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BMW M8 Competition Gran Coupe 2020 review

The new BMW M8 Gran Coupe promises much, we find out if it can deliver

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

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Verdict

The M8 Competition Gran Coupe is very competent technically, but it doesn’t thrill you like an AMG saloon might, nor does it feel as precise as a Porsche Panamera. So it’s an in between car of sorts, but one that rides nicely, offers plenty of usability and lots of tech. It’s just that at this price lesser BMWs do much of that at a much more affordable price, too.

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The BMW M8 Competition Gran Coupe is the firm’s flagship performance car. The M Division has always been about fast saloon cars, and this is one of the fastest four doors out there.

In the UK it only comes in Competition spec, so the 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 makes a massive 616bhp and 750Nm of torque, which even in this 1,980kg car is enough to hurl it from 0-62mph in 3.2 seconds. That’s thanks to four-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic transmission with launch control.

Of course, as with the latest M5 Competition, you can decouple the front axle and make the M8 rear-drive only if you want, but this also disables the traction control. With a long wheelbase it does what big saloon cars from the M Division do best, with lots of control and balance, but to do that undersells the M8.

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Yes, it’s big and yes, it’s weighty, but there’s a surprising level of agility in the 4WD Sport mode.

It feels like a nicely balanced rear-wheel drive saloon, with the active rear differential helping to turn the car, right up until the moment where you need the extra traction of four-wheel drive, at which point the xDrive system steps up and neutralises the car, pulling it straight. On the road, it shows four-wheel drive can be fun.

Despite the weight the M8 is low, so it’s centre of gravity feels it too. There’s a great level of grip, but you wouldn’t know it through the artificial-feeling dead steering. The wheel rim is too thick, it’s too resistive to inputs with faux weight in the sportier settings, and it doesn’t offer as much feedback as some rivals’ systems.

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It’s frustrating, because every now and then the M8 offers a fleeting impulse of information up through its steering column as the fat front tyres get pulled by a camber or a rut, only the electric assistance seems to then immediately smother this message that’s being relayed back to the driver.

At least the traction and performance is stupendous, even if the engine emits a flat soundtrack compared with some rivals’ more traditional V8 burble. The M8 has more of a bark.

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The gearbox is a great auto but a little jerky in the fastest manual setting when changing up through the lower gears. However, with all that torque it’s not too surprising.

To control all of the car’s mass and the performance on offer the chassis is firm, but nicely damped – only quick bumps and hollows jolt through the cabin as the 20-inch alloy wheels thump up unyieldingly. In the sportier settings this is even worse, but most of the time in Comfort the ride is relatively controlled and just soft enough to offer enough of that quality, but you do get some roar from those big wheels and tyres.

Inside there’s lots of kit – everything you’d want, in fact – including a 12.3-inch digital dash panel, a 10.25-inch infotainment system that’s the best in the business, featuring nav and Apple CarPlay (but no Android Auto). There’s even a very good voice-controlled personal assistant that actually works.

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The cabin is covered in leather, you get parking sensors all round with a camera, cruise control, adaptive dampers, adaptive LED lights, four-zone climate control, a head-up display, connected services, keyless operation and plenty of other features you’d expect at this price.

But that is the problem. Costing £120,970 – or more than £142,000 with the options our test car had fitted to it, including the £21,000 Ultimate Pack, which adds vented front seats, carbon ceramic brakes, laser lights, an upgraded Bowers & Wilkins stereo, more safety and driver assistance tech and lots of carbon fibre extras – the M8 Competition Gran Coupe is competing with some very rarefied rivals.

These include brands like Porsche, with its Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid. When some of the BMW’s interior is lifted from cars like the 3 and 5 Series, at this price point it starts to feel expensive, even if it is well built and quality is sound.

At least there’s enough practicality, as despite the rakish roofline at the rear headroom isn’t too bad, even though it’s more limited than a 5 Series, say. You also get 440 litres of boot space, which is enough.

Model: BMW M8 Competition Gran Coupe 
Price: £120,970
Engine: 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 petrol
Power: 616bhp/750Nm
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
0-62mph: 3.2 seconds
Top speed:155mph
Economy/CO2:25.4mpg/254g/km
On sale: Now
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Sean’s been writing about cars since 2010, having worked for outlets as diverse as PistonHeads, MSN Cars, Which? Cars, Race Tech – a specialist motorsport publication – and most recently Auto Express and sister titles Carbuyer and DrivingElectric

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