BMW 8-Series (G15)


Debut: 2018
Maker: BMW
Predecessor: 6-Series F12



 Published on 30 Nov 2018
All rights reserved. 


8-Series returns, but its mission is as hard to accomplish as ever...


BMW used the 8-Series label only once. That was between 1989 and 1998. The original 8-Series was a large luxury coupe built upon the mechanicals of the 7-Series, including its 300hp 5-liter V12 motor. During its whole life, it was hampered by its immense weight and size, failing to deliver a driving experience worthy of the BMW badge. All 8-Series models but the final, 380hp, 5.6-liter 850CSi were not quick enough to catch our attention. If not because of its handsome look, we would have forgotten it long ago. Naturally, it left the world without replacement.

In 2004, BMW resurrected the 6-Series label for its new coupe. The 6er was built on the component set of the 5-Series thus was considered a cheaper car than the 8er. It also offered a larger rear seat to widen its market appeal. However, after 2 generations, the 6-Series label is retired again. Replacing it is, you guess, the 8-Series label again!

So what is BMW thinking? Maybe we can explain its strange behavior. In the past decade, sales of coupes and cabriolets have been falling – more in lower price segments but premium segments are also affected. This is because many customers turn to SUVs. When car makers offer more and more SUVs, including some very fast, stylish and sophisticated ones, fewer and fewer people want conventional coupes. One exception is the high-end segments. Luxury coupes like Bentley Continental GT, Aston Martin DB11 and Porsche 911 seem to be unaffected by the fever of SUVs, because their buyers are wealthy enough to own an SUV and a coupe (and probably a saloon) simultaneously. This trend drives BMW to move its coupe upmarket and adopt the 8-Series label again.



BMW positions the car to the GT camp like Aston and Porsche.


However, that arises another question. The high-end coupe segment is actually divided into 2 camps: sporty and luxury. We usually call the sporty one as GT. They include the aforementioned Aston and Porsche, the front-engined Ferraris, Maserati as well as Lexus LC. Meanwhile, the luxury camp includes Bentley and Mercedes S-class Coupe, and you might take 4-door coupes like Audi A7 into account. For the 8-Series Coupe and Cabriolet, BMW chose the GT camp. For the forthcoming 8-Series Gran Coupe, it takes the other camp. Wise decision.

When the new 8-Series, codenamed G17, debuted in last year’s Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este in concept form, it was really head-turning. Very sleek, sharp and interestingly sculpted, it looked so gorgeous that you could easily confuse it with an Italian design, and I guess you might be willing to trade your Aston Martin for it. However, when the car enters production, it has lost a large part of its charm. Although the proportion looks similar, some alterations here and there result in a rather different perception. For example, to accommodate the hot-Vee twin-turbo V8, the bonnet is raised a little, leading to a bulkier appearance. The use of 20-inch instead of 21-inch wheels have a similar effect, visually pushing up the waistline. The nose of the car looks bulkier than the concept’s, too. Previously, the nose was pointy, headed by the chromed and 3-dimensional double-kidney grille. The bonnet, the slim headlights and bumper elements all flowed seamlessly towards the grille. Now in order to save repair costs, the grille is not only converted to less elegant black elements, but it is flattened and moved back, leaving the bumper at the forefront. As a result, the sleek-looking nose becomes conventional, not much different from other BMW cars. Equally disappointing, the side windows lose the concept’s chrome surround. The blade-style taillights of the concept become no more than a poor approximation with conventional hardware. The minimalist beauty of the back is also damaged by the black cladding of diffusers. In short, whatever can go wrong, it goes wrong.


Styling in a mess: whatever can go wrong, it goes wrong.


As a result, I won’t compare the 8-Series to Aston Martin again. Ford Mustang might be.

Despite the classier name and upgraded market positioning, from technical point of view, the 8-Series is not much different from its 6-Series predecessor. It is once again derived from the underpinnings of 5-Series. Not only it is no larger, it is actually a bit shorter than the old car. Its wheelbase is 33mm shorter, too, and its roof is lowered by 28mm. This is because a GT is not supposed to take as much care for rear passengers. Yes, its rear seats are cramped, so cramped that people taller than 5-foot-8 won’t fit. In other words, they are practically child seats.

