2019 BMW 8-Series Review
Toby Hagon’s 2019 BMW M850i Review With Price, Specs, Performance, Ride And Handling, Ownership, Safety, Verdict And Score.
In a nutshell: Return of an iconic BMW nameplate brings pace and grace in a styling (and sizeable) two-door.
2019 BMW 8-Series Specifications
Price $272,900+ORCs Warranty 3 years, unlimited km Service Intervals Variable Safety Not rated Engine 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 Power 390kW at 5500-6000rpm Torque 750Nm at 1800-4600rpm Transmission 8-speed auto Drive Four-wheel drive Dimensions 4851mm (L), 1902mm (W), 1346mm (H), 2822mm (WB) Kerb Weight 1890kg Towing NA Boot Space 420L Spare Repair kit Fuel Tank 68L Thirst 9.8L/100km
It’s been 20 years since BMW offered an 8-Series, the pinnacle of the brand’s two-door range. Effectively stepping in for the 6-Series, the 8-Series Coupe and Cabriolet also go into battle with the big guns of the luxury two-door class, from the Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe to the more expensive Bentley Continental GT and Aston Martin DB11. Key to its appeal is seductive styling, V8 performance and a luxurious cabin that is lavishly appointed.
What’s in the range and how much does it cost? For now there’s a single M850i model, priced from $272,900 as a Coupe and $281,900 as a Convertible. The 850i is powered by a twin-turbo V8 driving all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission.
It’s also lavished with equipment, including 20-inch alloy wheels, a head-up display, satellite-navigation, Merino leather, night vision, smart key entry, soft-close doors (that suck themselves closed), wireless phone charging, heated and ventilated front seats, digital radio tuning and a terrific 16-speaker Harman Kardon sound system, as well as much, much more. BMW Connected Drive also allows monitoring and unlocking of the car remotely via a smartphone app.
There’s also Apple CarPlay – including the ability to operate them wirelessly, although to keep them working after the first year of ownership you have to pay a $179 annual subscription (no other car maker charges for the ongoing use of these connectivity systems).
Down the track, expect an even more powerful M8 model as well as an 8-Series Gran Coupe, with added rear doors.
What’s the interior and practicality like? Things are all quite low in the M850i, with the exception of the window line, which sits quite high to reinforce that sensation you’re cocooned in something with intent.
While the emphasis is on front seat space and comfort – there’s lashings of each – those in the rear are also blessed with deep, cossetting bucket seats. With long-legged adults up front, though, leg room is at a premium in the rear.
Speaking of premium, BMW has thrown a lot of jewellery at the 8-Series to help it live up to the Bentley-rivalling expectations (and the price!). Basics include liberal applications of stitching for the leather and ambient lighting. There’s also knurling on various dials, including the iDrive controller and smaller volume knob. Plus the stubby gear selector has a crystal-like finish with the number 8 reflecting off its sharp-cut surfaces.
BMW M blue and red stripes on the seatbelts complete the thoughtful touches that reinforce you’re in something special. While they’re almost identical, the Convertible picks up a heating system blowing hot air from the head rests and gets a different roof lining. It loses the Alcantara roof finish, instead making do with a fabric finish that still looks classy.
What are the controls and infotainment like? Interacting with the 8 can be done with voice or the terrific iDrive system that quickly gets you to the menu you’re chasing on the 10.25-inch screen. There’s even gesture control for the Coupe, allowing basic functions such as volume adjustments and answering a phone call by swiping your hands.
It’s tricky stuff, although not available in the Convertible because the camera that detects the hand movements is stored near the rear vision mirror in the roof, and there’s not enough room in the drop-top. Programmable buttons in the centre console can be set to make phone calls or for favourite audio channels. There’s also plenty of info in the digital instrument cluster, too, one that prioritises the speedo and tacho around its outer edges.
A head-up display provides key information on a virtual place above the bonnet, although it’s foiled by polarised sunglasses. All of which makes it easy to get information and change settings. There’s an exception to the familiar and functional layout, and that’s with the buttons to operate the exterior lights. It’s partially shielded by the thick rim of the steering wheel, meaning you’ll have to duck and weave to see around it.
Those wanting to stay in touch with their car can keep up with the BMW Connected app, which shows everything from where the car is parked to how much fuel is in the tank and when a service is due.
