It’s been sometime since we last saw a BMW 8 Series. 20 years ago, the E31 8 Series was the real hero of the BMW range with its pop-up headlights, V8 and V12 engines. Its reign lasted 10 years from 1989 to 1999, but now in 2019 the M850i Coupe and Convertible have returned. Chris Bowen attended the local launch.
What is it?
Before I go on, let me just say this – Wow. I mean this is one hell of a beast and nothing like I’ve ever driven from the BMW stable. The M850i is a classic sports car or grand tourer while being loaded with new age tech.
Both the coupe and convertible have a thumping V8 under the very long, low nose. Take a look at this thing. I think it’s absolutely stunning, those headlights are the thinnest ever produced by BMW. They feature laser light technology that can light up the road at least 500 metres ahead when on high beam.
The seating configuration is 2+2 but honestly, you’d struggle to fit anyone but small children back there. The carbon fibre roof has a nice double bubble design and that rear end is equally dramatic as is the rest of the broad and muscular body. In terms of GT cars that BMW has produced, this would have to sit at the pinnacle.
Behind the wheel
It took me no less than 20 seconds after jumping into this car to have a ‘holy cow’ moment. Mind you I’d just jumped out of the new Z4. I firstly tried the coupe version, instantly a sensation of commanding authority sweeps over your body.
This hefty beast is one hell of a weapon. The near one-inch thick steering wheel is just a teaser of what’s to come. The finest Merino leather covers the seats, the gear lever is hand crafted with a glass effect. The number 8 bounces around the shifter when viewed from different angles, due to cleverly designed and angled reflective surfaces.
But this is a car that truly is born for the track but equally at home through the rolling hills and curves found in central Victoria. The car has bank vault-like build quality and with a couple of people on board weighs around two-tonne. Despite this, it has an agility that is astounding.
BMW’s all-wheel drive xDrive system has been deployed on the M850i along with a M sport differential mounted on the rear axle. The suspension is adaptive along with a four-wheel steering system. It’s possible to have the rear steering angle to turn up to 2.5 degrees at speeds nearing 72km/h.
The brakes are enormous with the front discs measuring 395mm. When all this comes to together, I found the M850i to be one of the most potent and capable cars I’ve ever driven. The coupe is actually the 2nd fastest production BMW to 100km/h, only the M5 with the Competition pack betters its 3.7-second dash, the convertible does it in 3.9-seconds.
The grip levels are enormous, and the soundtrack is equally as impressive, although it doesn’t completely loose its shit. The bark out the back remains deep and powerful; I wouldn’t say it’s restrained but more proud rather than loud.
Tackling wet roads during heavy downpours was ridiculously easy, I just can’t wait to rip up a dry surface. Honestly, it’s just mind blowing.
The BMW M850i is fitted with a 4.4-litre twin-turbocharged petrol V8. It generates a very substantial 390kW / 750Nm. Power is sent through the latest generation Steptronic Sport automatic eight-speed transmission. It’s a clever box with ‘ConnectedShift’ technology that uses mapping data to anticipate the road ahead, ensuring you’re always in the right gear.
The BMW Live Cockpit Professional is featured in the new BMW 8 Series. A high-res 12.3-inch instrument cluster sits behind the steering wheel while the 10.25 touchscreen infotainment display sits front and centre.
BMW’s Live Cockpit includes adaptive navigation, a 20gb hard drive, two USB ports and wireless charging. The 7.0 operating system allows for a high level of connectivity via the ConnectedDrive system.
But as with the Z4, Apple CarPlay is $179.00 for 12 months, $470.00 for three years and $639.00 for a lifetime plan.
BMW also offers a digital key that uses Near Field Communication (NFC), just like what’s found in some smartphones. Compatible smartphones (the iPhone not being one) can be used to lock and unlock the car without the need for a key fob. You simply hold the phone to the door handle just like you would for a tap and go payment.
The engine can then be started as soon as the phone is placed in the wireless charging zone. For those with iPhones, BMW also offers a digital NFC card to replicate the same process.
The M850i XDrive Coupe and M850i xDrive Convertible are priced before on-roads at $272,900 and $281,900 respectively. Obviously, this is huge money, even for a BMW. It makes me wonder will people jump ship from the likes of a Porsche 911, Aston Martin DB11 or even a Bentley Continental.
As you’d expect there are options. Paint upgrades can extend to $10,400 for a Pure Metal Silver finish. There are also upholstery upgrades that vary from $6,700 to $8,900. Sun protection glazing is available for $1000 on the coupe only. If you want a TV, add $2,300. What about a nightclub on wheels? Well the 16-speaker Bowers & Wilkins Diamond Surround Sound System with 10-channel 1400W amplifier should do the job, at $8,200 for the coupe and $6,900 for the drop top.
A M Carbon package will add even more pain at $7,500 or $6,600 for the convertible. Fuel economy is rated at 10.4L/100km for the coupe and 10.6L/100km for the heavier convertible. I’d suggest my personal figure would be way north of that.
Why would you buy one?
Because you’re filthy rich, yet sophisticated, distinguished and somewhat selfish. Anyone that spends this amount of coin on a four-seater GT car that really is a two-seater has to be a tad self-centred right?
As I mentioned at the start, this is a holy cow (Trust me I’d like to use a stronger term) type of car. It’s a sensation in just about every area, from design to performance. Possibly at this stage the mother of all BMW’s. It’s a 9.1 out of 10 for me.