a 5 Series sedan the seating positions are higher, improving entry and exit, aiding outward visibility, and cultivating what BMW calls an “imperious driving experience.” Compared with the old 5 Series Gran Turismo, the replacement model adds soundproofing measures to quiet the interior.

Standard equipment includes leather sport seats with adjustable side bolsters, automatic climate control, ambient lighting, panoramic sunroof, and a navigation system. A hands-free power tailgate is standard, too, and when the 40/20/40 split-folding rear seats are powered down the 6 Series Gran Turismo holds 65 cu. ft. of cargo.

Optional Features
BMW has detailed three main option packages including Luxury, M Sport, and Driving Assistant Plus. Details for the latter package are provided in the Safety section below.

The Luxury package adds extra chrome trim and power-reclining rear seats, among other improvements. The M Sport package installs a sportier look, and itself can be enhanced with a Dynamic Handling package. That upgrade installs a 4-corner air suspension, active steering including rear-wheel steering, active roll stabilization, Comfort + driving mode, and an intelligently networked adaptive driving mode.

In addition to these features, 6 Series Gran Turismo buyers can enhance the car with quilted Nappa leather, multi-contour front seats, active seat ventilation, front-seat massage function, and a Bowers & Wilkins surround-sound system with 1,400 watts of power and 16 speakers.

Under the Hood
The new 6 Series Gran Turismo is equipped with a turbocharged, 3.0-liter 6-cylinder engine, an 8-speed sport automatic transmission with paddle shifters, and BMW’s xDrive all-wheel-drive system. The engine makes 335 horsepower and 332 lb.-ft. of torque, the latter available from 1,380 rpm to 5,200 rpm. The result is acceleration to 60 mph in 5.1 seconds, according to BMW.

Driving Dynamics Control is standard, equipping the car with Eco Pro, Comfort, and Sport driving modes. BMW has also intelligently networked the transmission and automatic engine start/stop systems to, under certain conditions, use navigation route data to anticipate operational requirements for maximum effectiveness and efficiency.

Safety
Every BMW 640i xDrive Gran Turismo is equipped with a reversing camera, park-assist sensors, and the company’s Active Driving Assistant technology. Active Driving Assistant includes forward-collision warning with daytime pedestrian detection and low-speed automatic emergency braking, active blind-spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert, and lane-departure warning.

The Driving Assistant Plus package adds adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go capability and a traffic-jam assistant, active lane-keeping assist, side-collision avoidance, front cross-traffic alert, and Evasion Aid corrective steering. Notably, the traffic-jam assistant and active lane-keeping assist allow for hands-free driving for as long as 50 seconds, BMW says.

Technology
Equipped with BMW’s next-generation iDrive 6.0 infotainment system, the new 6 Series Gran Turismo features a freestanding, 10.25-in. touch-screen display with a tile menu layout, natural-voice recognition, gesture control, and Apple CarPlay smartphone-projection technology.

A navigation system is also standard in the new Gran Turismo 6 Series and includes car-to-car communication capabilities to convey specific road conditions to nearby BMWs that may encounter them. On-street parking information and advanced real-time traffic are also included.

BMW Connected personal mobility assistant and ConnectedDrive services are also standard for the 6 Series Gran Turismo. Highlights include BMW Accident Assistance with Intelligent Emergency Call enhanced by vehicle location and accident severity reporting. With the car’s available Display Key upgrade, an owner can see their vehicle and its surroundings from their smartphone using a BMW Connected App.

Optional technology features include a new head-up display with a 75% larger projection area, surround-view camera system with 3-D view, and BMW Night Vision. Parking Assistant technology works for parallel, perpendicular, and angled parking spaces, and with the Display Key option BMW’s Remote Control Parking system allows the driver to put the car into a tight space while standing outside of the vehicle.

Watch The Historical BMW Art Car Series Enter The Virtual World

By Nargess Banks - Forbes

A BMW M6 GT3 racecar appears on stage, cloaked in matt carbon black. The audience aim their smartphones at the number 18 on the car and through an app project colorful light swishes onto its surface. The augmented reality technology transforms the M6 into other-worldly shapes for a moving, dancing sculpture in virtuality. Meet the latest BMW Art Car #18. If this sounds like the most surreal Art Car to date, then that’s because it is.

