Car Reviews

2019 BMW M8 Competition Coupe review

Paul Horrell’s BMW M8 Competition Review 2019 With Price, Specs, Performance, Ride And Handling, Interior, Ownership, Verdict And Score.

2019 BMW M8 Competition Coupe spec

Price N/A Warranty 3years/ unlimited km Engine 4.4L petrol V8 turbo Power 460kW at 6000rpm Torque 750Nm at 1800-5800rpm Transmission 8-speed auto Drive all-wheel drive Body 4867mm (l); 1907mm (w exc mirrors); 2137mm (w inc mirrors); 1362mm (h) Turning circle 12.2m Kerb weight 1885kg Seats 2+2 Fuel tank 68 litres Spare No Thirst 10.5–10.6 l/100km combined cycle

Comprehensive Car Insurance

IN A NUTSHELL: Here’s the fastest BMW of all. It’s not really a track-biased car (though it’ll lap fast) but a super-powerful luxury cruiser that’ll do twists when you ask it to.

2019 BMW M8 Competition Coupe review

The 8-series is BMW’s biggest, grandest grand tourer, and it normally comes with four-wheel-drive and a big V8. The luxury cabin is swaddled in fancy leather, and pretty much the whole all of BMW’s vast suite of technology is fitted as standard.

The 8-series body is a two-door coupe, but a big one. The lines are swaggering and angular – there’s little attempt at the elegance or classical beauty of history’s best-loved GTs.

Now BMW M has got hold of the 8-series and wound up the wick. It has replaced a whole lot of the running gear with the stuff under the M5. This means a unique-to-M V8 making vast power and revving high, plus all-new suspension arms and dampers, and a four-wheel-drive system that controls the locking of both the centre and rear diffs. What it doesn’t have is the regular 8-series’ four-wheel steering, because the M guys say their AWD system can achieve similar results.

WHAT’S THE BMW M8 INTERIOR LIKE?

It’s a coupe, so a snug place. But not cramped for the people in the two lavishly appointed super-supportive front seats you can move and re-shape every whichway. They even adjust for backrest width. Out the back, small children will be cupped into the +2 seats, but it’s not for anyone beyond adolescence. There are two sets of Isofix points back there.

You probably won’t need the back seats for luggage, as the boot is 420 litres. Its opening isn’t that big, but the rear seat backrests do flop forward.

The interior is trimmed in wildly lavish style – posh leathers over every padded surface, immaculately and decoratively stitched. Jewelled with metal and crystal. Garnished in carbonfibre.

But the thing is, you can get that on any BMW from the 1-series upwards. The instruments and controls are the same, so see our tests of the X5, 3-series, 6GT, and even the 1-series for more details.

The fact that the cabin holds so few surprises, and almost the entire control and instrument interface is shared with a compact hatchback, means it seems less special than say an Aston Martin. But it sure as heck works better.

Actually, the M8 does make the odd change. While the instrument panel, iDrive screen, and standard head up display show the normal BMW layout in normal conditions, you can press a button marked M Mode. This switches the instrument and HUD layouts to prioritise revs and gear selection, plus track-biased info such as oil temp and g-loads.

Double-press M Mode and it switches to ‘track’ which deactivates the driver aids such as lane assist and auto braking. So your steering won’t be corrupted just as you clip the apex of a quick sweeper, and you won’t be prevented from out-braking someone into the chicane. Like you do.

There are also a pair of tumescent red buttons on the steering wheel, labelled M1 and M2. These are shortcuts to two separate setups you can store. Setups being a combination of settings (from among two or three choices) of engine aggression, transmission shift pattern, damping, torque distribution, stability control, steering weight and even the sharpness of the brake pedal response.

WHAT’S THE BMW M8 INFOTAINMENT LIKE?

The iDrive is BMW’s standard post-2018 iteration, so you’ll forgive us if you’ve heard this before.

The central screen is now touch-sensitive, so you can use that to navigate the menus. But the circular controller lives on, hurrah, as it’s still the best way to make many inputs, especially on the move.

The screen also has configurable layout tiles, so you can arrange a home-screen to better suit yourself.

We also like the fact what are apparently radio station buttons can also be configured to shortcut to pretty well any part of the menu system – favourite phone numbers or navigation destinations, or other menus and info. And the climate control, bar really obscure functions, is all done by hardware buttons and knobs.

