The BMW 8 Series is a superbly fast and surprisingly comfortable four-seat sports car but it doesn’t look quite as dramatic as some more expensive alternatives
The BMW 8 Series is a sumptuous grand tourer with a luxurious interior, four seats and a surprising turn of speed. Go for a range-topping M850i model, and this BMW has the pace to take on the likes of the likes of the V8 Aston Martin DB11, the Bentley Continental GT and the Lexus LC.
The BMW 8 Series’ interior might not have the same pizzaz as these more expensive rivals, but you still get an extremely sumptuous cabin with lashings of posh Merino leather and huge slabs of brushed metal. The tall centre console comes with a few too many fiddly buttons, but above it you’ll find a vast touchscreen infotainment display that’s one of the best around.
It’s far easier to use than the clunky last-generation Mercedes system you get in the Aston Martin DB11 and it comes with some of the coolest graphics you’ll see this side of a Lamborghini – most noticeably on the standard digital driver’s display.
Thankfully, the BMW 8 Series is more practical than a Lamborghini – and most other large coupes for that matter. There’s ample space in the front for very tall drivers to stretch out and you even get a pair of back seats as standard. Sure, these will be a very tight squeeze for adults but kids will have plenty of space to get comfy.
There’s space in the boot for a couple of medium suitcases and you can even fold the back seats down to carry long luggage, too. This isn’t a car you’ll want to take to the tip, however – more likely you’ll be blasting down the autobahn or storming up a mountain pass on your way to the ski chalet.
Speaking of which, driving the BMW 8 Series for long distances is an absolute doddle. The standard adaptive suspension does an excellent job ironing out potholes and even the most raucous M850i V8 model emits merely a whisper in eighth gear at motorway speeds.
Turn onto a twisty back road, put it in Sport mode and hit the throttle and this relaxing grand tourer transforms into a surprisingly lithe sports car faster than you can say ‘hold on in the back!’. The 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 produces a whopping 523hp which – combined with a grippy four-wheel-drive system – rockets the 8 Series from 0-62mph at a rate that’d make some supercars blush.
The standard eight-speed automatic gearbox is one of the best in the business, too – shifting quickly and smoothly, no matter which of the driving modes you choose. Stick it in Sport and it’ll even sense when you’re entering a corner and prime the gearbox to deliver lightning-fast downshifts as soon as you hit the brakes.
Go one step further into Sport+ mode and the standard adaptive suspension becomes firmer to make the four-wheel-drive M850i as squat and purposeful as possible. You can even get the car with an active anti-roll system that uses electric motors to physically lean the car into a corner as soon as you turn the steering wheel.
The BMW 8 Series’ automatic gearbox is so clever it can actually tell the difference between very hard braking and an emergency stop and change gear accordingly
Thankfully, BMW’s considered more than just what makes a car great fun to drive on a country road. The BMW 8 Series comes with four-wheel steering to help make it as stable as possible on the motorway and more manoeuvrable than its large size would suggest around town.
That said, threading this imposing grand tourer through tight gaps in traffic is still a slightly nerve-wracking experience. Rear visibility is pretty poor and the small side windows don’t give you a particularly good view out.
You could level these criticisms at almost every slinky four-seat sports car on sale, however, and they quickly fade into the background when you consider the BMW 8 Series’ impressive breadth of abilities. It’s an excellent long-distance cruiser yet summons up some sports car skills when you fancy having fun on a deserted back road.