If anything shows its higher price points – £76,000 for the entry-level 840d or £100,000 for the M850i – that must be the interior. While the old 6-Series failed to wash away the smell of 5-Series, the 8-Series has a more upmarket interior. Its use of stitched leather, large areas of brushed aluminum inserts and even a glass gear knob breath a luxury ambience. While Aston feels more special, Bentley and Mercedes feel more luxury, the BMW is modern and intuitive. It has a TFT instrument (frankly, no more useful than good old dials) and an excellent iDrive infotainment system that you can access through either touchscreen, voice commands or iDrive rotary controller. The seats are mounted very low, just as a GT should, but they are comfortable for long journeys. To the driver, the 8-Series is a much better place to spend time than its predecessor.



Brushed aluminum inserts and glass gear knob breath a luxury ambience.


Like its platform donor, its chassis is constructed in mostly high-strength steel but aluminum is used on the engine/suspension subframes. The bonnet, roof and doors are aluminum, while M850 has CFRP roof to lower center of gravity. Double-wishbones and 5-link suspensions are carried over from the 5-Series as well, but retuned for sportier response. They are equipped with adaptive dampers but not air springs, just like M5. Surprisingly, BMW decided to fit all models with xDrive as standard. It engages the front axle only when slippage occurs, so the rear-biased handling remains. The only penalty is an additional weight of about 65kg. To enhance agility, 4-wheel steering, active variable-ratio steering and active differential are standard on the M850i. Active anti-roll bars is optional, although it is not strictly necessary considering the car's low center of gravity.

As it is so well equipped, the M850i is not going to be light. Rated at 1890kg DIN, it is 130kg heavier than an Aston DB11 V8, or 300kg heftier than a 911 Turbo! You might say an AMG S63 Coupe is 115kg heavier still, but it is a larger and more luxurious car.

Predictably, the 8-Series does not offer as many engine options as BMW saloons. Its lineup starts from 840d (320hp 3-liter straight-six turbo diesel) and 840i (3-liter straight-six turbo petrol, to be unveiled next year). It will be topped by M8 flagship late next year, but right now the most potent version is M850i. Unlike the original 850i, it is powered by a V8 instead of a V12. The 4.4-liter twin-turbo unit is derived from that of M550i, but it gets a wide range of modifications, including larger turbos, arc-wire spray cylinder coating, revised intake air ducts, higher fuel injection pressure, stronger pistons and con-rods as well as a new crankcase. As a result, output is lifted from 462 to 530hp, while max. torque is improved from 479 to 553 lbft. That’s half way between the standard BMW V8 and the M-power V8. Helped further by the excellent ZF 8-speed automatic and the advantage of xDrive traction, the M850i takes only 3.6 seconds to sprint from 0-60mph, faster than the rear-drive DB11 V8. However, it is no faster than the 4-wheel-drive Bentley Continental GT or the new 992 Carrera 4S, while AMG S63 Coupe and Ferrari Portofino claim faster time. The weakest figure is top speed, as it is strictly regulated to 155mph. Since it is not a full-house M-car, there is no option to raise the speed limit.



M850i sprints from 0-60 in 3.6 seconds.


On the road, that V8 motor is hard to fault. It has an elastic mid-range and plenty of top-end grunt. At higher revs, it sounds good, too, if a little distant if not electronically enhanced by speakers. Turbo lag is more than desired at lower revs, but there is always 4400c.c. to serve your instant demand. Although it lacks the aural appeal of AMG (hence Aston) and the passionate soul of Ferrari V8, it is good enough. Moreover, it does the work of cruising remarkably well, registering just over 2000 rpm at 100mph, hence a quiet and relaxing manner.

The M850i serves the role of long-distance GT pretty well. In Comfort mode, its steering is fingertip-light. Its ride is composed, although not as supple as the luxury camp coupes. Its noise insulation is better than Aston Martin.

