Should BMW make an M8 Touring?
As you may have seen, BMW recently released the BMW M3 Touring. And if my WhatsApp pings and TG’s Instagram DMs are anything to go by, this has caused quite a hoo-ha within car enthusiast circles. Why? Well, to many grafting a boot onto the quintessential performance saloon might just be the one-size-fits-all, two birds one stone golden bullet of practical performance.
Now, I’m not afraid to hold up my hands and admit something: I am one of those people who has got gooey-eyed and dewy-thighed over the M3 Touring. Last year, I was the lucky so-and-so who got to run a G80 M3 and was frothing at the thought of the Touring given the saloon's highly configurable and very useable multifaceted personality. Finally getting behind the wheel didn’t dampen my expectations. But, more usefully, it offered some very useful context and perspective for the M8. And also got me thinking about the ultimate one-size-fits-all, two birds one stone golden bullet of practical performance: an M8 Touring.
But let’s start with some useful – and quite shocking – financial context. For the price of our top-spec £150k BMW M8 you can get both an M3 Touring (£86k) and the new, shockingly expensive BMW M2 (£65k). Is the M8 as good as those two cars combined? Nope. Does it offer something different? Yes. Hopping from the M3 to M8 did make me appreciate the little and easily overlooked details that give it a more luxurious standing in the M pecking order.
Although they fundamentally share the same interior architecture and layout, the quality of materials and underlying effort to make people in the cabin feel more appreciated is definitely present in the M8. There’s more detail and intricacy; from the soft close doors, to the illuminated ninja star speakers behind the decorative Bowers & Wilkins embossed perforated spirograph covers, to the heated armrests and the quilted door cards. It’s more artistic and thoughtful throughout.
I’ve never really quite got manufacturers’ love of ambient lighting, but I’ve found the M8's to be the most evocative and palatable execution of a nightclub on wheels as the cool blue (you can change it to whatever hue you want) subtly bouncing off the white leather at night feels properly premium. Plus, with the M3 now getting a 12.3-inch curved display for the driver, conjoined with a 14.9-inch infotainment screen it’s now overly complex and with fussy with physical buttons replaced by haptics, the M8 may be peak modern BMW interior.
When it came to the driving I forgot how flipping fast an M3 is. It’s also mildly shocking how small and placeable it is in comparison to the M8. Since I ran one I’m near certain that they’ve changed the steering to be quicker and more reactive – probably to help mask the underlying weight of the thing – and although it isn’t fizzing with feedback it makes the M8's steering feel stolid. But as effective as the S58 straight-six is, it does lack the character and meat of the M8's eight-cylinder. Finally, where the eight-speed automatic feels lost and hesitant in the M3, it’s perfect for the character of its bigger, more muscular sophisticated sibling.
So how could you justify the price of the M8 when an M5 has similar performance for less money and an M3 Touring has plenty of performance (all you’d ever need, if not more than you’d ever need) plus more practicality? Well, by making it more practical and useable, of course. And here comes the ‘what if moment’. If BMW made an M8 Touring what would that look like? Well, thanks to Jake Beauvois (@J.B.Cars on Instagram) we now know. And the results are awesome.
Using his lifelong love of cars and exceedingly enviable Photoshop wizardry skills, Jake was able to take my figurative flurry/concept and turn it into a reality. Using the more-practical (and popular given how many I’ve seen on the road compared to Coupes) four-door M8 GC, Jake put it under the knife and gave it an extension. He even considered little details like the iconic independently opening tailgate window tailgate to lob your shopping in without the Labrador jumping out.
Now, I may be biased, but finished in Aventurine Red II doesn’t it look utterly spectacular? And re-positions the M8 somewhere different; away from the M5 and as a more luxurious, powerful M3 Touring, therefore finally justifying the giant price delta. If anything, surely it’s a better solution to the visually gristly BMW XM which shares the same engine and price tag as the M8? Watcha think, BMW?