BMW is testing what appears to be a mid-engined 8 Series

Our paparazzi just spotted a partly camouflaged BMW 8 Series near the Nurburgring track. Judging by the body elements that are hidden, it appears to be a facelifted version of the big coupe, but some other details suggest that BMW may be testing something entirely different, including some sort of mid-engined mule. What is Munich up to?

Is BMW testing a mid-cycle facelift for the 8 Series?

Why Is BMW Testing This Weird Mid-Engined 8 Series Mule? Exterior Spyshots
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This prototype features camouflaged front and rear fascia, which is usually a sign that a mid-cycle facelift is underway. Facelifts usually come with mild changes front and rear, so automakers usually hide these sections. The front fascia looks similar to the M850i, while the rear end features a quad exhaust layout, which is offered on the hardcore M8 model. It also features prototype taillights with small round lights at the corners. The side skirts are in a different color compared to the body, while the brakes seem to be of the high-performance variety.

So far, it seems like a revised 8 Series model in the making. However, take a closer look at the rear quarter windows, and you’ll notice that it’s louvered. The rear window is also partly camouflaged, making it difficult to peek inside.

These two details, as well as the fact that the exhaust note is different, prompted our photographers to speculate that this mule may feature a mid-engine layout.

Is this actually a mid-engined Bimmer?

Why Is BMW Testing This Weird Mid-Engined 8 Series Mule? Exterior Spyshots
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Well, it’s difficult to tell without more in-detail investigation. Our paparazzi didn’t get the chance to look through the rear window, so we’re stuck with what we can see from the outside. The most basic speculation we can discuss is that the louvered quarter windows could help cool a mid-mounted engine. However, this wouldn’t be enough. A mid-engined layout requires vents in the rear fenders and side skirts. What’s more, louvered quarter windows are usually added for looks and not as an aerodynamic and cooling device. It’s a feature you’ll find on some Shelby Mustang models, among other performance cars. The black decals on the rear window also have nothing to do with a mid-engined layout. They’re usually either louvered or plain normal, as the extra era is fed to the engine through the rear fenders.

Granted, it's more than doable to test a midship drivetrain in the body of a front-engined car.

Chevrolet did the same for the C8 Corvette, which was originally tested using a C7 body. But the lack of proper cooling vents tells me that this prototype still has its engine in the front. So what is BMW actually testing here?

BMW could be testing a hybrid setup

Why Is BMW Testing This Weird Mid-Engined 8 Series Mule? Exterior Spyshots
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Just because the engine is in the front, it doesn’t mean that the rear section can’t hide a different drivetrain component.

BMW is already working to electrify its entire lineup, which will include mostly all-electric and hybrid models in just a few years, and it's very likely that it is testing a gas-electric combo in this mule.

Given the sporty front bumper and the quad exhaust layout, it could be a performance-oriented model, maybe an alternative to the M8 with the 4.4-liter V-8 and an electric motor. Maybe something a "CS" or "CSi" badge, like the first-generation 8 Series.

BMW could be testing just a special-edition 8 Series

Why Is BMW Testing This Weird Mid-Engined 8 Series Mule? Exterior Spyshots
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The louvered quarter windows and the covered rear window could be just a couple of details that BMW is adding to a special-edition BMW. It could be a gas-only variant of the 8 Series with a sportier look, or a CS model without the electric setup mentioned above. It’s a prototype that could gain a bigger rear spoiler and maybe some race-inspired features as development moves forward. It could also be a limited-edition model inspired by the M8 GTE race car.

Ciprian Florea
Senior Editor and Supercar Expert - ciprian@topspeed.com
Ciprian's passion for everything with four wheels (and more) started back when he was just a little boy, and the Lamborghini Countach was still the coolest car poster you could hang on your wall. Ciprian's career as a journalist began long before earning a Bachelor's degree, but it was only after graduating that his love for cars became a profession.  Read More
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