The multimedia artist behind this latest project is one of China’s rising stars, Cao Fei. Following the contributions by art world royalties Jeff Koons and John Baldessari, at 39 Fei is also the youngest and the first Chinese artist to be involved in the series. The unique BMW Art Car project started life in 1975 when racing driver Hervé Poulain casually asked his artist friend Alexander Calder to paint a 3.0 CSL which he subsequently raced at Le Mans. Since, the paintbrush of some of the most notable names in art history have stroked BMW racecars, with all but one competing on the international racing scene. Watching a work of art race towards the finish line can be sensational.

There have been some incredible contributions – who can forget the Koons M3 GT2 in its riot of colors racing at the Le Mans in 2010. Yet until now none have attempted to take the car into virtual space. A decade ago, artist Olafur Eliasson made an ecological statement by removing the wheels from his Art Car, but Cao has taken a greater leap by using the occasion to make a statement on the second life of the automobile – the clean, multi-functioning, digitalized, autonomous vehicle. Simultaneously, she is narrating the dazzling speed of China’s evolution.

Cao’s work is presented in three layers - a short film titled ‘Unmanned’, the carbon black racecar and a free app that employs both virtual and augmented reality - all to be seen simultaneously for a theatrical and interactive experience. Unmanned (well worth seeing for its cinematic brilliance and soundtrack Gosh by Jamie xx) sees a time-travelling monk leave a tranquil hilltop, setting off by foot toward a nameless megacity passing fragments of modern China - mass construction of soulless high rises, super highways with their endless traffic, giant advertising billboards, a factory car park with row upon row of identical cars.

He approaches the black M6 GT3, puts on a VR headset and executes spiritual movements, which echo in colorful streams of light. The monk’s dance is paying tribute to the traditional Asian spiritual ceremony of blessing a new object, here the racecar and driver. The light elements mirror what the eyes cannot see and the mind may not picture. In the real world, when the app is used within the premises of the car, these light swishes become an AR installation floating above and around the car. We, the spectator, therefore become an interactive participant. This is art as experience.

Cao was chosen by an independent jury that includes some of the world’s most notable gallery directors, but it took some convincing the BMW board members in Munich. “It wasn’t easy for the company to go ahead with this car,” admits Thomas Girst, head of BMW Group cultural engagement. “The Art Car project was always about celebrating the artwork and racing – it wasn’t about autonomous flying cars! But it felt like a natural development of the series.” The jury too were unanimously in favor of Cao. Richard Armstrong, director Guggenheim Museum New York, says: “She is a very courageous choice because of her capacity to make parallel universes.”

One of the premises behind the Art Car project is to allow the artists complete creative freedom, that is as long as they don’t mess with the body weight or aerodynamics of the racecar, says Girst. In Cao’s case the challenge was to find a surface that would work with augmented reality technology. The only way this could function effectively is on a non-reflective matt color - reflective surfaces simply cannot be picked up by the algorithm. Cao says: “I needed the darkest of shades so when the color appears with the AR you only see the shadow of the car.”

The artist is very much from the digital age. She has a prominent presence in Second Life and says she views the machine as human. You can sense her comfort within the virtual world. “When looking at the boundaries between the virtual and real world my answer is light, something visible and something invisible. To me, light represents thoughts. As the speed of thoughts cannot be measured, the Art Car questions the existence of the boundaries of the human mind.”

She offers: “We are entering a new age, where the mind directly controls objects and where thoughts can be transferred, such as unmanned operations and artificial intelligence. Which attitudes and temperaments hold the key to opening the gateway to the new age?”

The artist is also from a generation born into a modern China. Her father was a prominent socialist realist sculptor who created busts of heroes and political figures. In contrast, the young Cao was raised in Guangzhou, a city close to Hong Kong and one of the first to experience Westernization in the 1980s. She admits her work takes a great deal from witnessing China’s rapid development. This, alongside a childhood observing her father’s more traditional work, has helped inform her art work.

