BMW 8 Series Convertible Review
The BMW 8 Series Convertible is a rare thing: a luxurious open-top GT that’ll put a smile on your face around corners. There’s only really room for two, though, and the petrol is thirsty.
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The BMW 8 Series Convertible is the solution to a problem that’s nice to have: how to blast from the UK to the south of France quickly but comfortably, enjoy an Alpine pass along the way, but also bask in the warm Mediterranean sun upon arrival. If that’s what you woke up worrying about this morning, BMW has your answer.
But it isn’t necessarily the only answer. There are other luxurious open-top GT cars that’ll scythe their way to Saint Tropez with similar speed and grace. The best of those include the Bentley Continental GT Convertible and Mercedes S-Class Cabriolet.
And it’s fair to say the 8 Series doesn’t have quite the presence of those cars. It’s hardly a shrinking violet with its prominent grille and steeply raked windscreen, but you’d wager the Bentley and Mercedes will turn more heads. It’s the same inside – the 8 Series’ cabin is slick and high quality, but it lacks the sheer pizzazz of its rivals.
It has a better infotainment system, though. The most advanced version of BMW’s fantastic iDrive comes as standard and includes a 10-inch screen which can be controlled via a rotary dial between the front seats, physical touch or using your voice. It’ll also respond to hand gestures and comes with a handy Personal Assistant feature that’ll do everything from adjust the climate control to find your favourite restaurant. All you need to do is say ‘hey BMW’ and ask the question.
Where the 8 Series Convertible is less adept is with space. Not in the front, mind, where the driver gets a huge amount of electric seat and wheel adjustment and both front passengers enjoy superbly supportive sports seats. No, it’s the back seats which are the issue – anybody with legs will seriously struggle to stay comfortable on even short journeys. Sure, the Bentley and Mercedes are hardly MPVs, but they do offer slightly more rear space.
Chopping the roof off a coupe usually makes it less fun to drive. Not here. BMW has kept the 8 Series Convertible super stiff thanks in part to the use of carbon fibre in its construction.
At least the 8 Series’ boot is on a par with the Bentley and Mercedes at 350 litres, although that’s with its fabric roof up. With it down (which takes just 15 seconds up to 31mph) some of that space is robbed to store it. So, where a large suitcase plus some soft bags will fit on a rainy day, you’ll have to rethink your outfits if you want the wind in your hair.
And you will, especially if you go for the 530hp M850i petrol which sounds superb with its sports exhaust when testing its staggering 3.2 second 0-62mph sprint time. The only other engine option is a 320hp 840d diesel, which, being a diesel, sounds far less engaging. It’s still fast though (0-62mph arrives in 5.2 seconds) and will use a lot less fuel. All things considered, it’s the cheaper diesel that makes the most sense, but keen drivers with a large fuel budget will love the petrol’s added theatre.
Open top cars (especially big ones like the 8 Series) are usually noticeably less rigid to drive than cars with roofs, because quite literally there’s nothing solid connecting them up top. This normally results in some shuddering through the body over bumps, but not here, because you’d struggle to tell any difference in comfort at low speeds around town.
And the same goes on a country road, where the Convertible’s standard all-wheel drive and rear wheel steering help it feel just as agile as the 8 Series Coupe. Particularly the M850i, where BMW’s M division has been involved in its suspension, plus it gets a clever differential for better distribution of power to the road.
Then, when you aren’t in the mood, roof-closed the 8 Series Convertible remains quiet on the motorway too, making it a thoroughly well-rounded car. It’s high-quality, has great tech, is relaxing to drive but also fun when you want it to be. It even looks good value next to the Bentley and Mercedes. That is, of course, relatively speaking.
Indeed, the 8 Series Convertible certainly requires deep pockets (even deeper if you go for the petrol version) and there are more spacious open-top GT cars, but if you have the budget and don’t need the space, the 8 Series Convertible makes a superb open-top GT.