New BMW X8 SUV gets on track ahead of 2022 debut

The launch of the new BMW X8 is edging closer. The big luxury SUV is expected to go on sale next year as a more style-driven counterpart to the full-size X7, rivalling the Mercedes GLS and the Range Rover.

BMW trademarked the X8 nameplate a few years ago, and executives have previously hinted that a new flagship SUV was on the way. The car’s launch will see the company’s line-up of X-badged SUVs expand to 10 models in total, including the all-electric iX3 and iX.

The X8 will be based on the same underpinnings as the X7 and, like BMW’s other even-numbered SUVs, (such as the X4 and X6), it’ll be a coupe-inspired model. It’ll also be aimed primarily at the Chinese and American markets, rather than Europe.

Our spy shots and exclusive images show that the X8 will certainly look more sporty than the X7, but its styling won’t feature all that many coupe-SUV cues.

It’ll retain an upright profile, but there’ll be some surfacing changes, such as a more steeply raked roof and an upswept waistline. Some sportier touches will also feature at the rear, with far more pronounced wheel arch lines, and a bumper that’s home to two oversized exhausts.

The X8’s upright front end will feature the X7’s huge kidney grilles, but they will be flanked by split-level LED headlights. This design theme will feature on some of the company’s other upcoming range-topping models, such as the all-new 7 Series saloon, due in 2022.

We’re yet to see the X8’s cabin, but it’s likely to be less of a departure from the X7 than the exterior, using the same design and technology. There’ll be dual 12.3-inch displays up front, powered by BMW’s latest iDrive infotainment system. Also, with BMW resisting the urge to make the X8 a true coupé-SUV, the more upright rear end could still be home to a third row of seats, making it a sportier, but slightly less spacious alternative to the X7.

BMW recently registered a trademark for the ‘X8 M’ badge, suggesting there’ll be a performance-focussed model at the top of the SUV’s line-up, which we expect will use the same twin-turbocharged 4.4-litre V8 as the BMW X5 M Competition.

In the X5 M it develops 459kW, which is enough to propel the SUV from 0-100km/h in 3.8 seconds. Similar power and performance would see the X8 M compete with models such as the Porsche Cayenne Coupe Turbo.

Plug-in hybrid power is yet to appear in the X7 but, as the car we’ve spied displayed ‘hybrid test vehicle’ stickers on its doors, it’s all but certain to appear on the new X8.

It’s likely that the hybrid X8 will also turn to the X5 for its plug-in technology, this time from the xDrive45e. That model’s turbocharged 3.0-litre straight-six, electric motor and 24kWh lithium-ion battery are good for 294kW and a maximum electric range of 80 kilometres, although the heavier X8 will likely knock a few miles off that latter figure.

Luke Wilkinson

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