“Being from the new generation, I could see this new China and you can see these contradictions in the development of my work.” She admits there are constraints working as an artist in China but that “swimming along is a Chinese skill,” she smiles. “My father was expressing the idea of restrictions within restrictions. For me virtuality is a means to express myself, to understand reality which is what I’m interested in. We are living in an age of rapid technology and in this context, we need to know that virtuality has changed the way reality works. And to do this we need to be part of it,” she says. “Here I want to convey a message to the younger generation by using an app. This kind of interaction is crucial for me.”

The romance of the motor car, that historical and emotional connection, has little value in China. Cars for mass consumption is a relatively new concept here and I cannot help wonder if, in much the same way Cao is so comfortable in the digital world, the second life of cars which we conceptually perhaps struggle with in Europe, feels like a natural evolution to her. China’s dazzling development, whereby city maps have to be reconfigured every six months, leaves little time for the romance of contemplation.

As BMW continues to reposition itself as a tech firm, exploring cars that are advanced mobile tech gadgets, I ask the artist if she is aware that her car is expressing this vision. “Today, it isn’t enough to use a brush to paint but we need to go beyond aesthetic values,” she offers. “The monk in the film is travelling from past to the future through different spaces. It is about past, present and future, but also reality and virtuality. Image can give energy to cars because this kind of energy cannot be expressed in language. These images can showcase our vision for the future automobile.”

The eighteenth BMW Art Car has taken three years from initial concept during which time Cao, who doesn’t hold a driving license, had a racing experience in Switzerland that greatly informed her work, as well as spent time at the BMW headquarters working closely with the engineers and digital specialists.

A virtual experience of the #18 Art Car will be on display during Art Basel later this month. Most importantly, BMW racing driver Augusto Farfus will take the M6 GT3 on the track at FIA FT World Cup in Macau in November. The team admit that they are working on how to project the AR on a car moving at such speed. Jens Marquardt, BMW Motorsport director, says the project perfectly suits this era. “The augmented reality experience makes this unique, making the tradition of BMW Art Cars livelier than ever.”

The BMW M2 at Lime Rock: Still the Coupe du Jour

By Lawrence Ulrich - The Drive

I want a BMW M2 Coupe. So does everyone else, apparently.

After falling for this tough little bugger at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca last year, I had another go-round with the brilliant, 365-horsepower M2 at Lime Rock Park this spring. After trading hot laps with deputy editor Josh Condon on a picture-perfect afternoon in woodsy northern Connecticut, I drove the M2 home to Brooklyn where our day had started. Having had my fill of speed at the historic circuit—including some enjoyably pointless drifting on a wet skidpad—I settled into a southbound convoy with Condon’s Lexus RC F. The M2 flowed from bend to bend on Route 7, in an apparent synchronized swim with the wide Housatonic River. Fast, slow, or in-between, the BMW never missed a beat.

It felt bad to bid this M2 goodbye, a sure sign of a car that's wormed its way into my brain and heart. I dropped the BMW at a Newark airport lot en route to another famous track: Imola, where I drove the Lamborghini Huracan Performante, not far from the company’s headquarters and factory in Sant'Agata Bolognese. (Check back for a full Performante review next week). Now, the M2 won’t wring out the Nürburgring like the record-setting Huracan. But it doesn’t cost $275,000, either. And like Lambo’s track-day special, you can drive this BMW from your own neighborhood to any road course and back home again, for a starting price of $52,695. 

In sharp contrast to most BMWs, there are only three factory options, two of them included on my test car: A seven-speed, dual-clutch DCT automatic transmission for $2,900, and a $1,250 Executive Package that adds heated seats, a rear-view camera, ultrasonic rear parking sensors and BMW’s Active Driving Assistant. (Metallic paint, in blue, gray or black, adds another $550.) Grand total for my tester: $56,845.

