There have been a few reports this year that a BMW X8 is in the works — a more stylized version of the X7 flagship crossover. Now one of our spy photographers seems to have finally caught the rumored crossover on camera. It's certainly about the same size as the X7, but with significant styling changes that seem more inspired by the X2 than the X4 or X6.
The photos show the X8 prototype right next to a current X7, revealing that the crossover is about the same length and height. It also gives a nice reference for how the X8 differs in styling. Starting with the front, the X8 appears to adopt a headlight strategy pioneered by the Nissan Juke and Jeep Cherokee, in which the main illumination comes from large round lamps lower in the grille while the thin, wide lamps that look like other BMW headlights are actually just daytime running lamps. There also looks to be more of a step down in the hood from where it meets the grille to where the headlights and fenders are, a bit like a Ram 1500. The grille itself seems to be as tall as the X7 grille, but wider.
Viewing the X8 in profile reveals that it has a low, tapering roof, as expected. But instead of ending in a fastback design like the X4 or X6, it has a more upright, traditional hatch like the X2. Also, while there is some fake bodywork on the rear pillar, we expect the design will be very much like the X2. Evidence of this lies in the window sill that kicks up slightly behind the rear door. BMW's decision to go with this more traditional hatchback design is a bit of a surprise. We wonder if part of the reason is that the company may still want to offer a third-row seat, and an X4/X6-style roofline would make that impossible.
From the back, we can see that the X8 has much more prominent, aggressive rear fenders. It gives the crossover a more athletic look than the X7. Those fenders seem to meet up with the rear taillights that, while still thin and wide, are larger than the X7's. With the lower roofline, and thus shorter rear hatch, we also suspect the X8 may have a single-piece hatch, rather than the X7's split hatch and tailgate.
This prototype looks pretty far along in design and development, so we wouldn't be surprised if we see the production version in a year or two. Some reports have suggested it could make its debut as a 2022 model late next year. It's also possible that an M version could appear a year later as a plug-in hybrid making as much as 750 horsepower.