CarPlay is standard if you don’t care for the native system, and it operates wirelessly via bluetooth, so you can keep your phone in your pocket or on the wireless charge pad. The standard stereo is a Harman Kardon setup that sounds good. Optional is a Bowers & Wilkins system that has tremendous depth and space and punch. But it suffers from harsh, metallic treble.

WHAT’S THE BMW M8 PERFORMANCE LIKE?

At the risk of stating the obvious, 460kW and all-wheel drive make for startling performance from a standstill. Keep your foot pegged and it’ll be beyond the legal limit in 3.2 seconds, the transmission flicking the upchanges as the engine rockets to 7200rpm.

It’s not just a brutally powerful V8 though. It also swings in with big torque from pretty low down the rev range, and lag is mostly gone by 3000. Mostly.

It isn’t an engine of nervy, knife-sharp reactions. It’s one where the forward impulsion is bigger but arrives with a slower build-up. You’re not flicking a switch, you’re turning on a tap.

The auto transmission operates pretty instinctively and shifts smoothly in the normal modes. But you can ramp up shift revs, and the physical intensity of shifts, via the endless configuration options.

A button with a picture of exhaust tips gives you control over the noise. Press it and a flap opens in the exhaust, at lower revs than otherwise. Although it doesn’t actually give any extra ultimate power. In any case, even with the flaps open, this isn’t a crazy loud car: it’s fruity and serious but no more than that.

If you’re a fan of rock’n’roll V8s, you’d want a rival AMG Mercedes. If you want to feel sociable and discreet, this will make you less guilty.

WHAT’S THE BMW M8 LIKE TO DRIVE ON THE ROAD?

Its somewhere between a big luxury GT and a top-end sports car.

The grip is colossal and the brakes strong, the steering precise – more so than in the M5 actually. Most of the time the springs and dampers contain body motions as it passes over dips and crests.

But compare those characteristics with say a Porsche 911, Audi R8 or Nissan GT-R or AMG GT, and its character is more soft-edged. That’s partly because it is so enormously heavy, and also because it’s actually set up to be refined over big distances. It doesn’t go too far away from the luxury GT character, and that’s probably sensible of BMW because that’s surely how buyers will use it.

Still, work it really hard and it does come out to play. You can stick the 4WD system into a sport mode that shuffles torque rearward, and loosen the traction control to an intermediate mode. Then it’ll squirm its tail as you nail it out of a bend, and provided you counter-steer the stability net won’t kick in.

There’s also a ‘track-only’ mode that entirely removes stability control and sends all the drive rearward. Insurance companies must love that.

The brakes are strong. Like several of BMW’s new top-end models, it uses a by-wire brake system. A sensor looks at your pedal input and arranges pressure on the pads accordingly. That means it can compensate for fade, and operate each wheel brake independently to keep the car stable. Uniquely for this M car, you can choose two levels of response – sharp for lively driving, smoother for urban work. To be honest, the difference isn’t that big, and probably shouldn’t be. Don’t want to be surprised by a pedal that doesn’t do what you were expecting.

The ride isn’t too jittery at all, as the dampers soften off to allow it to take the edge off sharp bumps. But it’s still pretty firm compared with saloons, as it needs to be to hold itself in place when cornering hard.

HOW SAFE IS THE BMW M8?

Basically, you can have everything BMW offers. That includes emergency autonomous braking systems, blind spot detection, lane departure warning and a system that nudges you back in lane if you move into the path of another vehicle.

To ease long highway drives, an optional package (might be standard in Oz) adds active cruise control that re-sets your speed as you pass new limit signs, active lane keeping that traces the centre of the lane even as the road curves, and front crossing traffic warning. Among others…

The optional laserlights throw an incredibly searching beam into an outback night.


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Paul Horrell

Paul Horrell

Paul's working life has been paced out in cars. He began road-testing when the VW Golf was in its second generation. It's now in its eighth. He covers much more than the tyre-smoking part of the road-test landscape. He roots around in the financial machinations of the car corporations and the apparent voodoo of the technologies. Then he clarifies those complications so his general readers – too busy to lodge their heads up the industry's nether regions – get the fast track on what matters and what doesn't. A freelance writer living in London, he usually gets around the city by bicycle, which adds to his (sometimes justified) reputation as a bit green and a bit of a lefty. He's a member of Europe's Car of the Year jury.