BMW X8 hybrid prototype rocks a massive grille & falling roof [Update]

TopElectricSUV readers kurt.muc & Wilco Blok have shared a clip of the BMW X8 on test in Germany, ahead of an unveil expected towards the end of 2021.

BMW X8 hybrid car upcoming
The X8 will reportedly be available only in a PHEV form with upwards of 750 hp. Image source: Wilco Blok

Exterior & Interior

While some take it as an Audi Q8 challenger, the BMW X8 is the Bavarian’s answer to the Range Rover Autobiography and Bentley Bentayga. BMW’s former head of development, Klaus Frohlich, had told Autocar UK in 2018 that a product such as the X8 certainly has a market in places like China and that this segment was growing fast.

Codenamed G99, the X8, will be the brand’s flagship, with many reports stating it will be exclusively offered with a hybrid setup. The prototype in question is certainly not hiding its ‘green’ ambitions thanks to the ‘Hybrid Test Vehicle’ sticker on the front door and what we think is a well-camouflaged charging port on the fender.

Our friends at BMWBlog speculate that a posh, upscale look awaits passengers, one that is “dramatically different” from the X7. BMW’s interior designers would give it a top-class feel through refined materials, complete leather upholstery, and different digital screens running a new OS interface (BMW Operating System 8.0), says the BMW expert.

BMW X8 PHEV rear spy shot
The X8 looks quite different from the X7 and isn’t a ‘hack job’ variant. The incoming pinnacle of X range seems to be a proper, high-riding premium SUV-coupe. Image: Wilco Blok & kurt.muc

Powertrain & Performance

It will reportedly combine a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 engine with a plug-in hybrid setup for a total system output of 750 hp. Considering the hybrid BMW SUV’s flagship status, the xDrive all wheel drive system will be offered standard, while the transmission should be the 8-speed automatic borrowed from the X7. With such a powerhouse under the skin, calling it the ‘BMW XM’ is befitting!

BMW X8 rendering front three quarters
South Korean designer Kyuseo Choi’s rendition of the BMW X8.

Speaking to BMW Australia’s Youtube channel, BMW M boss Markus Flasch provided insight on the electrification at the M division –

We will see the first battery-electric M car performance model ready later this year. We will see high-performance hybrid variants pretty soon, and we will see high-performance battery electric vehicles in a couple of years.

Markus Flasch, CEO at BMW M Division during a chat on Youtube with BMW Australia

“With the large engines, the hybridization makes the most sense and also for the cars they are used in like the M5 and large X models,” he added. In all likelihood, Flasch is talking about the high-performance hybrid model that would be launched as the BMW X8 M or the ‘BMW XM’ as some enthusiasts are referring to it.

Last year, despite the pandemic, Bentley recorded its highest ever sales in history, with the Bentayga seeing as many as 4,145 homes. However, sales of the Range Rover dipped due to the pandemic and production constraints, and the model is long in the tooth, having spent nearly 8 years on the market. BMW couldn’t have hoped for a better time to bring the X8 then.

BMW X8 FAQs

What is the BMW X8 release date?

The BMW X8 is expected to debut towards the end of this calendar year.

What are the rivals to the BMW X8?

The Range Rover Hybrid and Bentley Bentayga are key rivals of the BMW X8.

What is the price of the BMW X8?

The BMW X8 should have a starting price in the region of 110,000-120,000 USD.

Featured image: Wilco Blok & kurt.muc