The last BMW 8 Series was 20 years ago, back then it had pop-up headlights, 8 or even 12 cylinders and frankly looked evil. Fast forward to the local launch this year where I placed my bum in both the new M850i Coupe and Convertible and a legend has been reborn. Now I’ve spent a whole week in the droptop version, letting my hair flow freely and generally enjoying Sydney’s air quality, that’s been worse than Jakarta at times. Let’s take a look at one of the ultimate garage toys.
WHAT IS IT?
There’s nothing like this car in the whole BMW stable, in fact I actually don’t know where it fits in terms of any category, especially when it comes to price. The car is enormous, being 4,843mm long, for perspective a Toyota Land Cruiser hits 4950mm. It weighs 2090kg and has a nose that looks longer than some hatchbacks.
Up front is an M Performance V8, all-wheel drive and four-wheel steering. I guess it’s the kind of purchase you’d drop $281,900 on if your hobbies don’t extent to owning a small Cessna, boat or collecting expensive art.
BEHIND THE WHEEL
The car is simply a weapon, if it wasn’t for the added weight it would be the 2nd quickest BMW ever made. The BMW M5 Competition has that crown, the coupe comes in at second while the Convertible and upcoming four-door Gran Coupe tie for third with a 3.9 second dash to 100km/h.
The first thing you generally do in a convertible is take the roof off, I’m now over my previous insecurities about being that “wanker”. In fact, someone called me a “cock head” in Sydney’s Eastern Distributer from the open window of his 1998 Hyundai Excel. You rich people really have to put up with a lot.
This engine, under speeds of 40km/h, sounds like a kid who can’t play the drums. Especially when you place it in Sports Plus mode and deliberately lift on and off the throttle, in a tunnel. If you had 10 of these in the Lane Cove Tunnel, someone would call the riot squad or even a higher authority. It cracks and pops like mini snaps of lightning, the undertone is of heavy base and is capable of mimicking a V8 supercar soundtrack.
But kind of sadly, all of this bluff and bluster disappears after 60km/h. With the 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 resuming normal programming.
The interior is broad and obviously wide, with the latest BMW digital instrument cluster. On a cold day there’s little to worry about with a heated ‘air-collar’, heated seats, arm rests and steering wheel.
Driving this beast is simple, because dynamically is handles like something much smaller. In fact, the agility is astounding. There does come a point where you can’t defy physics but thanks to the xDrive all-wheel drive system plus all-wheel steering it’s like a heavyweight that moves like a lightweight.
On the steering, some people often ask me about that. Basically, it’s possible to have the rear wheels turn up to 2.5 degrees at speeds nearing 72km/h.
Despite enormous size the 4+4 seating configuration is largely useless, there’s no way I’d sit back there any longer than 30 minutes.
Check out all the details about this 390kW /700Nm 4.4-litre twin-turbocharged V8 in our ‘In The EFTM Garage’ piece.
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 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.
Wireless Apple CarPlay is $179.00 for 12 months, $470.00 for three years and $639.00 for a lifetime plan.
There’s also wireless phone charging, Parking Assistant Plus, including 3D View and Reverse Assistant, Soft Close Doors, the slimmest Laser lights BMW has made, merino leather, a 16-speaker HARMON KARDON sound system, Gesture Control and a Head-Up Display.
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 M850i xDrive Convertible is priced at $281,900, huge coin for a BMW. 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?
I don’t have a mind that can comprehend why.
I gave the coupe a 9.1, I’ll give the convertible an 8.9. Because I think it looks better with a roof.