The original 8er did the cruising work just as fine in its days, but the new car trumps it by taking handling with equal attention. Cars in the 1980s and 1990s had few options. If they were big and heavy, they could never drive like a lightweight sports car. Physics don’t change, but modern technologies can relieve the pain significantly. With the help of active differential and rear-wheel steering, the M850 feels smaller and lighter than it is. Pushing it quickly into a tight corner may still exhibit too much understeer and reveal its weight, but the car feels mostly well balanced in other situations. Body roll is tightly checked by the sportier settings of adaptive dampers. The xDrive offers dependable traction and grip. The large steel brakes do a great job to kill speed, and they are strong enough to withstand a few laps of track abuse.



With e-diff and 4WS, it feels smaller and lighter than it is...... but up to a point.


Nevertheless, ultimately you won’t choose the M850i as your weapon to attack a track or a twisty mountain road. Its agility and sharpness is good to a point. Beyond that, Porsche and Aston win. The tons of corrective technologies also take communication out of the equation. The active steering is not only numb, but its varying speed and weighting could feel unnatural at times.

The world changed a lot since the last 8-Series. Today, we are surprised that a heavyweight Bentley or S-class Coupe could be so fast and competent in corners, and a 911 or Aston could be so comfortable and livable. The new 8-Series tries to be seen as the latter camp, but its sedan-derived chassis means it is only half-successful. Sitting between the two camps could be an advantage, but this also means it fail to please both kinds of buyers. A beautiful shape could be a game-saver. Unfortunately, it got lost in the road from concept to production. The BMW 8-Series is by no means a bad car. It is just not distinctive enough in any areas to deserve recommendation.
Verdict:
 Published on 16 Feb 2020
All rights reserved. 
M8 and M8 Competition


Fastest and most expensive in BMW's line-up, this is the performance flagship of Munich.


This is the first ever M8, since the first generation 8-Series was toppled by 850CSi rather than an M-badge model. It is also the fastest and most expensive BMW on offer, priced at more than £120,000 before options. Put it simply, it is the performance flagship of Munich. Like the lesser M850i, the M8 intends to be a GT in the same breath of Aston Martin DB11 and Bentley Continental GT, so it is more performance-oriented than Mercedes S63 Coupe, and more luxurious than Porsche 911 Turbo or Ferrari Portofino, at least that is how BMW sees it.

However, motoring journalists might see it the other way: a 2-door M5. Yes, just like its predecessor M6, despite a classier name and price tag, the M8 is still derived from the M5. We are not talking of just platform, but all the important mechanicals underpinning it. This starts from the S63B44T4 twin-turbo V8 that produces 600 horsepower and 553 lbft of torque in standard tune, or 625 hp and the same torque on M8 Competition. Both sets of figures are exactly the same as the M5 and M5 Competition. Likewise, power is transferred to the same 8-speed ZF automatic transmission and M xDrive 4WD system, the latter can be switched to RWD mode should you want to play power slide on a track. What differs the M8 from M5 is the short-wheelbase, 2-door, lower and slightly wider body shell, of course. Its suspensions, which employ the same hardware, the same adaptive dampers and active anti-roll bars, are set 10mm lower. In addition to the lower and carbon-fiber roof, the car has a center of gravity 24mm lower than that of the sedan. Otherwise, the underpinnings are just the same. Like the M5 but not the lesser M850i, it skips 4-wheel steering in pursuit of a more natural steering response. Admittedly, the M xDrive system makes rear-wheel steering less needed.

Ridiculously, the M8 is actually 10 kg heavier than its 4-door cousin. Somehow, BMW claims it sprint from rest to 60 mph a tenth quicker, which is 3.1 seconds for the M8 Competition. Top speed is again regulated at 190 mph.

Apart from more power, the Competition model gets specific chassis tuning. This includes stiffer engine mounts, more negative camber at the front suspensions and rigid-ball joints at the rear suspension toe links. It gets also a louder exhaust and lighter forged alloy wheels. However, the standard steel brakes are just the same, as are the optional carbon-ceramic brakes.



The M8 performs just as you expected: a 2-door M5.


