BMW’s flagship grand tourer coupe is finally back, after almost three decades. Like Toyota Supra, or Nissan Skyline, it reminds us 90s as 8 series was first introduced in 1990 and it was one of the legendary cars most millennials will still remember. Unfortunately, first generation 8 series were discontinued in 1999 due to poor sales. However, it seems BMW decided to resurrect it, and reintroduced the 8 series last year. The question is, is the second generation of 8 series going to be successful? Let’s find it out.
Exterior and Interior
As usual, BMW 8 series carries lots of design elements from the other BMW’s. It looks elegant, but sporty, a great blend of both styles. We wish it had some similarities with the first generation 8 series, but it looks more like an inflated version of 6 series. This is one of the most important flaws. As a Gran Tourer, it definitely looks big but only people who are into BMWs will see the differences compared to 6-Series. Other than that, it looks beautiful from the outside, especially LED taillights and Laser headlights look really attractive and we should not complain about that.
When we first got into the interior, we see that it also carries lots of parts and design styling from the other BMWs. It may be a deal-breaker for people who are willing to spend almost $150.000 to see exactly the same steering wheel, gauges, screen, console buttons from the 3-Series. That doesn’t mean it is bad, overall interior quality is impressive, we just thought it would be better if the 8 series had more unique design and parts specifically used for 8 series so that the owners would have felt they are actually driving an 8 series when driving it.
Unfortunately, that feeling is really limited when you sit inside 8 series, regardless of the materials used in the interior. Like the newest BMWs, it offers driver-focused dashboard. However, rear-seat space is where you feel that you are driving a coupe, as it is extremely limited. BMW introduced this car as a four-seater but adults may not be comfortable in the back seat.
Our tester is a cabriolet, which is a fun-to-drive car in the summer. However, it is a soft-top, so it has a significant disadvantage, which is a road & tire noise when the top is up, especially on the highway. To be honest, it has little to no wind noise, which is quite impressive for a soft top, but it is not refined as a hardtop. We wish as a Gran Tourer, a hard-top option was available. Although it would have been even heavier, it would be more appropriate for the 8-Series.
Engine and Drivetrain
This is where you start to feel you are driving a Gran Tourer, but definitely not a sports car. BMW M850i comes with twin-turbocharged 4.4 Liter V8 which produces 523 horsepower and 553 lb-ft of torque. This masterpiece is also matched with BMW’s 8 Speed torque-converted automatic transmission. There is torque everywhere in the rpm range, and despite having more than 2 tonnes (4600 pounds) of weight, it is able to do 0-60 in less than 4 seconds. This drivetrain is so good, it would have been a hypercar level of performance if it was lighter, so the biggest hit for this platform is the additional weight as a cabriolet car.
Of course, the xDrive system contributes a lot to achieve 0-60 less than 4 seconds even with the Cabriolet version. This is one of our favorite all-wheel-drive systems, as it is rear-biased – almost like rear-wheel drive when tight maneuvering. When going straight, there is no rear wheel spinning and the car immediately distributes power to the front.
As always, BMW tuned the suspension extremely well on the M850i for public roads. There are few different driving options, but even in Sport+ mode, the suspension stiffness isn’t that hard, totally manageable and drivable daily. However, the tune delta of suspension between Comfort and Sport+ is not that wide. In fact, most of the time, we kept it in Sport+ mode to get the most out of overall performance during our test. Unfortunately, you shouldn’t expect to have good fuel economy when having twin-turbo V8 and over 4600 lbs of weight, it is hard to go lower than 11.0L / 100km even driving conservatively on the highway. If you drive like you stole it, it is not that hard to see more than 20.0L / 100 km.
Overall driving impressions & features
This is the hardest part to explain. BMW tried to put everything in this car and that’s why this is a weird combo. It is a grand tourer, cabriolet, sports car, all-wheel drive at the same time. That’s why it is hard to say it is a true grand tourer or sports car. The car doesn’t feel nimble at all, definitely not a corner carver but extremely capable with the xDrive system. In comfort mode, it feels like you are driving 5 or 7 Series, super light steering, soft suspension, and smooth torque curve. However, even with the M badge, it cannot be a sports car as the 8-Series belongs to the highways, not a race track. It is big, heavy and not as agile as a Porsche 911.
Feature-wise, it is not really different than other BMWs, except being a cabriolet. It comes with almost all features available for 5-7 Series. We are impressed with Bowers & Wilkins Premium Sound System which comes with an active 12-Channel amplifier with an output of whopping 1.375 watts. This is one of the best factory sound systems we have ever tried. Of course, all good things come with a hefty price, it costs $4.900 CAD extra to get this as an option. Other than that, the infotainment system is the latest edition, and much more user-friendly than the previous one. As always, latest digital cluster is excellent, easy to read, but not unique to the 8-Series.
Pricing and Conclusion
BMW 8 series starts at $123.500 CAD and if you opt for the Cabriolet, it goes up to $131.500. Our tester has almost everything with the Executive Package, which is $4.500 extra. With all options, it costs $143.200 before taxes. It is definitely not bargains but considering it is capable to do everything well, and what it can offer to its owners, we would recommend buying it if you have the budget. However, if you are looking for a unique character and more nimble options, you should look elsewhere. Unless you are die-hard cabriolet fan, we would opt out for it to save some weight and money. Keep in mind, there are also M8 and 8-Series Gran Coupe versions coming soon, we assume price is going to be higher than our tester.
Some of our takeaways are:
+ Great driving comfort
+ Overall interior quality
+ Excellent drivetrain and performance
Things need to be improved:
– No Android Auto and Apple CarPlay is not free
– Hardtop option must be available for refined driving experience
– Despite being great in most parts, it lacks character
– Base MSRP is higher than the competitors
For the most up-to-date and more detailed information, please visit: http://www.bmw.ca
Article and Photos by Dan Gunay