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The M8 will spearhead BMW's return to Le Mans racing.

Out to prove it hasn't lost touch with enthusiasts, BMW has announced the upcoming 8 Series will spawn a full-blown M-tuned model. The company published pictures of a heavily-camouflaged prototype going all out on a test track to whet fans' appetite.

A closer look at the development mule reveals it gets big vents that direct more cooling air into the engine compartment, side skirts, quad exhaust tips, and a bigger spoiler on the trunk lid. The black, ten-spoke alloy wheels hide upgraded brakes on both axles.

BMW isn't ready to publish technical details. This is pure speculation, but the M8 could share its twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 engine with the next M5. The eight-cylinder is expected to send about 600 horsepower to all four wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.

The BMW M8 will make its debut next year, likely a few months after the standard 8 Series arrives. With the M6 coupe out of production and a successor not even rumored -- let alone confirmed -- the M8 might be the only option for buyers who want a two-door M car that's bigger than a 4 Series.

What's next?

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The M8 won't be the final evolution of the born-again 8 Series. It will spawn a track-only model named M8 GTE that will compete in endurance racing events like the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans.

"The BMW M8 GTE development program for our Le Mans comeback is in full swing," said BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt.

Bimmer's next endurance racer will make its competition debut in January of next year at the Daytona 24 Hours Race. Its name suggests it will race in the Grand Touring Endurance (GTE) class.