Sleek BMW Concept Skytop convertible could preview next 8 Series

An M8 in a fancy frock?

BMW has revealed a one-off, open-top show car called the Concept Skytop. The roadster is designed to hark back to previous fan favourites, including the BMW Z8 of the 1990s and the 503 of the 1950s, but rumours abound that this vehicle previews a future replacement for the 8 Series grand tourer.

There’s certainly some BMW 8 Series influence in the design, with a similarly muscular stance and reminiscent kidney grille, but the Skytop gets the shark-like nose design of the Z8.

BMW Concept Skytop

Some fans of the brand will also be pleased to see the Bavarian brand stick with a more conventionally sized grille than has been seen of late on cars such as the 4 Series and the iX electric SUV.

BMW says the car’s clean style is intended to inspire travel, with just a few lines on the sculpted body and light-alloy wheels.

There’s clearly a degree of inspiration from the world of yachts in the rear bodywork, which provides a targa-like effect with a rear roll bar built into the tail. That has also given BMW the chance to add the famous “Hofmeister kink” — the upward line in the shoulder — into the rear quarter panel.

BMW Concept Skytop

Slimmest rear lights possible

In keeping with the clean aesthetic, the Skytop, which was unveiled at this year’s Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este, on the shores of Lake Como, Italy, has narrow lights with what BMW calls “the slimmest profile currently available.” The sense of compactness is increased using thin lines of LEDs to accentuate the slim design that’s yet another nod to the Z8.

Similarly, the tail of the car features simple, faired-in exhaust tips, which barely protrude from the wide rear bumper volume.

BMW Concept Skytop

The roof is finished in a reddish-brown leather and features two removable parts, each of which can be stowed in a special compartment in the boot. When that has been removed, onlookers can see the reddish-brown leather replicated in the rollover bar.

Not a new interior

Interestingly, the car has much the same interior as the 8 Series, with a separate instrument cluster and touchscreen, which suggests the show car is a modified M8 Competition Convertible. It’s thought that any production version of the Concept Skytop would have BMW’s latest-generation infotainment technology using a large, curved display layout, as seen in the current 5 Series/ i5 and 7 Series/ i7 and other models in the range.

BMW Concept Skytop

However, BMW seems to have lined the cabin with some more interesting details than those currently fitted to the 8 Series.

Not only do the seats get brogue-style accents, but there’s more of that reddish-brown colour to the leather, while crystal features prominently. There are crystal accents in the head restraints and on the centre console, where the existing 8 Series’ gear selector and iDrive rotary infotainment controller remain more or less untouched.

V8 power of course

While BMW has said little about the powertrain under the Skytop’s skin, our suspicions about the M8 Competition underpinnings are only reinforced by BMW’s confirmation that a V8 engine features.

BMW Concept Skytop

Power outputs and drive systems have not been announced, but the images reveal an automatic gearbox — presumably the same eight-speed automatic found in the existing 8 Series — and BMW says it uses the most powerful V8 currently in the range. That would suggest the M8 Competition’s 616bhp, twin-turbocharged engine is lurking under the long nose.

Not that any of that is too important at present, because the Skytop is not going on sale any time soon. However, this could be an early design study for a future grand tourer, with the current 8 Series expected to reach the end of its natural life sometime after 2025. How many of the Skytop’s design features will make it into production is as yet unknown.

“The BMW Concept Skytop is a truly unique and exotic design, in the tradition of the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este,” said Adrian van Hooydonk, head of BMW Group Design. “It offers a combination of driving dynamics and elegance at the highest level, comparable to its historic ancestors, like the BMW Z8 or BMW 503.”

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