Thursday 14th November 2019
Car Enthusiast - click here to access the home page

 



First drive: BMW M8 Competition. Image by BMW AG.

First drive: BMW M8 Competition
Powerful GT or luxurious sports car? The BMW M8 can be anything you want it to be.

 



<< earlier review     later review >>

Reviews homepage -> BMW reviews

BMW M8 Competition

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5

BMW's first-ever M8 is characterised by the seemingly bewildering number of ways its buyers can customise the car. And we're not even talking about the three body styles. Regardless of whether you go for the M8 Coupe, Convertible or Gran Coupe, it promises to be a car worthy of long journeys and short blasts in equal measure.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: BMW M8 Competition Coupe
Pricing: starts at 123,435
Engine: 4.4-litre twin-turbocharged V8 petrol
Transmission: eight-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
Body style: two-door, four-seat coupe
CO2 emissions: 242g/km (VED Band 226-255: 1,815 in year one)
Combined economy: 26.6mpg
Top speed: 155mph (limiter may be lifted to 190mph)
0-62mph: 3.2 seconds
Power: 625hp at 6,000rpm
Torque: 750Nm at 1,800-5,800rpm
Boot space: 420 litres

Model tested: BMW M8 Competition Convertible
Pricing: starts at 130,435
Engine: 4.4-litre twin-turbocharged V8 petrol
Transmission: eight-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
Body style: two-door, four-seat convertible
CO2 emissions: 246g/km (VED Band 226-255: 1,815 in year one)
Combined economy: 26.1mpg
Top speed: 155mph (limiter may be lifted to 190mph)
0-62mph: 3.3 seconds
Power: 625hp at 6,000rpm
Torque: 750Nm at 1,800-5,800rpm
Boot space: 350 litres

What's this?

The very latest M-car and actually, the daddy of the whole BMW M range at the time of writing; this is the 2020 BMW M8. We've driven it in Coupe and Convertible guises at its initial launch, though BMW has already confirmed that an M8 Gran Coupe is joining the line-up. In some markets, the M8 is sold as an 'entry-level' 600hp version, but British buyers will only have the higher specification Competition variants to choose from. Hardly a hardship...

This M8 has taken the core 8 Series and given it even more muscle than you'll find on the M850i model. The M8 has the usual M identifiers, such as the treatment of the front grille, large air intakes in the front bumper, unique mirrors and a quad exhaust system, but it also gets wider arches (am I the only one seeing a hint at box arches from the '80s in the surfacing near the bonnet shut line?), a carbon roof (not on the Convertible, natch) and a dinky little spoiler at the back. Those enlarged wings cover big bespoke alloys and a wider track.

Inside, you'll find M-striped belts for the gorgeous sports seats, a bright red finish for the driving mode and engine-start buttons, bespoke gearchange paddles and shifter, plenty of unique menus and displays in the two-screen dashboard, and a few new buttons in the carbon fibre-themed centre console.

Underneath, the M8 is a lot like the M5 Competition. That means a 625hp tune of the mighty twin-turbocharged 4.4-litre V8 up front, bolted to BMW M's take on the company's excellent eight-speed automatic gearbox. That, in turn, feeds the M xDrive all-wheel-drive system. By way of reminder, the control of the centre differential, rear Active M differential and the stability control system are all integrated in one unit, aiming to deliver a car that feels rear-wheel drive in its responses, with extra traction when needed.

Prices for the BMW M8 start at 120,935 for the Gran Coupe, rising to 123,435 for the two-door Coupe. Add another seven grand for the Convertible. They're all very well-equipped, as you'd hope given the rivalry from Audi, Mercedes-AMG and even Aston Martin.

How does it drive?

That, as has been the way for BMW M cars for some time now, depends rather on how you choose. In fact, the M8 adds even more layers to the whole drive customisation vibe BMW has going on. Press the 'SETUP' button on the new centre console and a refreshingly simple menu pops up on the touchscreen showing each sub-system's mode and allowing you to quickly tweak the settings. Choose from Efficient, Sport or Sport Plus for the engine; Comfort, Sport or Sport Plus for the adaptive damping; Comfort or Sport for the Servotronic steering and brakes (yup, that's a new one); and last, but certainly not least, 4WD, 4WD Sport or 2WD for the all-wheel drive.

