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2020 BMW 8-Series Review


LIKES
  • Balanced handling
  • Gran Coupe size
DISLIKES
  • 840i best off the track
  • Large coupe oxymoron
  • Starts expensive, gets stupid
  • Light on standard safety tech
BUYING TIP
  • The Gran Coupe M850i offers the best of all 8-Series worlds with blistering performance, sumptuous luxury, and everyday practicality.


It’s back and the 2020 BMW 8-Series is available in any style except SUV. You go, BMW.

Last year, BMW revived the 8-Series after a 20-year absence. The return of the new flagship is complete with the 2020 BMW 8-Series. The full lineup now comes as coupe or convertible in 840i, M8, M8 Competition, as well as a four-door Gran Coupe full-size sedan. Why does BMW offer so many iterations of what will overall be a low-selling vehicle? Because luxury is all about choice. And because the M8 shuts up any questions about why.

Overall, factoring in all these permutations, the 2020 8-Series scores a 7 out of 10.

The Coupe and soft-top Convertible are stunning inside and out, where some interior options evoke some of the finery from the Rolls-Royce brand owned by BMW. They are designed to be grand tourers meant for grand tours to be had by two people, despite the rear seats. 

They are powered by either a 3.0-liter turbo-6 or a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8 that is tuned from 523 horsepower in the 850i up to 617 hp in the M8 Competition. Power is delivered to the rear wheels or the rear-wheel-biased xDrive all-wheel drive system through an 8-speed automatic that is in nearly every new BMW. The power is prodigious, the fun is copious. At its best, this beast of 4,300 pounds can hit 60 mph in just 3.0 seconds and a top speed of up to 189 mph. 

The 8-Series recognizes its place as a beauty that can be beast, and is able to soften up for comfort on the long and winding road, or button down to brass tacks on pressing demand thanks to adaptive dampers and an anti-roll bar to prevent body roll. 

The 8-Series pretends to be a four-passenger car, but these rear passengers won’t be very comfortable for very long. Up front is the kind of wide and low comprehensive comfort that will make more than the rear passengers jealous. 

The 2020 8-Series has standard active safety features such as automatic emergency braking and adaptive LED headlights, but active lane control and adaptive cruise control is bundled as an extra package. Other standard equipment includes a 10.3-inch touchscreen, Harman Kardon audio, leather upholstery, 20-inch wheels, and a 12.3-inch instrument cluster. 

The four-door Gran Coupe is the best value of the bunch, with prices ranging from about $85,000 to $150,000.

Styling
The 2020 8-Series is long, low, and anything but lean.

Coupes are usually beautiful, convertibles are always promising, and the supersized 8-Series exaggerates both of these qualities. 

It earns double points on the inside and the outside, totaling a 9 for styling. 

Long, low, and wide, the 2020 8-Series looks like a Ford Mustang Bullitt stretched at the base and pinched at the rear. This is a compliment to them both. The muscle car look is classed up from Bavaria, as it should be to match the six-figure tag of the 8-Series. Even the Gran Coupe is a sharp four-door flagship sedan.

The 8-Series has a long nose and short tail, with small overhangs and a roofline that might be the new definition for the modern coupe. At the front, BMW’s latest iteration of the ribbed kidney grille gets larger and broader, which defines the surprising buffness of the front. There are no supercar angles here, as there are in the wedge-shaped i8 electric car. The angles come in on the corners, where the hawkish LED headlights stretch into the fender over the 20-inch wheels. 

A deep crease down the doors extends from the side vents toward the rear, where more vents open up over the dual exhausts. The large coupe is powerful grace, and what the 8-Series offers in its muscular heart it carries on its long and low exterior sleeves. 

The soft top on the convertible is fine, but lopping off the greenhouse of the 8-Series makes it that much more striking. The jelly bean butt on the Gran Coupe is attractive but commonplace. The Coupe and Convertible are anything but.  

Inside, the cabin balances chrome and soft-touch dash pieces with horizontal controls and vents that bow from the center stack as the rest of the dash retreats in the corners. The 10.3-inch touchscreen headlines the driver-oriented dash.

Contrasting leather interior encourages owners to indulge in their six-figure purchase. It’s a place you could sit in traffic and not be bothered. The aluminum trim takes it to the next level, and the available carbon fiber trim complements quilted leather and ambient lighting in a cross-textural transcendental experience.

Performance
At the top of the line, the peerless M8 Competition hits 60 mph in 3.0 seconds.

The return of the BMW 8-Series puts performance front and center, from the base 840i to the blistering M8 Competition. Whether in the turbo-6 or twin-turbo V-8, the 2020 8-Series provides plenty of power and impressive handling for a large car that can be weighed down by its electronic sophistication. 

The 8-Series rates at an 8 for performance, with an extra point for a grand touring ride and another for sports car handling, and one more for its excellent powertrains. The M8, if rated alone, might be a 10 for its incredible balance of power and grace. 

