BMW 8 Series review
Muscle car performance and proportions give BMW’s 8 Series old-school appeal, but it’s packed with the latest technology
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 4x4 drivetrain with a punchy diesel and a devastatingly quick V8 petrol in the M850i, while a big boot makes the coupe a genuinely practical grand tourer, if you accept that the confined rear seats are only for occasional use. Otherwise the four-door Gran Coupe variant effectively addresses any accommodation problems.
About the BMW 8 Series
The BMW 8 Series is offered as a two-door Coupe, a four-door Gran Coupe version with an extended wheelbase and a Convertible that sits at the top of the company’s line-up, but features none of the environmentally-conscious hybrid tech that was offered with the BMW i8 or the EV tech of the BMW iX SUV. Instead, the machine which replaced 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 three available versions of each body style: the 840i sDrive with 335bhp, the 316bhp 3.0-litre diesel 840d xDrive and the M850i xDrive, with a 4.4-litre twin-turbo engine offering well in excess of 500bhp. For those wanting to crank up the performance there are 616bhp M Competition models, again offered in Coupe, Gran Coupe or Convertible form.
Car group tests
Once you’ve chosen a body style and engine, BMW makes life relatively simple because there are no trim grade options beyond those imposed by your engine choice. The 840i and 840d models come only in M Sport guise, while the M850i versions are effectively a model in their own right.
Naturally equipment levels are lavish even on M Sport cars, but BMW will try to upsell you into a range of expensive add-on packages. These include the Visibility Pack for laser headlamp upgrades, the M Sport Pro pack for 20-inch alloy wheels and dark chrome exterior finishes, the Comfort Plus Pack for features including heated armrests, ventilated seats and electric window blinds, and the Technology Pack which includes a 1,400 Watt Bowers & Wilkins sound system, a full package of active driver assistance features, on-board video recording and Parking Assistant Plus.
The £19,000 Ultimate Pack includes all of the above, plus additional features such as a TV receiver and a carbon roof - as long as you haven’t already selected the optional panoramic glass roof.
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. With list prices starting from around £73,000 for the cheapest Gran Coupe four-door to almost £134,000 for the M8 Competition convertible, the roster of potential competitors includes the sportiest of rivals such as the Porsche 911, along with more relaxed offerings like the Lexus LC and Mercedes S-Class Coupe.
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 larger BMW X7 SUV, while those wanting sporty 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 sporty, and it’s perhaps surprising that BMW has taken so long to produce a follow-up.
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In this review
- 1Verdict - currently readingMuscle car performance and proportions give BMW’s 8 Series old-school appeal, but it’s packed with the latest technology
- 2Engines, performance and driveA luxurious cruiser that never lets you forget its weight, but is impressively rapid in M guise
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsBMW 8 Series running costs are par for the course, but high enough to make most drivers wince
- 4Interior, design and technologyIt looks brutish and aggressive on the outside, but the design wraps a technological tour-de-force
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceThe 8 Series has a large boot, but if you prioritise practicality then you'll need the four-door Gran Coupe model
- 6Reliability and SafetyThere’s no shortage of safety technology, but our surveys show BMW satisfaction ratings are down