The BMW M850i Gran Coupe is a luxury performance flex that's hard to ignore
A Bimmer with bravado and the horsepower to back it up
Alex is a New York based automotive writer and content producer. He drives a '08 Mustang GT/CS when not driving everything else.
Opting to join the BMW family comes with a degree of seriousness. After all, it’s a key figure in the German luxury car pantheon and that carries with it a level of status, even from an entry-level standpoint. There’s also the fact that you’re choosing “the ultimate driving machine,” according to a very authoritative-sounding registered trademark, which declares that you seek something with performance chops to match the bravado. You’re very much sending a message with a BMW. Some are louder than others, but few are as boisterous as the new M850i xDrive Gran Coupe, a jam-packed Bimmer built to be flexed.
Big Dingolfing energy
With a length of 200 inches nose-to-tail, the large stature of the four-door Gran Coupe makes being seen in the M850i an easy accomplishment. That’s nearly a 10-inch increase over the coupe version, which might not seem like much on paper, but makes plenty of difference when it comes to how the car is packaged. Like a beached rock smoothed out by the tide, the 8 Series has a sleek and slippery profile that communicates its intention to go fast, even when sitting still. This look is maintained despite the front and rear windshields in the Gran Coupe seeing less of a rake to increase the headroom for front and rear passengers.
That sweeping top is home to a panoramic moonroof which is bisected in the cabin, giving the front and rear an independent portal. There’s also an option to replace this with a full carbon fiber roof, lowering the weight and center of gravity for those looking to eke out a bit more performance.
As with the BMW’s length, the car also goes big on width. The 8 Series Gran Coupe has the widest rear track of any BMW (65.8 inches, to be precise). Overall, the M850i looks both menacing and sleek at the same time, all pulled together by a fascia with aggressively engineered bottom lip, relying on the signature kidney grille to draw attention away from it.
Speaking of divided attention, there’s enough going on inside the M850i’s cabin to make a passenger’s head spin. From ceiling to center console, there are enough switches and buttons to rival a light airplane’s cockpit. Matched with the 12.3-inch digital display cluster, the 10.3-inch center display, and ambient light package, the Bimmer’s interior couldn’t get more distracting unless it had… I dunno, a diamond-cut glass drive select lever? Oh, it has that, too.
To be fair, the 8 Series is a product of its time, where an abundance of tech is celebrated in a car with this much luxury status. It’s a mix of the things we demand and the extra gadgets that elevate it beyond the average fare. BMW does at least attempt to mitigate the onslaught of inputs with the ability to recognize in-air hand gestures matched to certain functions like volume control and music track selection, something the console display reminds you of when you handle them manually. Unfortunately, in my experience, it’s a feature that only worked when I triggered it by accident, and hardly ever when I tried to use it on purpose.
The Bimmer includes an optional-yet-thorough driver assist package that would rival most others, packed with features like stop-and-go traffic assist, collision warning with full braking ability, and active lane-keep assist. There’s also a nifty park assist control that utilizes an array of cameras to keep you from curbing the 20-inch wheels you’ve paid so much for. Along with rendering a faux bird’s-eye-view, this system can also display a videogame-like 3D model of the car, which provides a better sense of the vehicle’s positioning. How helpful it is varies, but it’s a neat trick to demonstrate to your passengers.
Saddled with the a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8, the brolic BMW serves up a hearty 523 horsepower and 553 lb-ft. of torque, delivering it to all four wheels by way of an eight-speed sport automatic transmission. Built-in launch control will send this 8 Series rocketing from 0 to 60 in 3.7 seconds, according to BMW. That’s not too shabby, and the acceleration is palpable in practical application. This is the M850i making good on what the beefy looks have been promising.
Delivery of power is certainly the main event with the Gran Coupe, but it’s not solely a straight-line brute. Given its size, the BMW is a handful around corners, regardless of how much M Division magic has been sprinkled throughout. It’s far from bad, but there’s no escaping the feeling of the car’s mass during any sprightly driving.
Flowing through some switchbacks, and after a while, I’m worn out. The BMW makes short work of most of the windy roads I can throw at it, but the more aggressive turns start adding up, and the car feels like it’s at the edge of its territory. I’m in control, but it feels like it teases with madness without going over the edge that, I suspect, the M8 & M8 Competition are more poised to dive over.
At the end of the day, slow or fast, the BMW M850i massages all the right muscles. The sport sedan is certainly targeted towards the “more is more” crowd, and with this in mind, it’s easy to see that group gravitating towards this car like a moth to a very expensive flame. Starting at $108,900, my tester’s bottom line added up to $122,775 with all the extra toppings. Thankfully, there’s so much going on with the M850i, it’s hard to feel like you wouldn’t be getting what you paid for. The polite, tolerant smiles on the faces of your passengers as they listen to you go through each feature in loving detail, though? You can’t put a price on that.