The starting power for the 2020 8-Series Coupe, Convertible, and Gran Coupe is the 335-horsepower 3.0-liter turbo-6 with an 8-speed automatic that is ubiquitous across the BMW lineup. Even though the paddle shifters can be on the smaller side and a bit of a reach, they let you drive a little further into the red than the no-paddle automatic, which is quick and smooth. This B58 engine with the twin-scroll turbocharger is a perennial award winner and powers everything from the X7 SUV to the Z4 M40i roadster. In the 840i Coupe, the powertrain makes 368 lb-ft of torque at just 1,600 rpm, and hits 60 mph in 4.7 seconds. All-wheel drive trims that 60 mph time down to 4.4 seconds. 
That strong mark marks the weakest of the 8-Series engine offerings.

The 850i with all-wheel drive in the Coupe, Convertible or Gran Coupe uses a 523-horsepower 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V-8 engine that makes 553 lb-ft of torque from 1,800 rpm through 4,600 rpm. It is quiet and composed as it should be in a large touring car, but then growls with German V-8 muscle under open throttle. There’s no getting over its size, which means that the power delivery is delightful but the handling can be compromised by all that shifting weight. It’s best for touring and straight-line acceleration to 60 mph in just 3.6 seconds in the Coupe. The Gran Coupe is 3.7 seconds and Convertible 3.8 seconds. It can be tracked, but it takes a lot of effort to hold the line and the cornering leans more to the shaky side than the precise. 

BMW 8-Series ride and handling
Even with xDrive and the M Sport rear differential, the large coupe behaves like a rear-wheel-drive car by sending the torque to the rear axle, then delivering the torque to the rear wheel with the most grip in slippery situations.   

The front double wishbone and five-link rear suspension with adaptive dampers give the 8-Series this dual personality of being a larger tourer and a nimble performance coupe. The 850i in particular is a lovely driver for your favorite long and winding road, and the Convertible can soak up the sun and miles equally. But it’s a long, heavy car, so bending it through hairpins and mountain roads can be tricky. The available active steering system helps, which has the rear wheels turn in the opposite direction of the front wheels in speeds below 55 mph. It effectively shortens the wheelbase to make it more flexible. 

On the track, opened up in Sport Plus mode and with wide space to fling it around, the 850i proves that it can be beauty and beast. Steering feedback is on the light side, and even with the rear-biased all-wheel drive system, the weight creates some understeer that can’t be overcome by the 245/35 front and 275/30-series rear tires

M8 Coupe
If a blindfolded passenger were to ride in the 840i then the M8, they could believe the M8 is a different vehicle. It behaves like a car half its size, but the large size instills the kind of sure-footedness that makes you push it harder and harder on each successive lap, as was our experience at BMW’s Performance Center in South Carolina. The additional engine cooler and transmission cooler dissipate the heat enough to make it a bona fide track car, unlike the 850i, yet with the same grand touring capabilities of all the 8-Series. 

And it is stupid quick. The 600-hp 4.4-liter turbocharged V-8 with the 8-speed automatic makes 553 pound-feet of torque at 1,800 rpm, good enough to hit 60 mph in 3.1 seconds. The 617-hp Competition does it in 3 seconds flat, according to BWM. Top speed can be boosted from 155 to 189 mph with the optional M Driver’s Package. The only thing more gut-dropping than its off the line acceleration is the $133,995 and $146,995 starting price for the M8 Coupe and M8 Competition, respectively. We’d recommend the Coupe, because if you’re getting the M8, you’re tracking the M8, and the Coupe tracks better than the Convertible. 

Comfort & Quality
The large coupe is all about front seat comfort, though the Gran Coupe respects rear passengers as well.

Comfort is key in the 8-Series, and front-seat passengers are swaddled in the finest 14-way power leather seats surrounded by gorgeous metallic wood trim and soft leather dash pieces. But BMW doesn’t extend that comfort to the rear seats, which doesn’t make much sense for such a large car.  

The 2020 8-Series gets a 6, with a point each for comfy front seats and refined interior, but a point docked for the rear seats. The Gran Coupe, if rated alone, would earn an extra point.

The Gran Coupe is more than 200 inches long, nearly as much as the X7 three-row crossover, while all the other 8-Series are 191.2 inches long, which is nearly the same as the X5 mid-size crossover. But you could pack people and gear in much more comfort in those vehicles, of course. For two, however, the 8-Series ensconces its two turtle doves in a low, wide ride with a dash that curves away at the edges to suggest more legroom. It’s a massive vehicle for the limited interior space it offers, but two people in front may never notice. The sport bucket seats have deep bolsters and adjustable lumbar, which combine with a power tilt/telescope wheel to enable easy sightlines outside and to the side of the vehicle. Despite the good outward vision for a coupe, beware of parallel parking near curbs, as these low heavy doors are sure to scrape. 
loaading...
The cockpit has plenty of storage and space, with a wireless charging tray and two big cupholders where the console meets the stack. Glovebox and center console storage is good enough for tablets and pocketbooks. 

In all but the four-door Gran Coupe, which provides over 6 inches of additional rear legroom, the back seats of the 8-Series are just to show off the car for brief drives around the block. Anything more might be considered endurance passengering. 

