BMW 8 Series Review
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
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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.
There’s ample space for you to get comfortable in the front of the BMW 8 Series but the two cramped back seats are best left to kids.
The BMW 8 Series is no practical family hauler, but its boot is bigger than those in most slinky two-door sports cars.
The BMW 8 Series is a vast car, but you’ll only find four seats inside. In the front, there’s plenty of leg- and headroom for you to get comfortable – even if you’re very tall – and the seats come with loads of electric adjustment as standard to help you find a comfortable seating position and get a good view out.
The seats come with some nicely padded side bolsters to hold you tightly in place in corners, but they could do with a little more lower leg support – something you’ll quickly notice if you’re quite tall or do lots of long journeys.
Space in the back is pretty poor – even for a low-slung sports car. There’s space for two kids but even small adults will start to feel pretty claustrophobic after a few minutes in the back.
You can fit a pair of child seats in the back, but lifting the seat through the narrow gap between the BMW 8 Series’ front seat and the door pillar feels like squeezing a tank through a multi-storey car park. At least the Isofix anchor points are easy to locate behind a set of removable plastic covers, but leaning in to strap in a child requires the flexibility of a gymnast.
Thankfully, you won’t have any trouble storing a few odds and ends in the BMW 8 Series’ cabin. The glovebox is reasonably roomy and you get a fairly large storage bin under the central armrest. Fold up a flap in front of the gear lever and you’ll find a pair of cupholders and a tray for your phone with a built-in wireless charger.
Unfortunately, the door bins – while very long – are too narrow to accommodate anything wider than a 500ml bottle and passengers in the back don’t get a folding armrest or any cupholders.
The BMW 8 Series isn’t particularly adept at carrying passengers, but it claws back some points with its impressively roomy boot – for a two-door sports car, at least. You’ll be able to squeeze in 420 litres of luggage, that’s around 5% more than in a Mercedes S-Class Coupe and more than double what you can fit in the Lexus LC’s boot.
There’s quite a large lip by the BMW 8 Series’ boot opening which makes lifting in heavy luggage rather tricky, but once you’ve dealt with this you’ll find there’s space for a set of golf clubs or a few large suitcases.
The BMW 8 Series is a comfortable motorway cruiser which also feels sporty when you fancy taking the long way home. You do have to pay extra for its fancy suspension upgrades, though.
The BMW 8 Series feels sportier to drive than most large two-door grand tourers and its clever four-wheel steering means it isn’t particularly daunting to drive in town.
You can get the BMW 8 Series with either a petrol or a diesel engine. Both models are four-wheel-drive and get an eight-speed automatic gearbox.
The diesel engine in the 840d model is your most affordable option, both in terms of purchase price and running costs. BMW claims it’ll return 46mpg, but you’ll more likely see around 40mpg in normal driving conditions – pretty reasonably for a big two-door GT car. It’s no slouch, though – this 3.0-litre six-cylinder unit produces 320hp and will launch the BMW 8 Series from 0-62mph in 4.9 seconds.
If outright pace is what you’re looking for, however, the M850i is worth a look. This petrol-powered model packs a 4.4-litre twin-turbocharged V8 which produces a whopping 530hp. As a result, it’ll leap from 0-62mph in 3.7 seconds. It can’t match the diesel model’s fuel economy, though, so you’ll have to stop for fuel more regularly on any cross-continental road trips.
Despite its very large size, the BMW 8 Series is pretty easy to drive. Sure, the narrow windscreen and thick door pillars create a few sizeable blind spots at junctions, but the light steering means your arms won’t get tired if you have to thread the BMW 8 Series through tight city streets. It’s surprisingly manoeuvrable too, thanks to a clever four-wheel-steering system which angles the rear wheels outwards to help you perform U-turns in tight spaces.
The BMW 8 Series’ standard adaptive suspension does a good job ironing out bumps around town and on the motorway, and its quiet cabin helps make it very relaxing to travel in for long periods.
It’s especially stress-free to cruise in if you pay extra for the Driving Assistant Professional pack. This comes with adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist features that work together to accelerate, brake and steer for you on motorways – providing you keep your hands on the steering wheel.
If you’d rather do the driving yourself, you won’t be disappointed when you switch off the BMW 8 Series’ electronic chauffeur and head onto some twisty country roads. Put it into Sport or Sport+ mode and the adaptive suspension becomes firmer, the steering weightier and the throttle response sharper – all of which help the BMW 8 Series feel more agile than its generous proportions would have you believe.
Pick an M850i model with the optional Adaptive M suspension and the BMW 8 Series feels even more nimble and sure-footed thanks to some clever mechanical trickery that physically leans the car’s body into bends at speed.
The fantastic eight-speed gearbox is another feather in the BMW 8 Series’ hat. It blends gears together smoothly around town but put it in Sport+ mode and it responds with lighting reflexes when you pull the manual shift paddles on the steering wheel. This is partly down to some clever sensors that monitor how hard you’re braking and prime the gearbox in advance to shift into exactly the right gear as soon as you hit the paddle.
Overall, the BMW 8 Series feels much sportier than the rather sedate Mercedes S-Class Coupe and Lexus LC pairing on a windy country road, yet doesn’t compromise on comfort when you just want to settle into a quiet cruise.
The BMW 8 Series’ interior looks great, feels very plush and comes with loads of high-tech features, but it isn’t as eye-catching as the cabins you get in more expensive alternatives.