First drive: BMW 8 Series 2019 review 

Moving Well | Tim Nicholson | Posted on 10 May 2019

Tim Nicholson drives the new 2019 BMW M850i coupe.


First impressions:

BMW’s stunning new 8 Series takes its place at the top of the company’s model range.

 

The original BMW 8 Series may have lasted only nine years from 1990 to 1999, but it achieved legendary status and it remains a design icon for the brand. 

Last year, BMW announced that it would resurrect the famed 8 Series badge for a new generation, and as the brand’s flagship model. 

A coupe and convertible were announced first, while the four-door Gran Coupe version was confirmed later and is expected to have its global reveal in June. The 8 Series is larger than the 6 Series coupe, convertible and Gran Coupe that ended production last year.

The sole variants to hit Australian shores for now are the M Performance M850i twins, priced from $272,900 plus on-road costs for the hard-top coupe and $281,900 for the drop-top convertible. A fire-breathing M8 variant is also on the cards and it will be offered in all three body styles. Australian timing is yet to be confirmed.

At the launch at Mitchelton Wines, 90 minutes north of Melbourne, we only drove the coupe, but also drooled over the convertible. When it was revealed in June last year, BMW was praised for the 8 Series’ sleek and sexy design, and in the metal it is gob-smackingly stunning.

It looks overly long and wide, because it is. The coupe measures up at 4851 millimetres long, which is just shy of Holden’s VF Commodore large sedan, but the BMW is wider. It sits low to the ground and has road presence that sets it apart from the rest, even in this price bracket. It is a design triumph.

An orange BMW coupe 850i facing forwards as it drives down a road with hilly, dry surrounds

BMW clearly spent just as much time crafting an ultra-modern, ultra-luxurious interior as they did on the exterior. Taking some inspiration from the original 8 Series, the new version features a driver-oriented cockpit fitted with the latest tech, such as a 12.3-inch customisable digital instrument cluster, a 10.25-inch control display housing infotainment features, adaptive navigation, a 20GB hard drive, two USB ports and wireless charging.

It feels super luxurious, thanks to a leather-covered instrument panel, BMW ‘CraftedClarity’ glass applications on the gear shifter and iDrive controller, and high-grade leather trim, while the convertible gets an Air Collar for warming the front occupants’ necks when the top is down.

BMW, however, is keen to remind us that the 8 Series is not just a luxury cruiser – it’s a bruiser too. Under the bonnet is a 4.4-litre twin turbocharged V8 petrol engine pumping out an impressive 390kW of power and 750Nm of torque.

Hearing the glorious engine and exhaust note is a joy only matched by the phenomenal performance of that engine. Acceleration is brutally quick in a straight line – BMW says the coupe can dash from 0-100kmh in just 3.7 seconds – but it can tackle twisty roads like a car half its size. It’s a feat of engineering that something this big feels as light as it does on the road.

A close up of the rear of an orangey-red BMW 850i coupe
Interior shot of front seat and console in BMW 850i coupe with red trim
A orange-red BMW 850i coupe drives on a road lined with gum trees

The double-wishbone front and five-link rear suspension is paired with BMW’s adaptive suspension system and the 8 Series benefits from a limited slip differential and all-wheel drive.

All of this helps the 8 stick to the tarmac and feel incredibly planted, while offering a surprisingly compliant and comfortable ride. ‘Sporty’ and ‘comfortable’ are not words that usually go together when describing a German performance car, but BMW has achieved just that.

For many more vehicle reviews, including the Audi A5 and Mercedes Benz E300 Cabriolet, visit royalauto.com.au, as well as a full review of the 8 Series in coming months.

BMW M850i coupe

PRICE

 

Price as tested: $272,900 plus approximately $19,000 on-road costs.

Model range: $272,900 to $281,900.

DRIVETRAIN

4.4-litre twin-turbocharged V8, eight-speed automatic, all-wheel drive. 

Power: 390kW@5500-6000rpm.

Torque: 750Nm@1800-4600rpm.

Tyres: 245/35 R20 95Y XL front and 275/30 R20 97Y XL rear.

FUEL

95 RON petrol, 68-litre tank.

Consumption: 10.4 to 10.6L/100km (government test).

Emissions: 238 to 243g/km CO2.

STANDARD SAFETY

Tyre-pressure monitor, eight airbags, M Sport brakes, speed limiter, adaptive cruise control, front and rear cross-traffic alert, lane-keeping assistant with side-collision warning, crossroads warning and evasion aid.

STANDARD FEATURES

Wireless smartphone charging, soft-close doors, heating package (heats front seats, door, console armrests and steering wheel), 16-speaker Harman Kardon surround sound system, digital key, automatic tailgate, Parking Assistant Plus.

WARRANTY/SERVICES

Three-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty, condition-based servicing with service packages available for purchase.