TEST DRIVE: 2021 BMW 840i Gran Coupe – Luxury lifestyle

Our tester was wearing a special color, courtesy of the BMW Individual catalogue: Wild Berry

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It’s quite amazing what car makers are able to do these days and what they can offer to customers willing to pay for it. The BMW 8 Series nameplate is the perfect example of that, as it is offered in a variety of shapes while keeping its character intact. After unveiling the 8 Series Coupe, the German brand decided to do what it hasn’t done before and unveiled two more body styles: a Convertible and a Gran Coupe version. To say all of them are loved by the public is an understatement.

A Large and Luxurious Gran Tourer

Looking at the 8 Series Gran Coupe you wouldn’t really be able to tell just how big it is. The car manages to cleverly hide its size, despite being 5,082 mm long with a 3,023 mm wheelbase. That’s 231mm longer than the regular Coupe model. The Gran Coupe is also 30 mm wider and 61 mm taller. These figures make the 8 Series Gran Coupe the widest car in BMW’s line-up today.

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The 8 Series Gran Coupe has a lot of presence and it turns heads wherever you go. It’s one of those cars that really makes you feel special. And how could it not? It has all the trademark BMW design cues, from a massive (but not exaggerated) kidney grilles to the short overhangs and wide hips at the back, along with a very muscular rear end. Our tester was even more eye-catching as it was wearing a special color, courtesy of the BMW Individual catalogue: Wild Berry.

A Luxurious Interior Design

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A Classy Interior

The interior follows the same rulebook and it actually makes sense. Why change something if it works? And I know some people might be tempted to say the cabin of the 8 Series as a whole model range isn’t special enough but I disagree. There might be some design cues borrowed from the rest of the models in the BMW range today, sure, but it’s the details that make the difference in every premium car.

The inside of the 8 Series Gran Coupe looks absolutely beautiful and I love the way the screen is integrated into the top of the dashboard, that being the best attribute of the car. That’s because unlike in a lot of new models today, the screen’s size is decent and not over the top. And even with this modest size, it provides all the functionality you could need. You can easily see everything you could want on it, from navigation directions, to the media player and everything in between.

Furthermore, you get all of the info in the instrument cluster and/or head-up display too if you want it, so you’ll never miss anything important. The newest versions of the iDrive system also come with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay wirelessly, free of charge and integrated well into the car’s systems. So if you’re using Waze or Gmaps to get around, the driving instructions will pop up in the head up display too, making the infotainment screen redundant.

From then downwards you get a different design compared to any other BMW in the range today. The HVAC controls look similar, but the entire center console is connected to the dash via two side scuffs which, in this case, were highlighted by contrasting stitching. That stitching cut into the Merino leather this car had as an optional feature, fitted all over the impeccable fit and finish inside the cabin, from the dashboard, to the seats.

The roof lining was done in Alcantara and felt absolutely fantastic to the touch. The door panels also have a different design compared to any other BMW in the range today, and our tester also came with the brilliant, optional Bowers & Wilkins sound system that’s worth every penny. It may seem expensive at first but not only does it come with a near-perfect sound but it also brings a set of very beautiful aluminum set of speaker covers featuring a beautiful set of ambient lights beneath and a perfectly cut Fibonacci spiral motif on top.

Marvelous!

To top everything off, the seats are also 8 Series-specific, with a special design and feel to them. They are comfortable and yet supportive, in a rather specific way, something that immediately says: you’re seating in an 8er. They look brilliant too, with the headrest integrated in the seat and you can’t really ask for more. Get the Crafted Clarity optional package too and you’ll notice that the gearshift lever turns into a crystal as do some other bits around it. This way, whatever you touch feels as premium as it gets.

There are some shortcomings too though, as you would imagine in a low-slung, four-door coupe model. Storage spaces are rather limited inside, especially if we’re talking about the doors. You can’t really fit anything in the door pockets, apart maybe from your phone, wallet or a banana. The center armrest is also short of space, but at least there are two full-sized cup holders available in the console.

The back seats might look cool too, replicating the ones up front, but the sloping roofline does cut into the headroom available for the rear passengers. And you might be tempted to squeeze three people back there but I wouldn’t recommend it, as you get a massive center console in the back as well.

I was surprised to see that I could fit in the back though, with the seat in front of me adjusted to my preferred driving position. I’m 6-ft tall and yet could travel in the back, with a slight issue in terms of headroom. Other than that, my knees didn’t touch the back of the front seat.

The Driving Experience

Getting behind the wheel of the 8 Series Gran Coupe might seem like a nerve-wrecking exercise at first then, considering the impressive size of the car in every aspect but it’s really not, even though I was driving inside a very old European city. There are plenty of aids on board to help you out, as even BMW knows the visibility from behind the wheel isn’t great.