Oh, and before we go into what they all feel like, the driver can also turn off the dynamic stability control completely or use the wonderful M Dynamic mode, a mid-way setting that makes you feel like a hero behind the wheel, while knowing there's still an electronic safety net nearby should you run out of talent... That's not the end of the personalisation, either, as a new 'M MODE' button allows the driver to change from the default Road setting to Sport or Track, each tweaking comfort and driver assistance systems to suit. In Track mode, the audio system and touchscreen are even disabled for minimum distraction. Meanwhile, the transmission has three levels for its Drivelogic, separate to the normal or Sport modes and, of course, the option to change gears manually.

Now, don't expect the M8 to be a quiet shrinking violet, even if you turn everything down to Comfort and Efficient. This is an M car after all. Still, it's a cinch to drive slowly (assuming you're not grappling with stop-start traffic with the engine set to its razor-sharp Sport Plus mode) and the huge mid-range thump from that V8 means a swift pace requires very little effort when on a long cruise. The suspension is firm, and the tyres can pick up on every surface imperfection, but the M8 is still a relatively comfortable way to cover a lot of ground quickly. It doesn't feel any less comfortable than the M850i, for example.

Indeed, you'll need a racetrack to fully explore the M8's talents, as the performance feels on a different level to everyday driving. A 3.2-second 0-62mph time in a car that weighs as much as this should hint at how fast the M8 feels. And it's even more impressive in the midrange, where the car piles on speed between corners in a rather senior fashion.

No surprise, therefore, that BMW fitted the optional carbon ceramic brakes to our test cars for hot laps of the Portimao race circuit. They were unflappable there and on a challenging mountain road later in the day. Those and the standard 'M compound' brakes get selectable two-stage brake feel. This was made possible by the 8 Series' 'integrated brake system' and it certainly works, but I'm not sold on the idea.

Nonetheless, the M8 did impress on track. BMW M has comprehensively overhauled the core 8 Series chassis, increasing stiffness while reducing unsprung mass, increasing the track widths and lowering the roll centre. The result is a big car that feels completely at home on the track. The outright grip, traction and body control are exceptional, but we expected that. What surprised was the playfulness of the chassis on the limit and the communication through the steering system to the driver's hands.

The M8 is huge fun to drive quickly in this situation and while lurid power slides are a mere ankle flex away in the full-on rear-wheel-drive mode (DSC is off when you choose this), it's possible to exit corners at a satisfyingly rear-lead angle even in the 4WD modes, with gratifying adjustment of the cornering line possible through the throttle. Back on the road, there's rarely room for such antics, so the M8 instead scythes through bends neatly, covering ground at quite a ludicrous pace.

Interestingly, though the M8 Convertible weighs 125kg more than the Coupe, it feels just as tied down and competent and, well, downright speedy. Just with more noise and wind in your hair.

Verdict

When BMW kicked its new 8 Series range off with the M850i range-topper, we had doubts about how it would much of a gap BMW M could create between it and this new M8. Having now tested the M8 Coupe and Convertible, it's clear that it knows just what it's doing. Ignore all the numbers and get yourself behind the wheel of an M8, and you won't be looking further down the range again.

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Exterior Design

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Interior Ambience

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Passenger Space

4 4 4 4 4 Luggage Space

5 5 5 5 5 Safety

4 4 4 4 4 Comfort

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Driving Dynamics

5 5 5 5 5 Powertrain


Shane O'Donoghue - 15 Oct 2019









  www.bmw.co.uk    - BMW road tests
- BMW videos
- BMW news
- 8 Series images

2019 BMW M8 Competition Coupe. Image by BMW AG.2019 BMW M8 Competition Coupe. Image by BMW AG.2019 BMW M8 Competition Coupe. Image by BMW AG.2019 BMW M8 Competition Coupe. Image by BMW AG.2019 BMW M8 Competition Coupe. Image by BMW AG.

2019 BMW M8 Competition Coupe. Image by BMW AG.2019 BMW M8 Competition Coupe. Image by BMW AG.2019 BMW M8 Competition Coupe. Image by BMW AG.2019 BMW M8 Competition Coupe. Image by BMW AG.2019 BMW M8 Competition Coupe. Image by BMW AG.








 

Internal links:   | Home | Privacy | Contact us | Archives | Follow Car Enthusiast on Twitter | Copyright 1999-2019 ©