Next year, BMW will revive the iconic 8 Series and the company has already previewed its design with a concept car. One of the most misunderstood of the “almost an M car” has to be the BMW 850CSi. Lots of debate circle around to this day whether BMW should have called the E31 850CSi an M8 or not.
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As a top-of-the-range sports tourer, the 850CSi took over from the prototype M8. The 850CSi used the same engine as the 850i, which was tuned so significantly that BMW assigned it a new engine code: S70B56. The modifications included a capacity increase to 5.6 liters and power increase to 380 PS (279 kW; 375 hp). The engine can be identified by the “Powered by M” inscription on the central cam cover between the two banks of cylinders.
The 850CSi’s modified suspension included stiffer springs and dampers and reduced the car’s ride height. The recirculating ball steering ratio was dropped 15% over the stock E31 setup. The 850Si also sported wider wheels, with the option of forged M Parallel wheels. The front and rear bumpers were reshaped for improved aerodynamic performance. Four round stainless steel exhaust tips replaced the square tips found on other models. The 6-speed manual gearbox was the only transmission option. In Europe all 850CSi’s came with four-wheel steering (AHK – Aktive Hinterachs-Kinematik).
Production ended in late 1996 because the S70 engine could not be modified to comply with new emission regulations without substantial re-engineering.
One of those fine 850CSi models went to Romania last week and spent some time through the curvy roads of the Transfagarasan Road, a bucket list driving road according to Top Gear. The Transfăgărășan (trans (over, across) + Făgăraș) or DN7C is the second-highest paved road in Romania. Also known as Ceaușescu’s Folly, it was built as a strategic military route, the 90 km of twists and turns run north to south across the tallest sections of the Southern Carpathians, between the highest peak in the country, Moldoveanu, and the second highest, Negoiu. The road connects the historic regions of Transylvania and Wallachia, and the cities of Sibiu and Pitești.
In September 2009 the cast and crew of the British television show Top Gear were seen filming along the road. The segment appeared in the first episode of Series 14 which first aired November 15, 2009. They were in the country on a grand tour with an Aston Martin DBS V12 Volante, Ferrari California and a Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 Spyder. Host Jeremy Clarkson went on to declare the Transfăgărășan as “the best road in the world” – a title that the presenters previously gave to the Stelvio Pass in Italy.