The rear seats are best at folding down for greater cargo volume, which, in the trunk alone, is 14.8 cubic feet in the coupe, and 12.4 cubic feet in convertibles.

The soft top Convertible can be raised or lowered in 15 seconds at speeds up to 30 mph. An inconvenient snap-in, fold-up windscreen diminishes buffeting, but also takes up some precious storage space in the trunk when not in use. The optional neck warmer with small vents in the front seats is a must.

Safety
Odds are as long as the 8-Series that it will ever be crash tested.

Large, expensive luxury cars that don’t sell in large numbers typically don’t get crash tested. The 8-Series is all of these things, so we can’t assign it a rating. 

What we do know is BMW equips all 8-Series with standard automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection and adaptive LED headlights. At a starting point over $85,000, the 8-Series should come with more. 

The Driving Assistance Package ($1,100) comes with a surround-view camera system, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-departure warnings, blind-spot monitors, and some parking helpers. 

It’s a good step but BMW encourages the step up to Driving Assistance Professional Package, which adds another $1,700 and must be bundles with the aforementioned safety package to bring you active lane control, adaptive cruise control, traffic jam assistant for hands-free semi-autonomous driving at low speeds in congested areas. 

The active lane control tested in the 8-Series can tend to veer to close to the white line, then jerk abruptly away and slide over to the double-yellow line. It works better in congested areas at low speeds.

Features
The 2020 8-Series is loaded with standard features, and the heated front armrests show just how loaded.

Even with a slew of features ranging from the technologically advanced to the sumptuously pampered, and an excellent warranty with service plan, the 2020 BMW 8-Series is not a value, in coupe, convertible, Gran Coupe, or M variants. 

Upstart makes such as Genesis and even the gorgeous interiors of Mercedes-Benz have proven that luxury and value are not mutually exclusive. They are for the 8-Series. 

We give it an 8 for 10 for excellent standard features, luxury-loaded options, much-improved infotainment, and a solid warranty. But it’ll cost you, a lot, so we dock it one point.

All of the 8s get a 10.3-inch touchscreen with haptic feedback on the controller in the center console. BMW wants you to access vehicle info and media lists in every way imaginable, but the best is through the cloud-based voice control. The worst, or most unnecessary, is gesture control. Apple CarPlay comes standard, with Android Auto to join the fold mid-year. 

The new touchscreen is complemented by a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster that pushes the gauges to the outskirt and opens the central real estate for a map or other goodies, such as the twin horsepower and torque gauges. The standard head-up display is pretty sharp at night, too.

A Harmon Kardon 16-speaker surround sound system is standard, but the available Bowers & Wilkins might be the best on the market. 

Soft-close automatic doors, wifi hotspot, Bluetooth connectivity, wireless charging, XM radio for one year, two USB ports, keyless entry, and leather surfaces complete the standard feature list, except for one other feature we thought was over the top until we settled in: heated front armrests. If you can have a heated steering wheel and heated front seats standard, why not warm armrests, too?

All of this comes standard with the 840i at $88,895, including $995 destination. To go topless, the wallet might need to be bottomless; the convertible is a $9,500 upcharge across the lineup. You get a power retractable soft top and available seat vents that heat the neck. 

All-wheel drive adds $2,900 to coupe or convertible. Or you could just add another $21,100 and get the M850i coupe for $112,895 or convertible for $122,395.

The standard equipment on the M8 ($133,995) and M8 Competition ($146,995) is mostly related to performance, such as the carbon fiber roof on the M8 Coupe and 20-inch wheels. 

If there is a value buy, it is the four-door Gran Coupe, which starts at $85,895.

The options list for any 8-Series is dizzying, and standalone choices range from glass controls on iDrive and the shifter to ash black silver wood trim on the M8. Then there’s all the tech-heavy packages.  

No matter which 8-Series comes home, BMW provides all 2020 vehicles with an impressive 4 years or 50,000 miles of warranty coverage that includes free maintenance. Get to know and love your dealer.

Fuel Economy
Even at its most efficient, the 8-Series would rather melt your face.

As heavy as an SUV but as roomy as a coupe, the BMW 8-Series puts the full in size. The lack of electrified powertrain options across the lineup means efficiency gains come from lighter-weight engines and more potent turbochargers. It tries to appease the fuel economy gods, but its dark overlord is speed. 

We give it a 4 for economy.

The EPA rates the 840i Coupe at 23 mpg city, 30 highway, 25 combined, and that’s the best it gets. The 840i Convertible and Gran Coupe lose one mpg, while the xDrive versions drop one more mpg to 20/27/23 mpg. 

The M850i xDrive coupe is 18/25/20 mpg; the convertible gets 17/26/20 mpg.

The M8 and M8 Competition get the kind of fuel economy reserved for full-size SUVs, at 15/21/17 mpg. 

Start/stop on all 8-Series helps save some fuel that would be otherwise wasted while idling, and on AWD models power can be sent to the rear axle only when all-wheel traction isn’t needed.


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About Udara Madusanka

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