The ever-playful M2 awaits its turn on the Slip 'N Slide skidpad at Lime Rock

The ever-playful M2 awaits its turn on the Slip 'N Slide skidpad at Lime Rock

Between the relatively attainable price, compact footprint, and endorphin-boosting performance, the M2 has made folks nostalgic for the good old days of BMW. Adopting the ultra-wide front and rear axles of the M3 and M4, the BMW looks menacing without being overly macho and bulked up. Its dramatic, wing-shaped front air dam slips along the pavement like some graceful manta ray. This M2 is actually 8.2 inches shorter than the classic E46 M3 model, but 2.5 inches wider. 19-inch forged wheels are stuffed into those provocatively flared wheel arches, their black finish creating a stark, handsome contrast with my test car’s Alpine White paint.

The BMW is stiffly sprung, but not so stiff that I couldn’t drive it every damn day, even in the Boschian hellpits of New York. (You want to ooze down the road? Get a Lexus ES300.) The M2 is actually a perfect city car. It's small enough to park anywhere; stylish enough to turn heads and spark compliments from and conversations with Bimmer fans; and just practical enough for airport and grocery runs. When the front occupants kindly eased forward an inch or two, we even made room in back for six-foot-tall adults. Some drivers grouse about the upright driving position, but I love the BMW’s at-the-ready stance, which reminds me of a VW GTI.

If I had my druthers, I’d save $2,900 and Choose Life in the form of the optional six-speed, rev-matching manual transmission. But on Lime Rock’s short, flowing track, where preserving momentum is the difference between a fast lap and the back of the pack, the DCT automatic—including its tactile, perfectly-situated metal paddle shifters—made it easy to get shifting done before key corner entries, while keeping my concentration fully on steering and braking. I’d describe the rear limited-slip differential as a benign kick in the pants, though it’s more a boot to individual butt cheeks: The BMW’s slip-sensing computer sends the lion’s share of torque to a single inside rear wheel to help chew your way out of corners.

And how efficient is the M Division’s beefed-up 3.0-liter six, with its whirring twin-scroll turbocharger? Fire up the computerized launch control, which eschews the tail-happy, rubber-torching drama of the M3 and M4 launch programs, and the automatic M2 snarls from 0-60 mph in 4.1 seconds, 0.2 seconds quicker than the manual version. Both numbers are just 0.1 seconds behind a Corvette Stingray, which would seem to have the M2 whipped on paper. The Chevy boasts 95 additional horses, a bit less weight, and nearly double the displacement from its big pushrod V-8.

On Lime Rock’s 1.5 miles of roller-coaster plummets and curves, the BMW’s engine spins like Sean Spicer in the bushes. The inline six zings past 7,000 rpm and emits an expensive-sounding snarl through a quartet of exhaust outlets. The single turbocharger helps wind up 343 pound-feet of torque with virtually no trace of lag. Stand on the gas to access 369 pound-feet for short bursts through a turbo overboost function. As with any modern performer, the electrically assisted steering can’t quite match the pure fidelity of an old hydraulic unit. But it’s still damn good, with just enough road (or track) feedback trickling in through the chunky M steering wheel.

In the pit lane of Lime Rock, its 60th anniversary banners flashing from a pedestrian bridge, Condon and I switched back-and-forth into the driver’s seat. I peered into the BMW’s front wheels, where M Compound brakes are working overtime, to look for any traces of smoke. Not even close. Those all-day-strong brakes include blue-painted, four-piston front calipers, with aluminum hubs to trim unsprung weight. As a full-fledged M Car, the M2 also gets extra protection for its internal components. Sling the BMW into corners—or pitch it sideways on the skidpad like an especially spoiled teenager—its modified oil sump and suction system provides reliable lubrication in situations where g-forces might starve a lesser car. Ditto for the extra radiator, and a secondary transmission cooler for the DCT automatic version.

More than a year after my Monterey drive, M2 resale values are increcibly strong.

More than a year after my Monterey drive, M2 resale values are increcibly strong.

The only real bummer is a surprisingly hefty curb weight of 3,450 pounds, rising to 3,505 with the DCT gearbox. That’s just 80 fewer pounds than the larger M4 Coupe. Yet the M2 feels notably more sprightly and entertaining than its big brother. And for roughly $25,000 less than a well-equipped M4 , there’s no question which one I’d rather own.

