BMW 8-Series Coupe

Flagship M850i to take on Porsche 911 Carrera 4 GTS and Mercedes S560 Coupe

by Jordan Katsianis

BMW is bringing back the 8-series after an absence of nearly 20 years. The coupe you see here is just the beginning of the new line-up, which will later include convertibles and four-door Gran Coupes, with M8 variants available in all three body styles.

For now the two-door hard-top version offers a new option for buyers looking for a sophisticated yet still dynamically adept GT coupe. Topping the range at launch will be the M850i xDrive, which at £100,045 looks to be a keen compromise between the Porsche 911 Carrera 4 GTS and the more laid-back Mercedes-Benz S560 Coupe, both of which are priced around £103k. We’d also throw the £144k Aston Martin DB11 V8 into the mix.

Here’s what the new 8-series Coupe will bring to tackle its rivals.

‘BMW has thrown its full arsenal of chassis tech at the car, including xDrive, rear-wheel steering and active roll stabilisation’

1. Engines

At launch, two models will be available: an entry-level 840d xDrive and the M850i xDrive M Performance. The latter will utilise BMW’s venerable twin-turbocharged 4.4-litre V8. With 522bhp, the M850i concedes 70bhp to the current M5, but it matches its 553lb ft of torque. The later M8 will, of course, address that power gap.

The 840d’s 3-litre in-line six-cylinder turbodiesel is borrowed from the 740d and produces 316bhp, backed up by 501lb ft of torque between 1750 and 2250rpm. It will accelerate from 0 to 62mph in 4.9sec – 1.2sec slower than the petrol car. Both models are limited to 155mph.

2. Chassis

The new 8-series is built from a cocktail of materials designed to reduce weight and increase rigidity in strategic areas. Many of the body panels, plus the front and rear crash structures and the bulkhead, are aluminium, while the cockpit’s centre tunnel is carbonfibre. Nevertheless, the M850i’s kerb weight is still a hefty 1890kg.

This is in part due to BMW throwing its full arsenal of chassis tech at the new 8-series, including xDrive all-wheel drive, rear-wheel steering and, optionally, active roll stabilisation. It’s worth noting that the M850i’s weight figure undercuts the Mercedes S560 Coupe’s by 110kg.

3. Design

Design chief Adrian van Hooydonk needed this new flagship mainstream model to purvey the ‘ideal’ BMW and point the way forward for the design of future models. While it’s not as attention-grabbing as, say, an i8, the 8-series certainly looks imposing in the metal. Its slim LED or optional laser headlights are the thinnest yet fitted to a production BMW, while the car also features a downturned and conjoined kidney grille – the first time these two emerging design traits have been combined.

The roof has a subtle double-bubble effect, and the body as a whole is a very deliberate exercise in creating a three-box coupe, shunning the trend of fastback coupes that have become commonplace.

4. Interior

The overall cabin architecture is simplified compared to that of the outgoing 6-series, but quality has been a key element, according to BMW, as well as incorporating all the latest interior tech. A particularly glamorous touch is the crystal-like gearshifter, which sits in a control centre-like arrangement alongside the i-Drive dial and chassis buttons.

Although still suitably sumptuous, the interior – like the rest of the car – is more driver-focused than that of the Mercedes S-class Coupe, as is emphasised by the centre stack being angled acutely towards the driver. Its blocky aesthetic could even be a gentle homage to the original 8-series from 1989.

Specification (M850i)

Engine V8, 4395cc, twin-turbo
Power 523bhp @ 5500-6000rpm
Torque 553lb ft @ 1800-4600rpm
Weight 1890kg
Power-to-weight 281bhp/ton
0-62mph 3.7sec
Top speed 155mph (limited)
Basic price £100,045
On sale November 2018