The long-awaited showdown between the two German titans is finally close to happening

Eighteen years. That’s how long it’s been since BMW had a model called the 8 Series. It seems like a lifetime ago, but fans of the old 8 Series will probably tell you they still think about one of BMW’s most iconic models to this day. I know I fall in that category, which isn’t all that surprising considering my well-known fascination for the old 8er. But that was then and this is now. The old 8 Series may be a sought-after collectible now, but BMW is determined to bring some shine back to the name with the introduction of the new 8 Series Concept.

BMW’s intentions for the 8 Series name is already known. It plans to bring it back to replace the outgoing 6 Series as the company’s next flagship model. It’s a great plan from all angles, one that should give some of Bimmer’s biggest rivals enough reason to pause and look over at Bavaria to see what it’s up to. I imagine Mercedes is doing just that because the return of the 8 Series means that the S-Class finally gets the fierce rival it’s been missing for close to two decades. The question now is whether BMW’s 8 Series Concept has the goods to compete against the Mercedes S-Class Coupe. Unfortunately, we’re no closer to finding an answer to that because the 8 Series isn’t scheduled to hit production form until 2018. What we do have now, thanks to BMW, is a concept that’s striking enough to dissect. What better way to do that than to put it up against Mercedes’ own flagship luxury coupe.

Continue after the jump to read the full story,

Exterior

It’s come to this, hasn’t it? The arrival of the BMW 8 Series is expected to shake-up its segment and of all the cars in said segment, the Mercedes S-Class Coupe will be the one that’s going to be in the 8er’s crosshairs. To be clear, we all knew that this was coming, and now that we’re close to finally seeing these two titans square off, it’s time to see how the 8 Series compares to the S-Class Coupe’s gorgeous styling.

How Does the BMW 8 Series Concept Stack Up Against the Mercedes S-Class Coupe? Exterior High Resolution
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How Does the BMW 8 Series Concept Stack Up Against the Mercedes S-Class Coupe? Exterior High Resolution
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2015 Mercedes S-Class Coupe High Resolution Exterior
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2015 Mercedes S-Class Coupe High Resolution Exterior
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BMW 8 Series Concept on top, Mercedes C-Class Coupe on bottom

Yes, I’m a big fan of the S-Class Coupe. It’s elegant and classy, yet it also possesses that sporting quality that Mercedes is known for. There’s something to be said for seamless combining all those elements together without one particular element standing out from the others. The S-Class accomplishes that, and in my mind, it’s something that BMW should pay careful attention to when it’s time to roll out the production 8 Series.

How Does the BMW 8 Series Concept Stack Up Against the Mercedes S-Class Coupe? Exterior High Resolution
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2015 Mercedes S-Class Coupe High Resolution Exterior
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The concept’s front section, in particular, looks a little too aggressive for a car that’s supposed to be BMW’s new flagship model.

I’ll be honest; I’m a little underwhelmed on how the 8 Series Concept turned out. Maybe my admiration for the old 8 Series came rushing back to the surface, but there’s something about this concept design that doesn’t make as emotionally invested as I am on the S-Class Coupe. The concept’s front section, in particular, looks a little too aggressive for a car that’s supposed to be BMW’s new flagship model. I’d be a little more receptive to it if this turned out to be the front section of the new BMW sports car that the company is developing with Toyota, but not as much with the 8 Series.

The long and short of it is this. A flagship model should imbibe all of the qualities of an automaker, particularly when it comes to its design. Mercedes did a remarkable job on the S-Class Coupe by putting all those pieces together. You can say the car is sporty, luxurious, class, or elegant and you wouldn’t be wrong because the coupe really is all of those things. The 8 Series, on the other hand, looks as if a lot of time was spent focusing on making it as aggressive as it does. Some people may like it and I wouldn’t begrudge them for feeling that way. But in my end, there’s an absence of aesthetic balance on the 8 Series that all flagship models are supposed to have.

Interior

The tricky thing with the BMW 8 Series’ interior is that it’s technically still a concept so there’s no telling how much of it will translate into the production model. But since the concept is all that we get for now, it’s what we’re going to use to compare against the interior of the S-Class Coupe. In so many words then, there’s a world of difference between the two and for what they’re both worth, I can’t decide which one I like better. I’m not going to bother with the premium materials and luxury amenities because both models have them in spades. It’d be like picking between a frankfurter or a Hungarian sausage. You can’t go wrong with either of the two.

How Does the BMW 8 Series Concept Stack Up Against the Mercedes S-Class Coupe? Interior High Resolution
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2015 Mercedes S-Class Coupe Interior
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8 Series Concept interior on the left, C-Class Interior on the right
What I will say in terms of the dramatic difference between the two cabins is the layout that BMW and Mercedes adopted.