The catch, of course, is getting your hands on an M2 for something near sticker price—a hard task, between dealer markups and the constrained production of the Leipzig, Germany factory whose output also includes the electrified i3 and i8 models.

As ever, Internet resellers tend to be optimistic, sometimes wildly so, about what their cars are actually worth. But it’s clear that there are no bargains to be had on an M2, new or used. TrueCar's data shows that owners are paying about $1,100 above sticker price, on average, for a 2017 M2, or about $3,500 above dealer invoice. Nearly 14 months after the 2016 M2 went on sale, specimens with roughly 5,000 to 12,000 miles are being listed online for roughly original sticker price, or even a few thousand dollars above. 

Owners and dealers of especially low-mileage 2016 versions are seeking about $60,000 to $64,000, for cars that maxed out at $57,000 on the sticker. And caretakers of 2017 models seem to believe their M2’s are appreciating Ferraris, seeking roughly $70,000 to $80,000 in online ads. (For that price, I’d just give up and buy a Porsche Cayman S.) Most grievously, some outfit called Century West BMW in Universal City, California is touting a 2017 M2 with 12 miles on the odometer for $105,435. That ad includes the helpful description of the BMW as “Unobtanium”! At that price, let’s hope it stays that way. Or that a Century West shopper, with a physique to match his sense of injustice, will punch the salesman responsible for setting that price in his opportunistic face—and call it the “visible hand” of the marketplace as he walks away.

Yet the remorseless state of supply-and-demand for the M2 does illustrate the market’s response to the car. The hype was justified, and BMW fans are bowing before this legitimate heir to the vintage BMW 2002ti. 

Bowing-and-scraping is another story, however. Those fans left without cars can only hope that BMW will see its way to building more M2s. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to Century West BMW to do some negotiating. I really think I can talk them down.

Lawrence Ulrich, The Drive’s chief auto critic, is an award-winning auto journalist and former chief auto critic for The New York Times and Detroit Free Press. The Detroit native and Brooklyn gentrifier owns a troubled ’93 Mazda RX-7 R1, but may want to give it a good home.

BMW's newly revealed concept 8 series is a modern-day coupe

Martin Hislop - Designboom

BMW is using this year’s concorso d’eleganza villa d’este—currently getting underway at lake como—to unveil the new ‘concept 8′ series. the design reveal serves as a preview of the forthcoming BMW 8 series coupe, scheduled for launch in 2018. the elegant concept car is instantly recognizable as a BMW in the way it simultaneously showcases new design ideas alongside form-building techniques.

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the interplay between the BMW concept ‘8’ series’ long bonnet and flowing roofline brings a sense of motion to the car’s flanks, while the upward sweep of the its trailing edge provides a sharp conclusion to the car’s rearward flow, while adding a sporting flourish. the silhouette of the concept vehicle spreads powerfully over the road. within the silhouette, a clean, dramatic arrangement of surfaces and forms creates a crisp, contemporary look.

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skilfully moulded line sources and flowing highlights accentuate the concept ‘8’ series’ athleticism. a greyish-blue exterior paint finish named ‘barcelona grey liquid’ shows off the surfacing to optimum effect. 21 inch light-alloy wheels feature a sporty and exclusive multi-spoke design and aero elements, create visual depth and completes the sense of motion from a standstill.

the concept car’s front end is sporty, low-slung and visually striking. the classic BMW template now has a fresh interpretation, taking the company’s design language in a different direction. a large kidney grille, slim twin headlights and large air intakes form a striking, sporty front-end graphic. drawing inspiration from the company’s coupes of years past, the kidneys are brought together by an unbroken frame to form a single, wide element, emphasizing the dynamic character. super-slim laser headlights, and a hexagonal take on the ‘twin circular’ theme,  brings a focused look to the front end.

the concept’s back features a low, sculptural tail with maximum width-enhancing effect. powerful wheel arches hint at the car’s power and celebrates its rear-wheel drive. the elongated, slim rear lights extend far into the sides and provide a connection between the rear and flanks. the lights take the form of L-shaped blades and project out from the rear, emphasizing the width of the car and its muscular stance on the road. the dark, stylized carbon-fibre diffuser in the lower section of the rear apron adds extra lightness and a sportier feel to the rear graphic. trapezoidal exhaust tailpipes frame the rear section and points to a powerful driving experience.

