If Mercedes’ S-Class is the champagne of luxury automobiles, the BMW 8-Series is exclusive scotch whiskey. It’s not for everyone, but if you’re looking for an alternative to the cushy Merc with all the provenance and little more attitude the BMW boulevardier is back with no shortage of leather and weather.
Replacing the 6-Series as BMW’s big coupe for the 2019 model year and a convertible variant coming in 2020, the 8’er delivers on its naming scheme by bringing more of everything that the 6 had. It successfully picks up where the last 8 left off, demonstrating the full extent of Munich’s abilities to play in the ultra-luxury segment.
Putting the Grand in Grand Touring
The m850i xDrive sits nicely atop the BMW model lineup, however it actually creates an interesting value proposition as an alternative to the Aston Martins and Bentley GTs of the world, and for a fair bit less money.
With an opulent leather-covered interior, all-wheel drive, every modern amenity and a face-melting 3.6-second 0-60 time courtesy of BMW’s 523 horsepower hot-vee eight-cylinder, the 8 squares off nicely against competition that will set you back close to twice its $122,000 price tag.
Make no mistake, this is no bargain-basement bimmer. The m850i xDrive is a bonafied range-topper. It’s in BMW’s DNA to be the sporty alternative to other German luxury brands, however the informed will note that over the course of the last two decades, Audi, BMW and Mercedes have all in some sense abandoned their unique qualities and moved more towards the center of the market, building cars that do a lot of things well, instead of one thing exceptionally.
The m850i xDrive is no different. It accelerates like a sports car, but it cossets its occupants like a luxury barge should, and this should help BMW’s sales numbers.
Enthusiasts looking for a track toy can seek out the cheaper, smaller 2, 3 and 4-series cars, but fling the 8 into an S-bend and its 4300 lb. heft is going to be apparent. BMW’s bean counters know exactly how many 8-series buyers are going to do that. They can probably be counted on one hand.
The 90s Are in, Again!
Much like the time period when the original 8 roamed the world’s highways, the 8 comes at a time when the posh can afford to indulge. So it makes sense that the m850i Coupe will welcome a drop-top sister car in 2020.
The sleek silhouette that the 8 cuts is every bit as drool-inducing with the roof removed, and top-down motoring is all the more enjoyable with help from the infotainment system’s 10.25-inch screen and premium Bowers & Wilkins stereo there to announce your presence. That is, if the muted roar from your twin exhausts doesn’t first.
Showing off in the modern era requires more than just good looks and a bangin’ stereo, though. The eight also delivers in the technology category with modern touches like lane-keep assist, adaptive digital gauge cluster and even supercar-like four-wheel steering.
And then there’s the decidedly low-tech but oh-so-good to use crystal gear selector. BMW knows their clientele, and some things just don’t change. People will call this a “footballer’s car,” and whisper when you drive by in one but only until they get behind the wheel.
Experience the merino leather interior and effortless thrust, the perfectly sculpted ergonomics of the cockpit. It’s like the 80-inch television at your friend’s place, you didn’t know you needed it. Until you did.