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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

Most Popular

Driving test update to preserve the manual gearbox
Dacia Duster gear lever
News

Driving test update to preserve the manual gearbox

With more drivers learning in autos and electric cars, the DVSA is looking to update the driving test so people can still drive manuals in future
16 Jun 2021
Illegal car modification hotspots revealed
Volkswagen Polo exhaust
News

Illegal car modification hotspots revealed

Gloucestershire has the highest proportion of illegal car modifications, with altered number plates the most common breach
14 Jun 2021
New Vauxhall Astra prototype review
Vauxhall Astra prototype - front
Vauxhall Astra

New Vauxhall Astra prototype review

A new Vauxhall Astra is on the way and we've driven a prototype ahead of its official arrival
14 Jun 2021
Ineos Grenadier prototype 2022 review
Ineos Grenadier prototype
Ineos Grenadier 4x4

Ineos Grenadier prototype 2022 review

Can the Ineos Grenadier really fill the mud-splattered void left by the old Land Rover Defender? We take a first drive in a prototype to find out...
15 Jun 2021
‘Our switch to electric will soon make driving manual cars a lost art'
Gearknob
Opinion

‘Our switch to electric will soon make driving manual cars a lost art'

Want to drive a manual car? You need to take your test in a manual car. So what happens once all driving-school cars are automatic EVs?
8 Jun 2021
UN report highlights ethical problems with electric cars
Electric car charging
News

UN report highlights ethical problems with electric cars

Analysis reveals lithium refining takes 65 per cent of Chilean region’s water, while 40,000 child miners dig for cobalt in DRC
14 Jun 2021
New Renault Arkana 2021 review
Renault Arkana - front
Renault Arkana

New Renault Arkana 2021 review

Does an eye-catching coupe-SUV body give the new Renault Arkana the edge over other mid-size SUVs? We find out...
16 Jun 2021
New Nissan Qashqai production begins in Sunderland
Nissan Qashqai - front static
News

New Nissan Qashqai production begins in Sunderland

Nissan will offer every school child in the North East of England a place on the Nissan Skills Foundation course to mark 35 years of manufacturing in …
14 Jun 2021
New SsangYong Korando e-Motion breaks cover with electric power
SsangYong Korando EV
Electric cars

New SsangYong Korando e-Motion breaks cover with electric power

The new SsangYong Korando compact electric SUV will be on sale later in 2021, says the financially stricken South Korean manufacturer
15 Jun 2021
'The hydrogen underdog disruptor is back in town'
Toyota Mirai opinion
Opinion

'The hydrogen underdog disruptor is back in town'

Mike Rutherford says hydrogen-powered cars could still be a frequent sight on UK roads
13 Jun 2021
New Porsche 911 GT3 Touring tones down the styling
Porsche 911 GT3 Touring - front
Porsche 911

New Porsche 911 GT3 Touring tones down the styling

The optional Touring package aims to bring a few creature comforts to the track-focused Porsche 911 GT3
15 Jun 2021
SsangYong J100 to get tough in the electric SUV sector
SsangYong J100 electric SUV
SsangYong

SsangYong J100 to get tough in the electric SUV sector

The tough looking electric mid-size SUV is slated for production next year and will be joined by a pick-up model
15 Jun 2021
New hydrogen-powered Land Rover Defender prototype in development
Land Rover Defender
Land Rover Defender

New hydrogen-powered Land Rover Defender prototype in development

The Land Rover Defender FCEV prototype will be assessed for off-road and long-range zero-emission motoring
14 Jun 2021