I’ve seen numerous idea or prototype automobiles at auto reveals and press junkets over time. Not often does anybody ever get to drive them, as a result of idea automobiles are, effectively, solely ideas. One among form and invariably hand-built, they’re obscenely costly, too. Their major goal in life is to showcase new styling and new know-how. Consider them as eye sweet aimed to seize consideration, from everybody and particularly away from the competitors.
I confess, I’ve additionally lengthy harbored a deep need to simply leap in and drive off into the sundown with one in every of these handmade ideas. Spoiler alert: that’s virtually precisely what I did.
BMW’s Idea eight Collection isn’t any exception to my felonious lusts, besides that it’s distinctive in each respect when it was unveiled at this yr’s Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este at Lake Como, Italy. BMW couldn’t have picked a extra prestigious and unique venue for the revealing. There are solely three main concours price mentioning, with d’Eleganza sharing the highlight with the Pebble Seashore Concours d’Magnificence and Amelia Island Concours d’Magnificence. When you’re feeling notably beneficiant, the Goodwood Pageant of Pace may nudge that complete as much as 4.
Among the many better of the perfect, then, that is essentially the most unique and conventional heritage occasion for traditional automobiles and bikes. What made this occasion distinctive past others is that, it along with bringing the rarest of the uncommon classic automobiles collectively, there’s additionally a spot for ideas, one-offs, and prototypes.
BMW Group had greater than its justifiable share of these for 2017. Its bike division unveiled the Motorrad Hyperlink, its imaginative and prescient of the way forward for mobility, whereas Rolls-Royce introduced alongside its bespoke Sweptail. That was specifically crafted for one notably well-off buyer with the persistence to attend almost 4 years for it to be constructed.
For me, although, the star of the line-up was the Idea eight Collection. Why is it so particular? Consider it because the purest instance of sportiness and luxurious from a BMW coupe. Extra importantly, a lot of what we see right here, each inside and outside, will translate over to the 2018 BMW eight Collection Coupe, anticipated to go on sale subsequent yr.
After spending a good period of time with Marc Giard, head of BMW Design Idea Vehicles, I broke it to him that it was time to vacate the motive force’s seat, as a result of I used to be leaping in for a fast spin across the grounds of Villa Erba. For a second he appeared genuinely shocked – I can solely think about the ideas working via his thoughts went one thing alongside the traces of “wait, what, no, oh no you’re not; there’s no means you’re driving my child round!” – however fortunately for me what got here out of his mouth was an enthusiastic “good for you!”
As soon as behind the wheel, I used to be reminded of the opposite uncomfortable reality about idea automobiles: they’re not all the pieces they may seem like. Nonetheless, I couldn’t assist however lose myself to the sense of being one with the Idea eight Collection: the main target is on you, the motive force, and all the pieces is designed to cater to your each want. It begins from the steering wheel itself, thick-rimmed and punctured with hand-polished aluminum spokes “arrowing” ahead in direction of the hub which can be distinctive and purposeful.
The highest and backside of the wheel are comparatively flat, whereas the wheel general is on the smaller measurement, making it simpler to barter via tight turns. Wrapping my fingers across the leather-encased rim and caressing my fingers over the red-anodized shift paddles was sufficient to get my coronary heart racing (even when the information of the undisclosed, however virtually actually large, price ticket for the automotive wasn’t already in the back of my thoughts). How a lot of that lovely detailing makes it from the idea and into manufacturing stays to be seen.
The dashboard, nonetheless, showcases the seventh-gen iDrive and is comparatively near manufacturing. Throughout BMW’s Future Summit in Munich, I acquired just a few fast glances of the brand new show in entrance of the motive force and, from that sneak-peek, it’s wanting nice. There are two major modes, every adjusting the way you eat particulars like engine velocity, the speedometer, and navigation steerage. Have interaction sport mode, as an example, and the digital cluster places the speedo lifeless middle, flanked by a pair of vertical rev-counters.
There’s a cohesiveness between the Idea eight Collection’ exterior and inner design which suggests BMW’s designers went the additional mile over a typical present automotive. That goes proper right down to the supplies inside out out, like carbon-fiber. The unique sport seats, as an example, are wrapped up in a carbon-fiber shell and cuddle your physique snugly and comfortably, whereas additionally talking volumes in regards to the efficiency of the automotive. They wrap round you an identical means a customized Italian swimsuit hangs completely in your physique, however once more, there’s no assure they’ll make it via to the manufacturing automotive.
Lastly, I do know what you’re actually interested by: what’s it like to really drive the Idea eight Collection? Sadly I’d be mendacity to you if I stated it was very good, after which go on and on in regards to the driving dynamics and the uncooked energy of engine.
Horsepower and torque? I do not know, and BMW isn’t speaking specifics but. How epic would it not be if BMW endowed the brand new eight with the identical V12 because the 760i xDrive, solely with a guide gearbox? After all, we already know that’s not taking place, as a result of the modern-day eight Collection will solely include an automated transmission.
If BMW continues to comply with the current development of providing up all kinds of engine choices in every collection, then we are able to anticipate to see the lion share of gross sales for six- and eight-cylinders, all the way in which as much as the Four.Four-liter twin turbo V8, with optionally available xDrive all-wheel-drive. Let’s go loopy right here and predict that the already-confirmed BMW M8 could be prefer to drive, powered by a 6.6-liter 12-cylinder engine. Be careful, Mercedes-AMG, BMW is placing your AMG S63 Coupe on discover. That being stated, doubtlessly simply as doubtless that we’ll see a hybrid model of some form, courtesy of BMW’s versatile CLAR structure.
How does it deal with? Properly, at speeds between idle and 15mph, it wasn’t fairly the thrilling expertise one would possibly anticipate from the “Final Driving Machine.” Even the ignition begin button isn’t purposeful; I couldn’t assist however giggle on the extra mundane means during which the idea automotive was began up.
Nonetheless, that’s par for the course while you’re coping with a valuable – and precocious – idea automotive, and one which was rapidly whisked away as quickly as I relinquished my place behind the wheel. Even when I solely acquired to cruise forward of the sundown, fairly than race off into it, the fast squirt across the beautiful grounds of Villa Verba was sufficient to stoke my anticipation for the BMW eight Collection subsequent yr. The time is ripe for an enormous, luxurious Baviarian GT, and even just a bit style has me wanting to see what BMW’s engineers have in retailer.