BMW M850i picks up the the original left off.
20 years ago, a BMW 8 Series was the by-word for fast, powerful, gentlemen’s touring.
It was classy and sophisticated, and its unique wedge shape was seen in all the right places, the haunts of the well-heeled. Even now, when you think of that car, you imagine sipping champagne, in a tux, leaning against the balcony at the Opera House.
The new 8 Series brings back that Hollywood glamour, and matches it with M level performance. It is, quite simply, magnificent.
Set against the backdrop a leafy inner Sydney suburb high above glittering Sydney Harbour, BMW revealed the newest German muscle car-come-GT. A coupe and convertible M850i sat with a mint original 8 Series coupe in between.
As well as M850i xDrive coming with or without a roof, as the name suggests, it has All-Wheel-Drive.
The muscular bodywork starts with an aggressive front end. An elongated kidney grille and laser headlights that shine 500m ahead, dominate a sexy visage that looks like it wants to spank you.
The GT looks are further enhanced as you move along the deeply sculptured doors, to the long, low rear end. It sits on 20” wheels, and has a bulging bootlid that is is electric, and fully hands free.
You vudn’t vant to scratch it viss yourr rink darlinks.
The rear end has a lot going on with wafer-thin trails of light that have a touch of “Vegas-at-Night” about them. They swirl as if the vortices formed during the big bang were giving birth to reflectors, and chromed exhausts. Even with the lights off, the pert rump sparkles like diamonds.
Jewellery is important. It gives an outfit distinctive flare.
The jewellery continues as you move up top. Carbon fibre forms a sexy double bubble roof, keeping occupants of the coupe cosy and safe. Like the proverbial LBD, the convertible is replete with its classic black soft top that is insulated against unwanted noise and temperature intrusions.
It completes operations in a mere 15 seconds at speeds of up to an impressive 50kph. If you fancy even more bling, you can opt for an Anthracite Silver Effect cloth that shimmers like a Dior gown.
The top stows itself into a compartment topped with a cover to match the car’s interior
The cabin fairly drips with luxury. It has been lavished with every conceivable convenience money can buy. Leather “Merino” upholstery covers the heated sports seats. The convertible has additional heaters at neck height to keep you warm, even with the roof down on a chilly winter day.
The 8 Series will be seen on posters just like the original was. A handsome Burberry-capped couple, whizzing down a shaded country lane with a trail of dried leaves whipped into a frenzied veil behind.
The windows are up but the roof is down, and baby its cold outside.
The cabin looks like a modern take on classic luggage from The Blue Train.
It is accessed with smart-entry, so they key need never leave your pocket. Just giving the handle a genteel pull to open, and even softer push to close it. There is a genuine sense of hand-built quality on every surface.
Buttons and knobs feel solid, and top notch. Like an old LV travel trunk, there are touches of wood and metal too.
“Crafter Clarity” glass embellishments include an illuminated “8” just in case you forget where you are. You can change the colour of the ambient lighting too, if the mood takes you.
My nephew will have set at “Tron Blue” before you can say ,”may the force be with you.” He likes a nice bag of mixed metaphors.
Like all the top shelf BMWs, the 8 Series has cutting edge technology to connect the car to the driver, the road, and the rest of the world.
In fact, it is so smart, it uses satellite data to pre-empt gear changes.
i-Drive 7 is the latest iteration of infotainment.
Earlier generations of iDrive had horribly complex menus with the voice control of a haughty mother superior. It displays vehicle status and other vital data wherever you want it. It is controlled by either the tasteful command centre between the front seats, or the touch screen on the centre stack.
There is also gesture control for some of the functions if you really feel the need. I promise you will feel like a complete plonker as you wave your fingers like a demented magician.
To that end, BMW voice control now (allegedly) has “natural recognition” and the navigation is more intuitive with speed sign information. The car will read the sign and present the speed in the driver’s cluster and in the Heads-Up Display. It will set the Cruise to that speed if you like.
Apple CarPlay operates wirelessly. Hoorah!
Using the car’s system of navigation will usually trump CarPlay because of the way phones handle incoming calls during CarPlay navigation. You often find yourself trying to get back to navigation manually.
The more calls you get, the more faffing about you have to do. However, Siri will be handling your messaging and calls handsfree. She will even play you best tunes, as long as you’re in cell range.
