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Too good to be real? The BMW Concept Skytop

Updated: Jun 8

BMW Skytop concept

BMW has once again wowed the crowd at Villa d’Este and beyond with a striking new concept. Ken Pearson dissects the BMW Skytop, and ponders if this one will break the mold and become a production reality...

Look at it. The BMW Concept Skytop amazingly comes from the same brand that brought us the XM, but in stark contrast to the overstyled SUV, this large GT is a wonderfully minimalistic blend of classic and modern BMW features. It’s got it all: the quad headlamps, two-layer tail lights, right-sized kidney grilles and a pointed bumper. There’s no mistaking the Skytop for anything other than a BMW, especially with the Z8 inspired front end. It would be easy to say that the Skytop is something of a greatest hits compilation of the brand’s best lines and shapes.

However, among the familiarity are some novel touches like the ridge that rises from the end of the bonnet and heads back towards the passenger cabin, before continuing as a chrome strip along the rear deck. It’s new, but it doesn’t look out of place. The side profile is defined by one gently rising crease that guides the eye from the front wheel to the accentuated rear wheel arch, subtly suggesting that the rear wheels are responsible for delivering a rather large amount of performance.

This is where the Skytop goes back to using a staple of the BMW range, as power comes from a 4.4 litre biturbo V8 engine which produces 617 bhp and 553 lb ft (750 nm). While the engine comes from the M8 Competition, there is no word on whether it sends its performance to the rear wheels alone, or all four with xDrive. Sticking with the theme of BMW must-haves and returning to the styling, the Hofmeister kink is formed from silver trim that rises immediately after the wing-shaped door handles, before heading skywards towards a rather unexpected design feature: a rollover bar.

BMW Skytop concept
BMW Skytop concept
BMW Skytop concept

Now, this is to be expected for any open-top model but the difference here is that it forms a full-width rollover bar, similar to what is seen on the Porsche 911 Targa. This is something that we’ve not seen on a BMW since the 1998 V12 LM prototype racer, but that car never had a roof to remove in the first place. The targa-style (but not Targa-style because Porsche own the naming rights to that) design is perhaps the biggest design surprise that the Skytop has to offer, but it works well. The forward-leaning rollover bar serves as the start point for the prominent rear bodywork to begin to gently fall down towards the rear deck, and also makes it impossible not to look towards the interior.

The cabin is clearly that of the 8 Series Convertible, but there are some excellent details that set it apart from a mass-market model. Chiefly, the use of coloured crystals that are found in the gear selector, seats and steering wheel. Rather than creating a diamanté cringe-fest, the crystals nicely contrast the monotone dark brown leather which is used on almost every interior surface save for the two digital displays, the air vents and the door handles.

The detailing has been worked into the material itself as opposed to being stitched in, with perforations inspired by brogue shoes adding some texture to things like the door cards and grab handles. The speaker grilles and sun visors are covered in leather, and the use of the material extends from the cabin to the exterior; look closely and you’ll see that the top of the rollover bar, along with the two-piece removable roof panel are made of the same flayed cow. Who said concept cars had to be completely restrained nowadays?

Just like when BMW showed the fantastic Z4-based Concept Touring Coupe at last year’s Villa d’Este, the response towards the Skytop has been overwhelmingly positive and talk has very quickly turned to the prospect of BMW putting the car into low-volume production. Twelve months ago, articles sprung up claiming that the revival of the Z3 M Coupe had been confirmed and that a small volume would be made, each to be priced at over £200,000. Then, the trail went cold and it became apparent that the concept would remain a concept. So you may understand my scepticism as history is somewhat repeating itself with this year’s concours special. 

BMW Skytop concept
BMW Skytop concept
BMW Skytop concept

However, I invite you to look closely once more at the Skytop. Specifically at the A-pillar, the cabin layout, infotainment displays and even the four window switches that are found on the driver’s door card…they are all production parts, currently used in the 8 Series. This leads on to my one criticism of the car’s styling; the rear deck is a touch too long to my eyes and the rollover bar is a tad too close to the centre of the car, rather than the rear deck; it looks like the tall rear bodywork sits where some rear seats would in the four-seat 8 Series Convertible…

The plot thickens when looking at BMW’s website, where the final text that follows the froth-inducing descriptions of the car reads as follows: “perhaps unique vehicles will not always have to remain unique – at Lake Como and the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este, automotive dreaming has always been allowed.”

An unassuming line saying “Learn more about the BMW Concept Skytop” redirects to a page on the BMW Special Sales website, where you are invited to register your interest for “further information about the BMW Concept Skytop and a possible limited edition of this Concept Car from BMW AG” which seems to suggest that if the demand is there, this concept may yet become a reality.

For now, we’ll have to keep our fingers crossed in the hope that more than one Skytop will be allowed to grace the roads. If it does go into production, I hope that the turbine wheels, silver-bronze paintwork and that exceptional festival of brown leather make up the only orderable specification. Above all though, I hope that the car doesn’t share the same fate as its Z4-based predecessor and become another breathtaking model that was too good to be real.

BMW Skytop concept
BMW Skytop concept


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