On the road, the M8 performs just as you expected: a 2-door M5. No faster and no slower, just corner with a bit more control and precision. On straight, the car is easily faster than the V8 versions of Aston Martin DB11 and Bentley Continental GT, or even the their 12-cylinder versions, but this is partly down to the traction of 4-wheel drive. Inside the M8’s cabin, the sense of speed is not that great, because the M-power V8 is not loud enough, even with the sport exhaust of Competition. For a performance sedan like M5 it is understandable, but for a high-performance GT it lacks the necessary sense of occasion.

You may say the same to the looks of M8. The rear end is adventurous enough, but the front is rather dull. Large double-kidney grilles, large cooling intakes and those black mesh elements might shout about performance, but they are just not beautiful. The M8 looks just like any BMW SUVs compressed by 250 mm vertically. There is nothing inspiring, nothing catching the heart of an enthusiast. When you are rivalling Aston, Bentley or even Ferrari, lacking a desirable appearance is a deadly sin.

Munich might want to claw back some points in the handling and ride department. However, facing the excellent DB11 and vastly improved Bentley, the chances are slim. Yes, the M8 hides its weight very well. Its tremendous grip and traction, quick turn-in and tight body control give a sure-footed athleticism unimagined by the old M6. In fast bend, it has understeer kept to the minimum, flies from one bend to another with precision. Engage rear-drive mode and you can swing its tail out massively, but still controllably by throttle and steering. The balance is superb. However, you might say the same to the Bentley, while the rear-drive DB11 offers more feel from the steering and a greater sense of agility. The BMW’s sponge brake pedal doesn’t help either.

A GT also needs to be comfortable to travel over long distances. The M8 doesn’t ride with the same supple manner as its rivals. Sharp bumps and ridges at low speed reveal the limitation of its stiff and short-travel suspension setup. As for cabin, you might forgive its useless rear seats, but the cabin design and materials are all too close to the lesser 8-Series. While ergonomics and functionality are good, sense of occasion is lacking. The M8 is neither as luxurious as a Bentley nor as good to drive as an Aston. Although it is priced slightly lower than both, the gaps are not big enough to attract different kind of buyers. Most problematic, it feels nothing more than a 2-door coupe version of M5, which is sold for £25,000 less.
Verdict:
 Published on 23 Mar 2020
All rights reserved. 
8-Series Gran Coupe


Benefited with a 201mm longer wheelbase, its proportion is sleeker and more balanced...


Following the introduction of Gran Coupe, the 8-Series family is finally completed. Like its 6-Series Gran Coupe predecessor, the 4-door luxury coupe is more likeable than the 2-door Coupe and Cabriolet. Benefited with a 201mm longer wheelbase, its proportion is sleeker and more balanced, certainly more beautiful than its 2-door siblings. In the 4-door luxury coupe world, it is also the better looking one, thanks to a flowing waistline that is more akin to Italian than German designs. In fact, it can easily shade any current Maseratis.

With the wheelbase boosted to a massive, limousine-like 3023mm, the car’s overall length also exceeds 5 meters. This is a large car, not just seen from the perspective of coupes, but any cars at any price. Fortunately, it uses space more efficiently than the new Corvette. The rear seats are truly sized for adults. People up to 6ft 3in can sit comfortably with plenty of legroom and just enough headroom without rubbing their heads against the roof liner. That is a surprise, as the roofline looks steeply raked at the back. The secret is to raise the roof by 66mm, and hide its tallness by stretching the roofline and making the car 30mm wider. Nevertheless, don’t expect it to be as usable as a limousine, because the middle of the rear bench is hard and its foot well occupied by a large transmission tunnel, so the 5th passenger can be accommodated, but only for an emergency ride. However, for 4 passengers, this is a comfortable car to travel along.



M850i xDrive is very fast, but it is not as agile as the rear-drive 840i.


