The BMW 8 Series is a sleek range flagship designed to fill a gap between luxury grand touring and sports coupes
The BMW 8 Series is an interesting mix of swoopy, eye-catching style, unabashed luxury and sporting promise. It’s a package that fits somewhere between the extreme refinement of the Mercedes S-Class Coupe and the sporty driving thrills of the AMG GT. It’s not quite as refined as the former, or as sharp as the latter, but as an all-rounder, it’s an impressive machine.
There’s been some criticism of the styling, which looks fussy from some angles, but there’s no doubt the interior is beautifully finished and impressively specced, with the latest version of BMW’s iDrive infotainment system. There’s a 4×4 drivetrain with a punchy diesel and a devastatingly quick V8 petrol in the M850i, while a big boot makes this a genuinely practical grand tourer, if you accept that the confined rear seats are only for occasional use.
The BMW 8 Series is offered as a two-door coupe and convertible that sits at the top of the company’s line-up, but features none of the environmentally-conscious hybrid tech of the BMW i8. Instead the replacement for the 6 Series relies on the old-school ‘muscle car’ approach, with beefy petrol and diesel engines offering extravagant amounts of power and torque.
There are two coupe models currently available, and the poster car is the M850i xDrive, with a 4.4-litre twin-turbo engine offering well in excess of 500bhp. Interestingly, in these anti-diesel times, the only other alternative is the 3.0-litre 840d xDrive, although doubtless other engines will join the range in time. The convertible uses the same engines and was launched late in 2018 at the Frankfurt Motor Show. We’re also promised a four-door ‘coupe saloon’, which will go head-to-head with the Mercedes-AMG GT 4-door Coupe. Both versions of the 8 Series currently available come as standard with xDrive four-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic transmission.
While the BMW 8 Series offers a distinct blend of comfort and sportiness that sets it apart, it enters a market that’s not short of rivals when it comes to expensive GT models. The roster of potential competitors includes sportier machines like the Mercedes-AMG GT, Audi R8 and Porsche 911, as well as luxurious and exclusive offerings like the Aston Martin Vantage and Bentley Continental GT. And then there are cars like the Lexus LC and Mercedes S-Class Coupe, which fall somewhere in between.
Inside BMW’s own range there’s not much that comes close, although as you’d expect the latest BMW 7 Series saloon is the source of much of the 8 Series’ technology. Buyers looking for ultimate luxury might consider the forthcoming X7 SUV, while those wanting sporting thrills will arguably be better satisfied behind the wheel of a BMW M4 or M5.
This isn’t the first time BMW has rolled out the 8 Series badge of course, and many enthusiasts will have fond memories of the late 1990s variant. That too was a big, excitingly styled coupe offering impressive performance without being excessively sporting, and it’s perhaps surprising that BMW has taken so long to produce a follow-up.
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