- The upcoming BMW X8 doesn't have any direct rivals from Mercedes-Benz or Audi.
- But it competes against something, right?
- Here are the vehicles that will battle the X8 for your luxury SUV money.
The BMW X8 is somewhat uncharted territory for a German automaker. It's been a while since one brand out of the Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz triumvirate has developed a vehicle that doesn't match up with what the other two produce. But that will be the case with the forthcoming X8, a large SUV that ditches the third row and adopts a sportier roofline.
It's the same formula BMW applies to its own X6, Mercedes to the GLE Coupe and Audi to the Q8. But those are all midsize SUVs, making the X8 the first plus-size SUV among all three brands to try this tack.
So what really does the X8 compete against? We examine the market to find out.
2021 Land Rover Range Rover Picture
There's no third-row variant of the big Range Rover (though, curiously, the smaller Range Rover Sport has a third-row option), making this bruiser one of the only large two-row SUVs out there. That makes it a perfect foil for the X8, but note that we believe the BMW will start at a slightly lower price point than the Range Rover's current base price of around $93,000.
Even without seeing a final production version of the X8 yet, we think the Land Rover Range Rover will have a tough battle against the BMW. We regard the three-row BMW X7 (on which the X8 is based) highly in its class — it earns a solid 7.9/10 score from our staff of experts. The Range Rover, on the other hand, scores a paltry 6.9/10 in our Super Luxury SUV class — a rather embarrassing showing for a vehicle that costs nearly six figures. The subpar infotainment system is merely the tipping point for the Range Rover's flaws, which also include tepid performance from the base engine and a floaty, overly soft ride.
The one bright side? A new Range Rover is in the works, and advancements in other Land Rover products have us hopeful that the next Range Rover will atone for the current model's most egregious sins.
The Tesla Model X is a little shorter than the X7, which means it should be roughly the same length as the X8. This electric SUV is available with six or seven seats, but a five-seat, two-row configuration comes standard.
The Model X shines thanks to impressive acceleration. Tesla says that even the base Model X can sprint from zero to 60 mph in 3.8 seconds, and the Plaid performance version cuts that time to just 2.5 seconds. Even if BMW releases a high-output X8 M, it likely won't outrun a top-spec Model X in a drag race.
The Model X might not be a slam dunk if you're hesitant about making the plunge into the world of fully electric vehicles. For one, it's not the most practical SUV out there because its gullwing-style rear doors can be slow to open or problematic in low-ceiling garages or parking structures. Towing with a Model X isn't such a good idea either. Oh, and new Model Xs have Tesla's new steering yoke instead of a steering wheel, which might present a serious learning curve for new owners.
Remember how we said that neither Mercedes nor Audi produces a vehicle that directly rivals the X8? We still stand by that, though Mercedes does technically produce a two-row version of its range-topping GLS (an X7 competitor). However, Mercedes sells it under the ultra-luxe Maybach imprint, making it far more expensive and elite than the X8's projected price point. The Maybach GLS also has a traditional upright roofline rather than the sleek one that differentiates the X8 from the X7.
With the disclaimers out of the way, the Mercedes-Maybach GLS is an exceptional machine. It is quite spacious, as you'd expect of a full-size luxury SUV with only two rows of seats. Interior craftsmanship is beyond reproach, with high-quality materials that are only slightly less impressive than what you'd find in a Bentley or Rolls-Royce. As expected, the ride is glassy smooth yet the body doesn't feel disconnected from the road. And while you wouldn't necessarily want to hustle it up mountain roads at high speeds, there's a lot of electronic wizardry that helps the GLS corner far better than it has a right to.
The case against the Mercedes-Maybach GLS mostly focuses on its prodigious price, which starts at $161,550. We also expect the X8 to feel a little more sporty than the GLS, though we won't know for sure until we get behind the wheel of BMW's new ultra SUV for ourselves.
The upcoming BMW X8 doesn't have too many direct rivals, as evidenced by our best attempt to categorize it here. But if history is any guide, a successful launch of the X8 will have Mercedes-Benz (and possibly Audi) quickly following up with their own large luxury SUVs with tapered rooflines.