the interior explores the contrasts between emotion and engineering, dynamic flair and luxury; its form suggests sportiness, while high-quality materials exude exclusivity. the exclusive sports seats are slim in design, a carbon-fibre shell provides the basic structure, and the finest leather makes them the perfect place to sit. the steering wheel features hand-polished aluminum spokes arrowing forward, and red-anodized shift paddles bring the race track to mind. the contrast of aluminum and dark leather on the gripping surfaces emphasizes the sense of sporting-luxur in various details. merino leather in ‘dark’ brown and ‘fjord’ white lends the interior a high-quality ambience. surfaces are clad in carbon fibre and hand-polished aluminium, creating attractive contrasts, while radiating a sporty and technical feel. a faceted ground gearshift lever, plus an ‘iDrive’ controller made from swarovski glass with a smoky quartz look, give the interior some contemporary finishing touches.

First Drive: 2017 BMW M760i xDrive

By Preston Lerner - Road and Track

THE FIRST THING YOU NEED TO KNOW about the 2017 BMW M760i xDrive is that it is not— repeat, not—an M7. In BMW-speak, it's an "M Performance automobile." Translation: It slots into the territory between a standard production car and a performance-optimized M vehicle. M-influenced, rather than M-badged. It's an important distinction, but one that should not get in

the way of the fact that the M760i is the most powerful and expensive vehicle BMW sells. Its twin-turbo V-12 is awesome. That cylinder count still means something, even in the face of increasingly ridiculous and brawny forced-induction engines. Some relevant numbers: 601 hp from 5500 to 6500 rpm, 590 lb-ft of torque starting at 1500 rpm, and a claimed 0-to-60-mph time of 3.6 seconds.

Are those bragging rights worth the $72,300 premium over an entry-level, six-cylinder 740i? Well, that depends on the size of your investment portfolio. But also on how you look at it: Yes, it's an expensive sedan. The M760i comes off the same assembly line as the 740i. Yet it's the cheapest option in a rarified V-12 market dominated by supercars (Ferrari/Lamborghini/ Pagani/Aston Martin) and wretched-excess mobiles (no fewer than four Rolls-Royces). The M760i also undercuts the price of the V-12-powered Mercedes-AMG S65 by $73,030, although Mercedes still dominates with 621 hp and 738 lb-ft of torque. At the same time, the new Bimmer steals some of the thunder from Audi's autobahn-stormer, the S8 Plus, which boasts 605 hp but a measly eight cylinders.

The 7-series interior, already pretty swell, gets a few upgrades (brushed-aluminum inserts, stainless-steel pedals). Ditto for the exterior, which gets unique bumpers and special gray trim. But the M760i is more of a sleeper than a look-at-me totem. The most obvious sign that this BMW is something special is elegant 20-inch wheels painted in a stylish matte finish.

Of course, it doesn't take much to make a luxury car more luxurious. The real challenge was sharpening the handling of a four-door that weighs as much as a Lincoln Town Car ferrying a couple of drunks. The solution was equipping the M760i with virtually every electronic stability-augmentation system in BMW's toolkit, from adaptive air suspension to electromechanical active roll stabilization.

There's no hiding its heft, but the Bimmer is lighter on its feet than its size would suggest. Turn-in is sharp, and understeer—what you'd expect from a sedan sporting all-wheel drive and a huge engine in the nose—is mild. BMW doesn't bother to promote the silly fiction that the M760i will be used as a track-day plaything. But it is a car that's designed to be driven briskly, and driven briskly it can be.

Still, the Bimmer's raison d'être is that aluminum V-12. The engine, known internally as the N74, debuted in the previous 760Li and, in a different state of tune, can be found in the Rolls-Royce Ghost and its spin-offs. A longer stroke increases the displacement from the previous 7-series' 6.0 liters to 6.6, same as the Rolls-Royces'. Thanks to a relatively straight exhaust, the noise coming out the quad tailpipes makes for a mesmerizing soundtrack.