There are screens in front of the driver, and on the centre stack which are complimented by a “heads up” display on the windscreen. You can customise information content, and the way it is displayed. You can mute some of the input if you tire of driving like you’re piloting a fighter jet.
Cameras and radar dotted are around the exterior. There is night vision mode, and a system to allow the car to drive itself. Naturally, in Australia you have to keep your hands on the wheel, at least for now.
Active features will help you avoid accidents by steering clear of obstacles, braking, and raising roll bars if an accident can’t be prevented.
Many of these features help the driver during normal operation, but some will come in to action only during an extreme event. If the M850i can’t avoid an accident, it will help to mitigate the outcome.
There is a full compliment of stability controls too.
Everything is managed by computers which monitor performance and handling. Although the modern car watches over occupants like a nanny, the driver is always in control. Sometimes she can be too intrusive. Nothing replaces good, careful, attentive, driving.
The heart of any GT car is the engine.
A Twin-turbo 4.4 V8 Petrol powers all four wheels through an 8-speed sport-automatic. 390kw is more than adequate, but the 750Nm torque can only be described as monumental. With those big figures, comes a very small one, 3.7seconds. That’s how quickly the M850i will leap to 100kph from the traffic lights. Don’t do it too often or men in blue will come.
The convertible is a trifle slower at 3.9 seconds thanks to the extra weight courtesy of additional body strengthening.
Both models get extra rigidity, thanks to the BMW Carbon Core transmission tunnel that also reduces weight. It allows “optimised” suspension geometry giving the M850i superb ride and handling. The 8 Series is a large GT car rather than a small, sporty, track focused car. BMW already has plenty of those.
M850i, is instead, a big comfortable cruiser capable of crossing continents in one luxurious bound. Having said all that, you’ll find yourself wanting to dally. You’ll explore the countryside, lunch in little forgotten spots, and picnic in fields.
It rivals the British Aston Martin, Italy’s Maserati, and Germany’s own Mercedes S Class coupe.
M enhancements include an M Sport electronic rear mounted differential, and M Performance adaptive suspension. Active anti-roll stabilisation and Integral Active Steering make the car stable and agile at all speeds. If that all sounds too much, just enjoy the car and forget about what’s under the sexy skin.
Sadly, this static display didn’t allow for anything other than looking, sitting, and touching. The drive will come later.
Standard features include:
- Eight-speed Steptronic Sport Automatic Transmission
- BMW xDrive all-wheel drive system
- 20-inch M light alloy wheels Y-spoke style 728 M Bicolour Cerium Grey with performance tyres
- M Sport Brakes
- M Sport Differential
- M Seat belts (NCO)
- Adaptive M Suspension Professional with:
- Integral Active Steering
- Active anti-roll stabilisation
- M Carbon Roof (Coupe)
- Black soft top (Convertible)
- M Rear Spoiler (Coupe)
- Comfort Access
- Wireless Smartphone Charging
- Soft Close Doors
- BMW ‘CraftedClarity’ Glass Application
- Driving Assistant Professional
- Parking Assistant Plus, including Rear View Camera, 3D View and Reverse Assistant
- BMW Laselights
- Connected Package Professional, including:
- Remote services,
- Real-time Traffic Information
- Apple CarPlay
- Concierge Services
- BMW Live Cockpit Professional, including:
- 3-inch instrument cluster, 10.25-inch Control Display, BMW Head-Up Display and Gesture Control
- BMW Night Vision Camera with Pedestrian Recognition
- BMW Air Collar Neck Warmer (Convertible only)
- BMW Individual Metallic Paintwork
- BMW Individual Leather Merino Upholstery
- Heat Comfort Package
- Front heated door/console armrests and steering wheel
- Heated front seats
There are times when all you want to do is get from A to B, but there is no reason why you can’t do it in comfort. BMW has put a lot of effort into creating a uniquely styled, luxury coupe/convertible. The driver can choose how much protection is offered by the on-board systems.
Preferences can be tailored and saved in driver profiles.
It is perfection.
- BMW M850i xDrive Coupe $272,900
- BMW M850i xDrive Convertible $281,900
Engine:- 4.4 twin turbo V8
Drive wheels:- xDrive AWD