The dashboard and most interior bits are shared with the coupe and cabriolet, so it feels modern and stylish enough, but lacks the classy materials and luxurious feel of Mercedes CLS, AMG GT 4-door or Audi A7. The only flamboyant feature here is the optional crystal shifter knob. In terms of ergonomics, with the exception of the gimmicky counter-rotating tachometer, the BMW is generally faultless. The driver sits low. The center console orients to the driver slightly. All controls are positioned well. The iDrive works well and there is a standard head-up display. At the back, the boot is large enough to take a family’s baggage, although it lacks the convenience of liftback.

Like the 2-door, its monocoque chassis is constructed from a combination of aluminum and high-strength steel. Most of the body panels are aluminum sheets, including the doors and roof, but the latter can be converted to CFRP at costs. The Gran Coupe is around 100 kg heavier than the 2-door coupe, but even the range-topping M8 model manages to slip under 2 tons (just), so it is a bit lighter than Audi A7/S/7/RS7 and AMG GT 4-door. However, compared with the equivalent 5-Series, it is up to 200kg heavier. You might question why it takes considerably more weight and a heftier price tag to accommodate the same powertrains and offer less interior and luggage space. The answer is again that thing: for looks. Luxury coupes are always irrational.



The rear bench offers remarkable space for 2.


Predictably, the range of powertrains mirrors that of the Coupe and Cabriolet. 840i is powered by the B58 3.0-liter straight-6 turbo with 340hp and 369 lbft. It is good for 0-60 in 5.0 or 4.7 seconds respectively with or without xDrive. Not particularly fast these days, but in the real world you won’t feel short changed. The point is, BMW’s classical straight-six is silky smooth, flexible yet eager to rev to its 7000 rpm redline. It makes nice music, too. The base 840i is really an appealing choice, one that overshadowing the base versions of A7 and CLS. It is also better to steer than 840d xDrive, whose diesel engine is punchy (501 lbft of torque from 1750 rpm!) and superbly refined, but the extra weight over the front axle dampens the steering response a little. The 840i is the most agile of the bunch.

The M850i xDrive is faster, of course. With 530 horsepower, the V8 model takes 3.8 seconds to go from rest to 60 mph, quick enough to be a true M-car a few years back. Nevertheless, it is also heavy, and you feel that in corner. Adaptive dampers, active anti-roll bars, electronic locking differential and 4-wheel steering never shrunk off its weight completely. Perhaps the sportier suspension tuning of M8 Gran Coupe could sharpen things up. The semi-M model feels neither sporty enough nor as easy going as the lighter, nimbler 840i. Its more isolated steering feel doesn’t help the impression either. You can save a lot of cash by taking the base model.



It is not afraid to slice into twisty mountain roads, but it also cruises comfortably on Autobahn.


Actually, the rear-drive 840i Gran Coupe doesn’t need trick anti-roll bars or 4-wheel steering to shine. Just take the stiffer M Sport suspension with 20-inch wheels and fatter tires will make it a keen handling machine. Its steering is precise and well weighted, with better steering feel than some of the past efforts, though not to be confused with a Mazda MX-5. The brakes are powerful and pedal is easy to modulate. The body control is good with adaptive dampers set to Sport or Sport+ mode, while Comfort mode will turn it into a perfect companion for long-distance cruising. The chassis feels rock-solid and noise insulation is up to very high standards, despite frameless windows. The wide tires offer bags of grip. At the limit it understeers gently. To push it to oversteer is virtually impossible on public roads, but that is expected for a luxury 4-door coupe. The 840i Gran Coupe is not afraid to slice through twisty mountain roads, where it feels smaller than its size suggested, but it also cruises comfortably on Autobahn at triple-digit speeds, just as its name suggested. In addition to the handsome exterior, this is a highly recommendable car.

