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BMW 8-series Night Sky: one-off M850i gets a meteoric makeover

Published: 03 January 2019

► New BMW 8-series info
► First official pictures out now
► All the models in detail, here

The BMW 8-series hasn’t been out for long, but the people in Munich have already released a special edition. In fact, the M850i Night Sky is a one off, and designed to commemorate a meteorite shower taking place overnight from the 3rd to 4th of January this year. Yes, really.

A car to celebrate a meteor shower?

Yes. BMW says that on the night of the 3rd, ‘the Earth will briefly passes through the orbit of the asteroid 2003 EH, during which time fragments from the asteroid will enter our planet’s atmosphere and burn up.’ Of course, the M850i Night Sky’s also an excuse to showcase the work of BMW’s bespoke Individual service – as well as its 3D printing-tech.

What does that actually mean for the car?

In essence the above basically means a few new fixtures and fittings both inside and outside the car. BMW has actually used meteoric rock throughout the interior, most notably on the selector lever, start/stop button, iDrive toggle and the centre console trim. And while this sort of finish has been seen in high-end luxury watches, it certainly has an impact in a car interior.

Outside, BMW has used the ‘Widmanstätten surface pattern’ a hallmark of extraterrestrial substances, throughout other features of the car. Therefore, you can find the geometric pattern etched into the door mirrors, air-breathers, side air-intakes and the front splitter. We’re less sure about that…

And the 3D printing?

Alongside the spacey customisation, the Night Sky also features 3D-printed brake-calipers made with help from BMW Motorsport, and Munich says they’re up to 30% lighter than the standard set.

Much like the 3D-printed component in the i8 Roadster, the calipers have been designed with software that only places material where it’s needed – removing any excess. The result is a product that’s lighter but just as strong, and looks a little like bone.

For everything else about the standard BMW 8-series, keep reading.

New BMW 8-series: everything you need to know

The all-new BMW 8-series Coupe slots in the market between focused sports cars, like the Porsche 911, and outright grand tourers, like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe. The two-door GT is BMW’s new flagship car and replaces the 6-series. ‘The 8,’ as BMW calls it, will be on sale before the end of November 2018.

If you want something hotter, you’ll be pleased to know there’s an M8 coming too, using the M5’s powertrain and a circa-650bhp V8 – but we’ll have to wait until summer 2019 for that one to roll out.

The swish design story

The new 8-series doesn’t stray too far from the concept that was revealed at the 2017 Villa d’Este concourse. BMW says the new 8-er is one part of a new design language for the brand, which is meant to be cleaner and more contemporary. Shallow headlights, that can be optioned up to use laser light, flank a massive kidney grille. The grille itself uses active aero aids and an ‘almost fully-sealed underbody’ helps keep the 8-series slippery at speed.

BMW 8-Series at the Paris motor show

New BMW 8-series: engines and performance

Two engines will be available from launch: an 840d and a M850i. Both have BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive system and an eight-speed Steptronic automatic gearbox as standard. Check out the full specs for the two engines below:

BMW 840d xDrive

  • Engine: 3.0-litre straight-six turbodiesel
  • Power/torque: 316bhp/502lb ft
  • 0-62mph/top speed: 4.9sec/155mph limited
  • Claimed economy: 46.3mpg

BMW M850i xDrive

  • Engine: 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8
  • Power/torque: 523bhp/553lb ft
  • 0-62mph/top speed: 3.7sec/155mph limited
  • Claimed economy: 28.3mpg

The xDrive all-wheel drive system just defaults to sending all power to the rears under normal driving conditions to help with efficiency; only when the car detects slip or under heavy load will the fronts light up to add extra grip. BMW’s Integral Active Steering (also known as rear-wheel steering to normal people) is standard, too.

BMW 8-series front tracking

To help keep the big grand tourer as light as possible, aluminium and CFRP (carbonfibre reinforced plastic) is used. The roof, doors, bonnet and front bulkhead are aluminium, while the centre transmission tunnel through the cockpit is made of CFRP. There’s the option to spec more parts in carbonfibre, too.

Read our early drive of the M850i xDrive here

New BMW 8-series: the interior

It’s still familiar BMW inside but with quite a few small detail changes. The 8-series, like the new Z4 and X5, uses the latest version of the brand’s iDrive infotainment and instrument display system and features a high, wide centre console. The dashboard vents are slim, the steering wheel is fat and layout is clean.

BMW 8-series interior

Kit like cruise control, a head-up display, active parking systems and the brand’s Live Cockpit Professional tech is standard. The latter comprises a 12.3-inch instrument display and a 10.25-inch infotainment screen. Microsoft Office is included, as is connectivity with not just your smartphone but Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant smart devices.

There are rear seats, too, though these images don’t quite give away exactly how much room there is back there and there’s a 420-litre boot – good enough for a couple of weekend cases for your trip to the Riviera.

BMW 8-series centre console

What about the four-door BMW 8-series Gran Coupe?

Our snappers have also captured a prototype in four-door Gran Coupe form. As you can probably tell from the name, the Gran Coupe is based on a longer platform, and fits in an extra two doors for rear passengers. Those at the back will benefit from more legroom, too.

Interestingly, BMW showed the M8 Gran Coupe Concept at this year’s Geneva motor show– so we pretty much know what the new car looks like without camo, anyway.

We’d expect the new BMW 8-series Gran Coupe to share the same engine line-up as the coupe, convertible and M models.

Thankfully, the ocular-warping pschedelic disguise will be dropped for production, obvs!

BMW is adding a Convertible model to its new 8-series family, to go on sale in March 2019. Prices are TBC at the time of writing but, as is standard practice, it will cost more than the equivalent 8-series Coupe.

It features a fabric folding soft-top, chosen for its weight and refinement advantages over a folding hard-top, and it has been designed with a similarly fast, curving roofline to that of the 8-series Coupe when the top is up. 

For maximum convenience and pose factor, the roof can be dropped remotely from the key fob, for the ultimate in streetside posing power.

Is the Convertible heavier and floppier than the standard BMW 8-series?

The 8-series Convertible is around 125kg heavier than the Coupe, largely owing to the roof mechanism and some additional bracing ahead of the rear wheels to stiffen the roofless bodyshell. Weight distribution has changed slightly as a result, to a 48:52 front:rear split. 

BMW claims the car’s torsional rigidity remains very stiff overall, a company spokesperson commenting that its test drivers have commented the Convertible feels remarkably similar to the Coupe to drive, even on broken surfaces.

Roomy in the back?

Erm, no. There’s actually slightly more headroom in the rear than the coupe, but less shoulder room, owing to the roof mechanism intruding a little into the sides of the rear cabin.

For the same reason, there’s a narrower aperture to feed items through when the rear seats are folded down. Nevertheless, this is a still a car with a deep boot, and potential to carry long items without particular difficulty.

A boot divider must be in place for the roof to go down, but it can be folded upwards out of the way to increase luggage space when the hood is up. 

The arrival of the Convertible means the full BMW 8-series family will look like this:

  • 8-series Coupe (2 doors)
  • 8-series Convertible (2 doors)
  • 8-series Gran Coupe (4 doors)

The upcoming BMW M8, due to arrive in the latter part of 2019, will also be available in all three bodystyles. Read on for the full story on the hard-top BMW 8-series.

New BMW 8-series: price and release date

The all-new 8-series went on sale in June 2018 with the first deliveries arriving in November 2018. Prices start from £76,270 for an 840d xDrive, or £100,045 for a M850i xDrive.

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