Sitting behind the wheel you notice just how small the windows are (that great looking exterior does come at a price) and that rear visibility is terribly affected too. The car has a long hood and that might make you nervous, as you’ll be struggling at first to get accustomed to the extremities of the whole thing.

Luckily, the tech available on board helps out. You get parking sensors in every direction and a 360-degree surround view camera system that has great resolution and work brilliantly at night as well. On top of that, you can also get integral steering if you want and that is a live saver in Europe’s narrow parking lots.

TEST DRIVE: 2021 BMW 840i Gran Coupe – Luxury lifestyle
A Stylish Rear-End

Turn on the engine and you’ll be greeted by a familiar sound. Under the hood there is a B58 3-liter straight six engine, the workhorse of the current BMW stable if you will. However, you should know that it was changed ever so slightly for the 2021 European model year, as EU regulations in terms of emissions have forced BMW to adapt.

Therefore, whereas up until December 2020 you would get 340 PS on the 840i, nowadays the car comes with 333 PS at its disposal. Fret not though, you can still rely on 500 Nm (369 lb-ft) of torque to get around and I have to say I think BMW is drastically undercutting the power output of this car.

Heading into my time with the car I was actually thinking those numbers wouldn’t be enough for a car as big as the 840i Gran Coupe and yet I was surprised. Even in its most basic configuration, the 8 Series Gran Coupe felt lively and plenty fast, pulling off into triple digit speeds without seemingly breaking a sweat. 0-62 mph takes 5.1 seconds and that’s faster than 90 percent of the cars on the road today, even though this is the entry-level 8er. That says a lot about the performance these cars have.

Unlike the diesel 840d, the 840i also comes with a decent sound, the familiar burbles being present, especially in Sport Mode. Those attributes come with a price though, the B58 engine being rather thirsty on such a big car. The average fuel consumption figures shown by the car’s on-board computer around town were around 15 l/100 km (15.6 mpg) while outside the city limits that figure was closer to 10 l/100 km (23.5 mpg). The range of the car in these conditions was close to 400-480 km (250-300 miles).

The suspension feels as comfortable as you would imagine, ironing out the road ahead without letting even the smallest jolt get into the cabin and transferred to your backside. It’s quite amazing how well it all works together but all this comfort does come at a price though, which is agility.

TEST DRIVE: 2021 BMW 840i Gran Coupe – Luxury lifestyle
The perfect cruiser

The 8 Series Gran Coupe is not exactly the perfect athlete. Push it hard into a corner and you can feel it lean a bit. There’s still plenty of mechanical grip on the front axle and the trademark rear-bias of the xDrive system can be felt mid-corner, as you push on the gas pedal. Doing that right at the apex will make the car’s rear end squirm and push you out of the corner, for a BMW-approved experience. The 840i is still a fun to drive car but it does lean a bit more than you’d expect into a corner and will feel a bit soft overall. But that’s to be expected, as BMW didn’t set out to make this car a proper M4 rival.

The best way to experience the 840i Gran Coupe then is on an open road, maybe alongside a large body of water. It can cover immense landfills in absolute comfort, being a true GT model. The way it soaks up the bumps in the road and the effortless way it carries itself definitely recommends it as one of the top GT models available on sale today.

Even though the 8er Gran Coupe comes with frameless windows they do a very good job at muffling out the exterior sounds. The Gran Coupe has a very aerodynamic shape and cuts through the air efficiently, which reduces the wind noise coming in. Therefore, you get a very comfortable experience and, even if the car’s sound insulation wasn’t this good, the Bowers&Wilkins sound system would easily take care of it, with your favorite tunes.

840i or M850i?

The 840i Gran Coupe was then just as impressive as the M850i I sampled a while back. It may sound peculiar comparing a straight six engine with a monstrous 500 HP V8 but the truth of the matter is, the 8 Series (be it Gran Coupe, Convertible or Coupe) isn’t necessarily all about speed.

It’s better understood if you decide to actually enjoy your time in it, without being in pursuit of land speed records. What I’m trying to say is that the essence of this car resides in its looks, luxury and comfort more than in its speed or handling. That’s its core: the way it makes you feel when you’re behind the wheel, envied by almost everyone else on the road.

That warm, fuzzy feeling you get while being observed (and, trust me, you will be noticed behind the wheel of a Wild Berry BMW) cruising around town in it has nothing to do with the size of the engine under the hood.

2021 BMW 840i Gran Coupe

Exterior Appeal - 10
Interior Quality - 9
Steering Feedback - 8
Performance - 7
Handling - 8
BMWness/Ultimate Driving Machine - 8
Price Point - 8

8.3

The 840i Gran Coupe was then just as impressive as the M850i I sampled a while back. It may sound peculiar comparing a straight six engine with a monstrous 500 HP V8 but the truth of the matter is, the 8 Series (be it Gran Coupe, Convertible or Coupe) isn’t necessarily all about speed.