It’s easy to criticize automakers for coming out with a plethora of SUVs, but the fact of the matter is, companies are in this business to make money and that’s what sells these days. BMW hasn’t bolstered its “X” lineup at the expense of traditional models as you can still get everything from a 1 Series hatchback and a 3 Series wagon to an oddball 6 Series Gran Turismo and the fullsize 7 Series sedan. Not only that, but a long-roof M3 is coming soon.
In the meantime, the SUV portfolio is about to get a new range-topper as BMW is currently testing a first-ever X8 at the Nürburgring. The stickers on the front doors and rear bumper denote the prototype’s electrified nature, while the extra cap on the driver’s side front fender reveals the massive SUV had a plug-in hybrid powertrain.
It would appear the prototype had the production body, but those are certainly not the final headlights and taillights. The X8 was using a provisional set much like the next-generation 7 Series spotted the other day. The front lights sit unusually low à la original 8 Series and we’re tempted to believe there is more than meets the eye. BMW might have chosen a split headlight design and perhaps there’s a completely camouflaged separate light assembly just below the corners of the hood.
The disguise gets in the way of seeing the grille, but the kidneys appear to be quite large in the same vein as those of the X7. The side profile reveals a gently sloped roofline likely robbing rearmost passengers of some headroom for the sake of extra style, although the latter part is highly questionable. It’s unclear whether there’s still a third row or the X8 will be sold only with four (or five) seats.
The rear end camo hides what appears to be a sportier design and wide taillights judging by the two sizeable bulges on the extra-large tailgate. A dual exhaust arrangement is peeking through the camouflage and some say this prototype represents the flagship X8 M. Reportedly dubbed “Project Rockstar,” the high-performance SUV is said to use a PHEV setup with around 750 horsepower coming from a twin-turbo 4.4-liter V8 and an electric motor. That output would make the X8 M the most powerful production car from BMW ever.
While the X7 lineup tops out with the M50i version, it appears BMW is preparing a fully fledged M derivative of the X8, one rumored to come with a rear-wheel-drive mode for the AWD system. The crown jewel is expected to arrive about a year after the standard model, which could debut towards the end of 2021.
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