The new BMW 8 Series has been universally well received. Most reviewers cite the tight handling provided by the optional four-wheel steering, the effortless power provided by the turbocharged six or eight-cylinder engine, the luxurious interior appointments, and the smooth shifts provided by the eight speed ZF transmission.
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But the top of the line 8 Series is of course, the BMW M8 coupe. Powered by the twin-turbocharged V8 engine producing 600 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque, the M8 coupe will accelerate to 60 from a standstill in just 3.1 seconds – less with the optional Competition package, adding 17 hp and knocking that 0-60 time down by a tenth of a second.
Much More Than Just Sheer Power
But power isn’t everything if the car can’t put it to the ground. Fortunately, that’s not really an issue for the M8 because of its intelligent M xDrive AWD system. Providing power to the rear wheels until they bend to the thirsty 4.4L V8’s will, the system then smartly redirects power to the front two wheels as well.
What this translates to is a fast, four-wheel launch every time, leaving similar-powered rear-wheel drive cars in the dust – just ask the last generation M5 or M6. Of course, the xDrive system also provides increased traction and easier handling management through corners.
With the system borrowed from the current generation M5, the BMW M8 Coupe takes configurability to a completely new level. Using the iDrive system and a variety of trick technologies, you can configure almost every possible aspect of the driving experience – including brake pedal feel, exhaust volume, steering feedback, and traction control.
The new M virtual cockpit, a first for any M (or indeed, BMW) car, provides new information in a very simple and easy to read layout – such as lateral Gs (cornering force), tire pressures, and engine oil temperature. You can even turn off all the electronic nannies in the “Track” mode.
A Luxurious Cabin
Of course, none of these performance-based additions compromises the unparalleled level of luxury the cabin offers. The quilted leather seats are heated and cooled, as well as the cup holders and armrest. Tons of technology is packed into the M8 as well, including things like Apple Car Play, satellite radio, onboard navigation system, and a full color heads up display. Voice commands come standard, too – with the clever “Hello BMW” system, the nearest Starbucks is only a spoken sentence away.
The Driving Experience Doesn’t Disappoint
Driving the BMW M8 Coupe is an experience that can’t be quantified. It’s so fast you think that you might mistake it for a Tesla; but the pulsing, throaty V8 soothingly reminds you that you are indeed still in an internal combustion engine. Coming from the M850i, which never exactly lusted for power (rated at 523hp), the change was still jarring – maybe it’s the trick M suspension doing its thing, maybe it’s the placebo effect of a crispy chrome M badge on the trunk, or maybe it’s Maybelline.
Who can tell? All I can say is that the ten mile route it took to warm the car up was some of the most fun I’ve ever had in a vehicle at this weight class. It’s heavy – at 4300ish pounds, depending on options – but it never feels like that.
Your privileged author had the enjoyable experience of driving many M5 Competitions on the Circuit of the Americas as part of a company training, and the M5s all felt the same way. Say what you want about BMW, but the suspension still defies physics when it comes to the M cars.
Oversteer is predictable, controllable, and responsive in Sport+ mode with DSC all the way off (the ratio is maybe a little overzealous, but that’s to be expected when dealing with EPS), although admittedly feels fairly numb in any other mode.
Verdict: absolutely fine, but if you’re planning on tracking your grand tourer you’ll probably opt for some track ready coilover suspension. Alternatively, invest in a drag radial setup and smoke literally everybody at your local quarter or eighth mile event.
This car is fast. Not quick, not kinda fast…fast. Italicized. We’re talking very low 11 second, maybe high 10 second quarter mile times here. Plus, the massaging seats are giving you the once over. Imagine looking over at the guy with the twin turbo Lexus LS sweating gallons as he disappears in the rear view, while your massaging seats and automatic climate control leave you, decidedly, high and dry.
Anyway, that guy lost. Use those winnings to invest in…you guessed it, coilovers. Time to win some autocross events.
Expensive, But Worth It If Money No Issue
But maybe I’m missing the point. The BMW M8 Coupe does everything well, and doesn’t particularly suck at anything, either – as a $130k car should. You can happily enjoy a forty or fifty mile road trip and not need a spinal adjustment afterwards, as is the case with some former M cars and many of the Porsche offerings at this price point – but also clip an apex at speeds that would leave Einstein wondering where he went wrong.
Maybe the joy in this car is that it really is the option that checks all the boxes – and with the BMW M8 Gran Coupe (read: 4 door, but it does its best to look like a coupe) right around the corner, maybe there really is a “cure all” for millionaires looking to track their only one car.
The BMW M8 coupe is a great choice for someone who needs a luxury grand touring car and track readiness, but does not want or need two cars. It’s also the perfect car for someone who wants to just go fast.