With so much torque available, BMW says there was no need for a dual-clutch gearbox; the conventional eight-speed ZF automatic works just fine and better fits the car's intended use. Acceleration isn't mind-bending, but it's relentless enough to mash you back into your seat and get you into triple digits before you realize it.

For sure, the speed on tap is addictive. When the turbos spool, the M760i rockets to 155 mph—its electronically limited top speed for North America. Elsewhere in the world, buyers can opt for a so- called M Driver's package that raises the governor to 190 mph.

So, it's not a purebred M machine. But it's more than a prosperous businessperson's workaday ride. Considering the limit market for a car like this, it seems odd that BMW showrooms already offer another hot-rod version of the 7-series. The Alpina B7 xDrive make 600 hp and has a 0-to-60 time of 3.6, yet costs a mer $138,000. A bargain, right? Maybe. With its V-8 engine, the Alpina is fated to play second fiddle to the M760i. Because if you want to be a headliner in this company, only 12 cylinders will do.

Here's your first look at the new 2018 BMW X4

By Joel Stocksdale - Autoblog

The BMW X4 was introduced about three years ago for the 2015 model year, which means we're due for a new version. And that's exactly what we're looking at in these new spy photos. This prototype is sporting surprisingly little camouflage, which reveals that the next X4 will have significant styling differences.

Starting from the front, the headlights have been tapered at each end, and the far corners wrap around the fenders more than the current model. The twin-kidney grille also appears to have been extended farther down the front fascia. The round fog lamps mounted high in the bumper of current X4s seem to have vanished entirely, and the vents in the bumper look as though they may be smaller.

Along the side, the chunky character lines running along the doors and over the rear fenders seem to be gone, or at the very least significantly smoothed out. The front fenders have also picked up little extractor vents like so many other modern BMWs.

The back has been thoroughly revamped, too. The taillights seem to have a similar shape to the current examples, but they look as though they extend farther to the center of the hatch. The license-plate zone is no longer in the middle of the hatch, either. A BMW roundel now occupies that section, while the license plate lurks in the new rear bumper. The bumper now features some plastic mesh to give the appearance of a rear vent, instead of simply being painted gray. The exhaust tips have a new trapezoidal design, too, and they're better integrated with the rear bumper.

The car on this carrier looks like it's probably close to production, considering the usage of just vinyl wrap to hide the design. It wouldn't be surprising if BMW reveals the crossover at the end of this year, possibly at the LA auto show, or next spring. Deliveries would probably follow a few months later.

2018 BMW X5 spotted at Nurburgring

By: Sam Sheehan - AutoCar

A next-generation BMW X5 development car has been spotted being testing at the Nürburgring, showing its new design more clearly.

Earlier development cars have worn adapted versions of the current X5's exterior, but this later sighting shows the car's new bumper and boot lid.

The next-generation X5 will use the same platform as the 7 Series, on the CLAR (cluster architecture) platform. This platform supports steel, aluminium, carbonfibre and magnesium construction, so it's likely there will be a sizeable reduction in weight compared with the lightest of the current X5s, the xDrive35i, which tips the scales at 2030kg. 

A plug-in hybrid X5 will follow the standard X5 sometime after its introduction, as will a performance-orientated, 600bhp-plus X5 M variant. BMW's aim of launching performance variants earlier in the lifecycle of its models means that the X5 M could arrive not long after the regular X5.

Sources close to BMW also report that the next X5 line-up will feature a combination of four, six and eight-cylinder engines. It will launch at roughly the same time as its arch rival, the next Mercedes GLE.

The facelifted version of the current X5, which has been around since 2013, is due to make an appearance in the coming months, when the model is due to have a mid-life refresh.

The X5 will no longer be the flagship of BMW's non-coupé SUV range, when the X7 makes its debut in 2018.

