OMG M8, it’s the BMW M8 Competition Coupe and Convertible review
The grandest grand tourer from BMW, that can do 0-62 quicker than a Porsche 911 GT3 RS
It’s the most expensive BMW model, and it’s the company’s fastest ever road car. The BMW M8 Competition Coupe nails the 0-62mph time in just 3.2 seconds, making it quicker off the mark than the Mercedes-AMG GT R (3.6 secs), Ferrari 458 Italia (3.4 secs), Porsche 911 GT3 RS (3.3 secs), and the Audi R8 V10 (3.4 secs). We’re already off to a good start.
Take an M5 Competition, stick it in the body of an 8 Series, and you get something like an M8, mate. But, to be fair, it’s a wee bit more than that. For starters, it has a lower ride height and centre of gravity compared to the M5, and you’ve got bespoke 20-inch wheels rather than the M5’s 19s...
Mix luxury and performance, and you get BMW’s first luxury performance car
BMW reckons the M8 is its first luxury performance car. Currently we’ve got the Competition Coupe, and Competition Convertible, with a four-door Gran Coupe coming later in 2020. The stats are pretty good: twin-turbocharged 4.4-litre V8s, 625hp, 750Nm from 5,800rpm, and 0-62mph time of 3.3 seconds for the Convertible, which is packing an extra 125kg compared with the Coupe.
There's a bit of Mustang about the M8 Coupe's silhouette
As the Brits are apparently a nation of box tickers, it’s Competition spec only for us, with a concise and perfectly formed list of optional extras. However, if you just can’t decide between the soft-close doors, sun protection glass, TV function Plus, laser headlights or other options, BMW brings to you… the ULTIMATE PACKAGE.
For £19k, you can have every single box ticked. All of them. But hey, if you’re already spending more than £100k on your ride, what’s a little £19k between friends (fun fact: around 25% of M8 buyers have opted for it so far)? Part of that £19k is the Driver’s Package, which not only gets you some all-important driver training, but also unlocks the top speed of 189mph (which sits at a not exactly slow 155mph without the Driver’s Package).
The overall price of the M8 could be the slight sticking point... luxurious performance driving does not come cheap. The Coupe I drove was £143,435, with the Convertible pipping £150,000 – although starting prices are £123,435, and £130,435, respectively.
This is a seriously big car – and it's not exactly lightweight either
Unleash the beast
Keep everything in the BMW set to Comfort and you’ve got yourself a relaxed cruiser, which never feels wallowy. However, switch it up into Sport or Sport+ and it feels like a different beast, with a welcome extra punch of torque, delivered through the excellent eight-speed automatic gearbox, complete with steering wheel-mounted shift paddles.
The M8 Convertible feels a bit more like a GT car than the Coupe, encouraging you to suavely munch those miles, while the Coupe feels like it wants you to push it a bit more. That’s not to say the Convertible isn’t a lot of fun to drive. And in either case, the steering is reassuringly precise.
The convertible feels more like a Grand Tourer than a sports car. That's no bad thing…
The rather pleasant roar of the most powerful production BMW engine can be unleashed in Sport+ mode, but it demurely purrs away in Comfort. At full belt though, it’s never unpleasantly loud – this is a grownup, sophisticated piece of kit after all.
In standard mode, you’ve got a rear-biased all-wheel-drive system which is great, but it just keeps on gripping and won’t let you get too much out of the back end. If you want a bit more, flick the switch to the less aggressive modified all-wheel-drive Sport setting, which sends more power to the rear and makes it a little easier to get a twitch or two, but with a reassuring safety net working in the background. Or just sod everything and have it in rear-wheel-drive only. That goes hand in hand with the track mode, and should probably be kept for the track.
The M8 isn’t necessarily a car you’d think of taking to a track though, and most buyers won’t. It’s incredibly powerful, and fast, with impressive acceleration, braking and cornering ability. But a track car? It’s pretty darn big at nearly 5m long and 2m wide, and pretty heavy at nearly two tonnes, even if it doesn’t feel anywhere near as big, or as heavy.
You can switch to a rear-wheel-drive mode for lairy cornering, but save it for the track…
The interior’s alright, but you might expect more for your money
People looking to buy an M8 are likely also considering an Aston Martin DB11, Bentley Continental GT or Porsche 911 (or perhaps more likely, are just wondering if they have space alongside their Conti GT, 911 and DB11 for another £100k+ car). And on that, we need to talk about the interior. The iDrive system is very good; it’s one of the best, if not the best infotainment systems out there, but basically, you could have a 3 Series looking pretty similar inside.
Ok, so hit the M Mode button and the digital dash switches to gears and revs, oil temperatures and other such things, and there are some gorgeous trim materials: super-soft leather, glass, metal, carbon-fibre (but no crystal gearknob). Also the seats are fab, whether you want to be comfortably snug cruising on a long journey, or hugged a bit tighter through the corners. They also adjust for width if you’ve got a bit more cushion for the pushin’.
The interior arguably doesn't feel special enough for such an expensive car
As you’ll be committed convertible drivers who has the roof down at all times bar a torrential downpour, you’ll be thrilled to know the heating is spot on, and the neck warmer (similar to Merc’s Airscarf) adjusts itself depending on what speed you’re going at, which is pretty cool. And you can have toasty arms courtesy of heated armrests if you so desire.
There's plenty of room in the front, but it’s speed-loving kids only in the tight back seat. A longer four-door Gran Coupe version is on the way in 2020 though, if you just have to have more than one passenger to thrill.
The M8's interior sports more carbon fibre than an F1 grid before the lights go out
You may have seen them in a BMW or two before, but those tantalisingly red M1 and M2 steering wheel buttons are shortcuts for two of your fave driver setups. Change the steering weight, brake response (if you’ve ticked the box, they’re carbon. You can tell thanks to the slightly intense-looking gold calipers...), damping, torque distribution and engine and transmission aggression. You’ll want to get that down pretty early on, or you’ll be scrolling through an endless cycle of menus, forever, and no-one wants that.
The red M1 and M2 buttons give quick access to your customised driving modes
The BMW M8 Competition is an insanely capable thing, with a split personality. You can quite happily plod around, feeling fancy, having a lovely time doing the GT thing. But switch into Sport or Sport+ mode, and you unleash the beast.
It’s incredibly quick, it’s mean, it looks the part in both Coupe and Convertible guises, and it has the all-important giggle factor. I’m just not sure it’ll be your next track car, and you’ll need to save up quite a few pennies first. Especially if you’re adding that Ultimate Package. Hmm, Ultimate Package or a couple of Dacias? Your choice.