What I will say in terms of the dramatic difference between the two cabins is the layout that BMW and Mercedes adopted. Bimmer, for its part, presented the cabin of the 8 Series Concept to be as clean as clean can be. Pretty much everything you need in terms of functions can be found on the center console. There’s no wasted space since everything is arranged so neatly. Remember what I said about a flagship model’s responsibility to evoke the automaker’s unfiltered emotion? The interior of the BMW 8 Series has that and it’s a beautiful thing. Let’s hope then that the production version follows this template. On the other hand, the interior of the S-Class Coupe is busier in the sense that there are way too many buttons and switches scattered throughout the cabin. Part of its is because of necessity since the floating dashboard configuration rids it of a center stack where all those buttons could have been placed. The separation of the infotainment display is even more prominent on the Mercedes. Some people won’t think too much of it (it really isn’t an issue unless you’re as OCD as I am) but that layout does rob it of the clean and streamlined look that the 8 Series Concept’s center console and stack possess.

Drivetrain

How Does the BMW 8 Series Concept Stack Up Against the Mercedes S-Class Coupe? Exterior High Resolution
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When you’re talking about cars like the BMW 8 Series and the Mercedes S-Class Coupe, power and performance aren’t the most important things. But, (and this is a very big “But!”) they’re just as important as any other feature on both models. Part of it is because of the automotive mantra “numbers sell.” The higher the number, the more people will gravitate towards it. On that end, we already know what the Mercedes S-Class Coupe is capable of. The range-topping, non-AMG, S550 model prominently features a 4.7-liter biturbo V-8 engine that produces 449 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque.

The power output may not sound as impressive when you consider that some Mercedes models that sit below the S-Class Coupe have more power than the flagship. Rest assured though, whatever it lacks in outright horses, it more than makes up for in torque, which really is the more important number for a car that belongs in the flagship segment. Put those numbers to good use then and you’re looking at a luxury coupe that can blitz its way to 60 mph from an idle position in just 4.5 seconds before setting off and peaking at an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph.

2016 BMW 7 Series Drivetrain
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2018 Mercedes-AMG S63 High Resolution Drivetrain
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BMW 7 Series V-8 Mercedes S-Class Coupe V-8
Both models are strong competitors, but the S-Class predominantly has a little more power under the hood

The case for the BMW 8 Series Concept’s power and performance capabilities is a little trickier because BMW itself hasn’t revealed anything worth mentioning. For now, what we can do is assume that the 8 Series will share some type of engine with the 7 Series, which would make more sense than BMW developing a new engine for the 8er. There are plenty of engines to choose from then, but the most likely candidate for the range-topping, non-M 8 Series – presumably called the 850i – is the 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8 engine that packs 445 horsepower and 480 pound-feet of twist. It falls a little short than what the S-Class Coupe is capable of, so expect BMW to do a little tweaking and squeezing on its V-8 to at least come a little closer to what Merc has on offer for its luxury coupe. Even if BMW chooses to keep its hands in its pockets and let its V-8 produce what it already can, the engine shouldn’t have an issue with its 0-to-60-mph time since I assume it’ll take around the same time (4.5 seconds) as the S-Class Coupe. Likewise, the 850i’s top speed should also be electronically limited to 155 mph.

BMW 840 i BMW 850i Mercedes S550 Mercedes S63
Engine 3.0-liter Inline-Six 4.4-liter V-8 4.7-liter V-8 Handcrafted 5.5-liter V-8
Transmission Eight-Speed Automatic Eight-Speed Automatic Nine-Speed Automatic Seven-Speed MCT
Engine Technology BMW TwinPower Turbo BMW TwinPower Turbo Mercedes Biturbo Mercedes Biturbo
Engine power 320 HP @ 5,200-6,500 RPM 445 HP @ 5,500-6,000 RPM 449 HP @ 5,250 - 5,550 RPM 577 HP @ 5,500 RPM
Engine torque 330 LB-FT @ 1,380 RPM 480 LB-FT @ 1,800-4,500 RPM 516 LB-FT @ 1,800 - 3,500 RPM 664 LB-FT @ 2,250 - 4,300 RPM
Top speed 155 MPH 155 MPH 155 MPH 155 MPH
0-60 mph 5.4 seconds 4.3 seconds 4.5 seconds 3.8 seconds
Fuel Economy 21 mpg cty/ 29 mph hwy 17 mpg cty / 26 mpg hwy 17 mpg cty/ 25 mpg hwy 15 mpg cty/ 23 mpg hwy

Conclusion

How Does the BMW 8 Series Concept Stack Up Against the Mercedes S-Class Coupe? Exterior High Resolution
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2015 Mercedes S-Class Coupe High Resolution Exterior
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It’s no secret that BMW is preparing the 8 Series to go up against the Mercedes S-Class Coupe. There’s no mystery behind that. What’s telling at this point is that BMW appears to be taking a slight detour on its strategy by presenting the 8 Series Concept as more of a performance car than a luxury one. I know the balance between the two is delicate and the 8er is still, technically, a concept, but I still find it a little curious why the 8 Series looks as aggressive as it does compared to what the industry’s expectations were. Make no mistake, it’s not a bad strategy by any means; it’s a just different one from what we thought it was going to be. The question moving forward is whether or not BMW sticks to what it has with the 8 Series Concept or if it still has a few tricks up its sleeve.

As it stands though, if somebody asked me to pick between the two, my money would go to the Mercedes S-Class Coupe because it better embodies what a flagship luxury coupe should be like.

What do you think?
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