What’s the performance like? Wow, what a difference a bit of engineering effort can make when it comes to sound. BMW has clearly spent plenty of time tuning the exhaust system of the M850i, which departs with a purposeful crack and throaty bark when watching the car disappear into the distance. It’s the best sounding BMW V8 to date, the noise much closer to rival AMG in its intensity and purpose.
It’s more muted in the cabin, which is a shame, the emphasis on luxury rather than overt sportiness. But there’s still enough to reinforce it’s a V8. You’re left in no doubt with performance, the familiar 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 amassing a full 390kW and 750Nm. It’s the torque that arrives from 1800rpm that cements the immense low-rev pull of the M850i.
The eight-speed auto also does a terrific job of showcasing that torque, while still allowing swift upshifts and higher revs when called upon. Channelling through all four wheels also ensures there’s no chance of wheelspin, the V8’s full fury faithfully making it groundward.
The dash to 100km/h takes just 3.7 seconds (or 3.9 seconds for the Convertible, courtesy of the additional 125kg it’s carrying), and once you’re in licence-losing territory there’s no sign it’s about to slow up. This is a car that could brilliantly benefit from the lack of speed control of a German autobahn, its wonderful relaxed flexibility and pace up to some seriously high-speed tasks.
That the engine maintains its enthusiasm all the way to its redline it testament to the flexibility of one of the world’s great V8s. All of which can use plenty of premium unleaded, with claimed consumption of 9.8 litres per 100km, or 10.6L/100km for the Convertible.
What’s it like on the road? The original 8-Series was big and heavy and copped criticism for it. The new model is bigger and heavier, although the difference is it has a lot more pull and more maturity to its chassis setup to help it better deal with the kilos.
Of which there are plenty, the Coupe tipping the scales at 1890kg and the Convertible at 2015kg. None of which can be completely masked, the 8-Series capable but far from dainty on brisk direction changes, its sizeable 20-inch Michelin rubber put to the test.
Fortunately, there’s phenomenal grip from the tyres (245mm wide up front and 275mm at the rear), and all-wheel drive helps with attacking corners confidently. There’s also a four-wheel steering system, which adds cornering stability above 80km/h by steering the rear wheels in the same direction as the fronts (below that speed they steer in the opposite direction to improve low speed manouvreabilty).
Some tautness to the suspension that means you’ll jiggle around on second grade roads, but dial up Comfort to soften the dampers and settle in for the ride and it’s a very accomplished grand tourer. Some remoteness to the steering detracts from some of the tactility many yearn for in a sports car, although the sheer cornering competence makes up for it. Plus, it’s accurate and direct, any inputs rewarded with an assertive change of direction.
Brakes, too, are powerful and effective, sizeable M Sport calipers arresting things confidently. While the sound of rain pinging off the soft-top is more pronounced than the Coupe’s carbon fibre lid, the Convertible is otherwise beautifully shielded from outside noises. The Convertible also feels suitably taut, its hefty bracing that adds 125kg doing the job to minimise twisting.
Does it have a spare? There’s no spare tyre, with a repair kit included instead. Tyre pressure sensors warn of an early puncture or leak. Interestingly, whereas many BMWs employ runflat tyres (which can be driven on for short distances after a puncture), the 8-Series has regular rubber, chosen for its dynamic properties and, no doubt, to improve the ride, which can suffer from the extra weight of runflats.
Can you tow with it? No, the 8-Series is not designed to tow.
What about ownership? The 8-Series is covered by BMW’s three-year, unlimited kilometre warranty. While there are no plans to increase that, Australian Consumer Law will typically cover you for longer, and the local boss of BMW says customers are generally looked after beyond the warranty period. Exactly how long that generosity lasts is not clear… Servicing, too, is a bit of a how-long-is-a-piece-of-string deal, because BMW doesn’t have set service intervals. Instead, the car monitors how it’s being driven – and how often – and alerts the driver when it’s time for fresh oil and a check-up. The M850i servicing cost is $2290 for the first five years or 80,000km.
What safety features does it have? The 8-Series gets the expected front and side airbag protection (there are eight airbags in total, including knee protection up front) as part of a comprehensive safety story.
A forward-facing camera and radar also keep an eye on other road users, with the ability to perform full emergency brakes without driver intervention. It’s the start of a comprehensive suite of active safety gear that also incudes speed limit recognition, lane keeping and steering assistance and cross traffic warning front and rear (the rear functionality is common on mainstream cars, but frontal cross traffic alert is still rare).