Incredibly, although it is better looking and much more usable, the Gran Coupe is a few thousand dollars cheaper than the equivalent 8-Series 2-door Coupe. It is the best of the bunch, unquestionably.
Verdict:
Specifications





Year
Layout
Chassis
Body
Length / width / height
Wheelbase
Engine
Capacity
Valve gears
Induction
Other engine features
Max power
Max torque
Transmission
Suspension layout

Suspension features
Tires
Kerb weight
Top speed
0-60 mph (sec)
0-100 mph (sec)
840d xDrive
2018
Front-engined, 4WD, 4WS
Steel + aluminum monocoque
Aluminum + steel + carbon-fiber
4843 / 1902 / 1341 mm
2822 mm
Inline-6 diesel
2993 c.c.
DOHC 24 valves
Sequential twin-turbo
CDI
320 hp / 4400 rpm
501 lbft / 1750-2250 rpm
8-speed automatic
F: double-wishbone
R: multi-link
Adaptive damping
F: 245/35ZR20; R: 275/30ZR20
1830 kg
155 mph (limited)
4.7 (c) / 5.0**
12.8**
M850i xDrive
2018
Front-engined, 4WD, 4WS
Steel + aluminum monocoque
Aluminum + steel + carbon-fiber
4851 / 1902 / 1346 mm
2822 mm
V8, 90-degree
4395 c.c.
DOHC 32 valves, DVVT, VVL
Twin-turbo
DI
530 hp / 5500-6000 rpm
553 lbft / 1800-4600 rpm
8-speed automatic
F: double-wishbone
R: multi-link
Adaptive damping, active anti-roll bar
F: 245/35ZR20; R: 275/30ZR20
1890 kg
155 mph (limited)
3.6 (c) / 3.3*
7.6*
M8 Competition
2019
Front-engined, 4WD
Steel + aluminum monocoque
Aluminum + steel + carbon-fiber
4867 / 1907 / 1362 mm
2827 mm
V8, 90-degree
4395 c.c.
DOHC 32 valves, DVVT, VVL
Twin-turbo
DI
625 hp / 6000-6700 rpm
553 lbft / 1800-5800 rpm
8-speed automatic
F: double-wishbone
R: multi-link
Adaptive damping, active anti-roll bar
F: 275/35ZR20; R: 285/35ZR20
1885 kg
190 mph (limited)
3.1 (c)
-




Performance tested by: *C&D, **Autocar





Year
Layout
Chassis
Body
Length / width / height
Wheelbase
Engine
Capacity
Valve gears
Induction
Other engine features
Max power
Max torque
Transmission
Suspension layout

Suspension features
Tires
Kerb weight
Top speed
0-60 mph (sec)
0-100 mph (sec)
840i Gran Coupe
2019
Front-engined, RWD, 4WS
Steel + aluminum monocoque
Aluminum + steel + carbon-fiber
5082 / 1932 / 1407 mm
3023 mm
Inline-6
2998 c.c.
DOHC 24 valves, DVVT, VVL
Turbo
DI
340 hp / 5000-6500 rpm
369 lbft / 1600-4500 rpm
8-speed automatic
F: double-wishbone
R: multi-link
Adaptive damping
F: 245/35ZR20; R: 275/30ZR20
1800 kg
155 mph (limited)
5.0 (c) / 4.7*
11.8*
M850i Gran Coupe xDrive
2019
Front-engined, 4WD, 4WS
Steel + aluminum monocoque
Aluminum + steel + carbon-fiber
5082 / 1932 / 1407 mm
3023 mm
V8, 90-degree
4395 c.c.
DOHC 32 valves, DVVT, VVL
Twin-turbo
DI
530 hp / 5500-6000 rpm
553 lbft / 1800-4600 rpm
8-speed automatic
F: double-wishbone
R: multi-link
Adaptive damping, active anti-roll bar
F: 245/35ZR20; R: 275/30ZR20
1995 kg
155 mph (limited)
3.8 (c) / 3.5*
8.3*
M8 Gran Coupe Competition
2019
Front-engined, 4WD, 4WS
Steel + aluminum monocoque
Aluminum + steel + carbon-fiber
5098 / 1943 / 1420 mm
3027 mm
V8, 90-degree
4395 c.c.
DOHC 32 valves, DVVT, VVL
Twin-turbo
DI
625 hp / 6000-6700 rpm
553 lbft / 1800-5800 rpm
8-speed automatic
F: double-wishbone
R: multi-link
Adaptive damping, active anti-roll bar
F: 275/35ZR20; R: 285/35ZR20
1980 kg
190 mph (limited)
3.1 (c)
-




Performance tested by: *C&D





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