The BMW 8-series was first released back in 1990 as a big grand touring coupé with a romping V12 engine.
It was a unique offering with advanced technology at the time. The 8-series was discontinued in 1999 due to slow sales, and after a 19 year hiatus, BMW has decided to bring it back as a flagship coupe in 2018. The flagship model was lacking an all-out M model until now. The M8 and M8 Competition have finally arrived as the pinnacle of the line, along with this 2020 BMW M8 Gran Coupe Competition.
Stunning is the first word that comes to mind when you first lay sight on this tester dressed in beautiful British Racing Green, a classic colour which requires a car with presence to carry it properly. The M8 has that in spades. The long silhouette with sweeping lines and flanking shoulders reminds you of a gentleman in a tailored suit. From the rear three-quarter view you can appreciate the sculpted shoulders and flowing roof sweeping down into a short deck lid accented with a carbon lip spoiler.
An aggressive rear valence accenting quad exhaust tips highlights the width of the Gran Coupe that is 38mm wider than the coupe. From the front, the kidney grills are stretched wide; the front bumper vents are more angular and bigger to flow more air for better cooling and aerodynamics. The laser front headlights give the M8 a lot of aggression. From all angles, the M8 Gran Coupe oozes presence. You can tell this athlete has been pumping iron even under the fitted suit.
Why a Gran Coupe? To share the experience with your friends and family. The added length and width all translate to interior space and comfort. The four-door variant of the M8 has usable rear seats for your passengers to join on the drive in comfort, with full control of their own climate zone as well. Our M8 is equipped with the BMW Individual Manufaktur Package, adding ventilated seats and Bowers and Wilkins Diamond surround sound system elevating the already impressive interior experience.
The M8 comes standard with Taruma Brown Full Merino leather. Diamond stitching on the door panels and seats elevate the interior to next level luxury compared to other BMW models. The brown is contrasted with black leather on the upper portions of the dash, steering and center console. Brushed aluminum and carbon fiber add details and bling to the already upscale interior, and seat comfort is incredible with an excellent driving position. The M8 is the ultimate combination of luxury and high performance feel.
For the driver to stay in control and connected, the M8 has BMW’s Live Cockpit Professional with iDrive 7 infotainment. It features a high resolution 12.3-inch instrument cluster that can switch between the standard display and the M display. With this, the tachometer changes to a racing style rev counter. Customizable displays are available for G meter, power and torque meters. In the middle is a 10.2-inch center display with touch interface. BMW’s iDrive7 improves this interface with haptic controls on the iDrive controller as well as voice and gesture control. The M8 has the most advanced tech BMW has to offer.
The M8’s handling is as athletic as it looks. BMW has done an excellent job in blending the track capability and daily needs. Being an M model, the ride is tuned towards the stiffer spectrum; however it has sufficient comfort to handle long road trips with ease. The large foot print of the M8 does mean it drives large, but the weight of the car is well controlled and hidden. The long wheelbase also means it is extremely compliant and linear in its handling characteristics. This excellent blend of M driving dynamics and touring capabilities is thanks to a slew of technology BMW used.
This tech includes the Adaptive M suspension that reads road conditions and adjusts accordingly. BMW allows the driver to set various driving parameters for drivers to dial in their personalized settings. The engine, suspension, steering, braking and all-wheel-drive system can all be individually adjusted for various levels of aggression. The xDrive system on the M8 can be converted to rear-drive only adding to the excitement and agility. Unique to the M8 Competition is a Track mode which further stiffens up and turns driving sensations to 110%. Steering feel on the M8 is accurate and responsive with natural weighting in all modes, but lacking in feedback.
To help manage the weight of the M8, a beautiful carbon roof is used to lower the center of gravity. The Competition model tested has higher levels of shock dampening to help with body control and keep the M8 flat through corners. The brakes are another reason why the car drives lighter than it is. It has massive 395mm discs up front and 380mm discs in the back, and a massive six-piston caliper up front. This is combined with a set of 285/35/20 tires to maximize grip and handling limits to near super car levels.
An M differential splits torque between the two rear wheels for maximum propulsion in all conditions. With the option between 4WD, 4WD Sport and RWD mode, the driver can tailor the level of insanity and agility you want from the M8. Like all M products, the M division pulls out all the stops on the Competition model to ensure ultimate driving pleasure and exceptional performance.
The show stopper of the M8 is its powerplant. It has a 4.4 liter TwinPower turbocharged V8 codenamed “S63”, producing 617 horsepower at 6,000RPM and 553 lb-ft. of torque from 1,800 to 5,860RPM. The power delivery can only be described as relentless, sending the M8 from a dig to 100km/h in 3.2 seconds. Power is produced all the way up to redline at 7,200RPM, however never feeling like the engine runs out of breath. It goes without saying, highway cruising and overtaking is effortless. There is so much power under your foot that it becomes addictive to give the throttle a squeeze at every opportunity.
Turbocharger lag is kept to a minimum, and is virtually unnoticeable. The M eight-speed Steptronic transmission helps to extract every ounce of horsepower from the power plant whenever you need. Shifts are lightning quick on both up and down shifts. Leaving it in Auto mode feels almost telepathic with the ability to choose between 3 levels of transmission tuning. The M8 has a dedicated exhaust button which opens and closes the valves in the exhaust. The sound of the V8 is no naturally aspirated symphony, but its menacing enough to send chills through your spine every time it’s let free. The transmission snaps on upshifts and burbles on downshifts constantly remind you are taming a beast.
Despite such insane power output, BMW is able to engineer reasonable efficiency into this powerplant. Fuel consumption is rated at 16.0L/100km city and 11.0L/100km highway for a combined 14.0L/100km. This numbers are not Prius-level, but they are absolutely acceptable considering the performance this car offers. If I was not required to keep track of my average consumption throughout this test drive, I would not have noticed the average of 14.5L/100km during our test week.
The M8 Competition has a base price of $161,000, and our tester came in at $175,000. There was only one option packaged added at $14,000 which fully loads the M8. There are many interesting rivals at this price point, most notably the Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S (reviewed here). A less direct competitor would be the Porsche Panamera 4S, and the M8 has much more road presence than the Porsche. The Porsche is also a performer, but the level of fun, luxury and presence in the M8 is unmatched.
Regardless with what you choose at its price range, the 2020 BMW M8 Gran Coupe Competition is an excellent machine. The level of engineering that has been put in to this platform to make sure this big cruiser lives up to the M badge cannot be ignored. Despite its large foot print, the M8 has incredible performance as well as a stunning design. The M8 competition is definitely a gentlemen’s race car, which will eventually be an icon of our era.