BMW, Shell Unveil Fashion-Forward Hydrogen Fueling Station

By: Christian Gilbertsen - The Drive

A joint collaboration between BMW-owned Designworks and Shell has given us the hydrogen refueling station of the future. Commissioned by Shell, Designworks has created a sleek filling station design that looks like it was lifted straight out of the movie Blade Runner

As a hydrogen car driver approaches the refueling station, he or she will be greeted with what BMW calls a "light guidance system" that helps other users clearly see how much remaining fuel time there is, in order to keep the flow of cars moving through the entire refueling station. There's also a screen on the filling apparatus itself that's meant for users to track their own remaining refueling time, the cost of hydrogen, and to check maps and route details.

Sonja Schiefer, Director of the Munich studio of Designworks, said, "Next to enabling product innovation, one of the most important benefits of the Fixstern process is its power to create commitment for a common goal by providing a tangible vision that multiple project partners can work towards."

Of course, one of the main setbacks for the proliferation of hydrogen-powered vehicles is the lack of filling stations altogether—not just the absence of these beautiful, futuristic ones Designworks has come up with. But if and when fuel cell cars become mainstream, at least BMW and Shell seem to have plans to give us cool filling stations for them.

BMW’s plug-in hybrid 530e iPerformance will get wireless charging

By: Darrell Etherington - TechCrunch

BMW revealed its newest electric vehicle, a plug-in hybrid called the 530e iPerformance. The variant’s options include a forthcoming wireless charging pad, targeting a 2018 release window, which will include a charging pad drivers can install in their garage and drive over to provide a power supply with rates up to 3.2 kW, with a total charging time for refilling the vehicle’s onboard battery of about three and a half hours.

BMW is already showing the wireless pad and its charging capabilities in prototype form, and the system includes visual feedback and instructions for the driver via the in-car infotainment dash display, so that they know when they’ve pulled in for an optimal charging connection. Wireless charging is a big carrot for EVs and hybrids, since it takes away the added mental component involved in remembering to plug your car in once you’re done driving. It seems like a small thing, but it goes against many decades of learned behavior for most drivers.

The other interesting component here is that BMW is offering its Digital Charging Service for the 530e iPerformance, which intelligently manages charging when plugged in so that the car remains topped off for when it needs to drive. The service also adjusts the planned charging to draw power mostly during off-peak hours, and to prefer power supplied by the customer’s own solar power generation capacity, if they have both that and BMW’s Wallbox Connect dedicated vehicle charging solution.

Getting customers excited about electric vehicles is in part about making sure they see that it’s also not going to change their lives dramatically in terms of their daily routine and how they use their cars. These charging technologies help with that, and wireless charging in particular should be a hit if BMW can deliver it as promised.

SPIED! BMW 8 SERIES CAUGHT TESTING AT THE NURBURGRING

By Stefan Ogbac - Motor Trend

Our Spy photographers have caught the upcoming BMW 8 Series undergoing testing at the Nürburgring race track. Looking to challenge other big luxury coupes like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe and the new Lexus LC 500, the BMW 8 Series will return as a grand tourer slotting above the 6 Series coupe and convertible.

Based on the photos, the 8 Series will be fairly large and will likely be as long as its key rival, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class coupe. From the side, the 8 Series appears low-slung with a dramatically sloping roofline that exaggerates the car’s overall length. The side windows appear to be a bit narrow as well, which visually lowers the car. Despite the swirly camouflage, you’ll find BMW’s trademark dual kidney grille up front with wider openings. Out back, the classic coupe proportions continue with a short rear deck that almost makes the car look like a fastback.

Since this particular prototype features dual exhaust tips, it’s likely that it’s only a standard 8 Series, but the black side mirrors indicate that it may be an M Sport variant or an M Performance model like the recently released M760i xDrive. It’s not yet known what will power the 8 Series, but if it’s based on the current-generation 7 Series it’ll ride on BMW’s scalable CLAR platform and most likely share powertrain choices with the flagship sedan, which include a 3.0-liter turbo-six, a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8, and the range-topping 6.6-liter twin-turbo V-12.

Currently, there’s no large coupe in the BMW lineup as the 6 Series is smaller than the cars the 8 Series will likely target. Last year, we reported that BMW was likely planning to bring back the 8 Series after the automaker applied for trademarks on the names 850, 860, and M8 among others. Three months after that report, we spied a prototype for the first time.