New flagship coupé bristles with high-tech engineering
With the all-new 8 Series, BMW revives a name it last used in the 1990s for a wedge-shaped luxury coupé. But the new 8 Series can also be considered a replacement for the more recent 6 Series as BMW’s flagship coupé. It’s built at the same Dingolfing plant as the 7 Series luxury saloon and benefits from the same high levels of technology, though in a more sporting package.
The new 8 Series is low, smooth and sleek, with a pronounced inward curve rearwards of the front wheel arch that then swells around the rear wheel arch to emphasise its muscularity. The rear is dominated by two trapezoidal exhausts and the designers of the 8 Series have used repeating horizontal lines across the back to accentuate the low, wide stance. At the front there’s a prominent front apron with large air intakes, a version of the BMW kidney-shaped grille that’s unique to this model and the slimmest headlamps of any BMW model to date. Inside, you’ll find a wide centre console, which rises up towards the instrument panel at the front, separating the driver and front passenger. New multifunctional sports seats in Extended Merino leather upholstery offer long-distance comfort with excellent lateral support during fast cornering.
8 Series customers have a choice of two powertrains; the M850i has a 4.4-litre twin-turbo petrol V8 producing 523bhp and 750Nm of torque, with a 0-62mph time of just 3.7 seconds. Alternatively, the 840d is powered by a 3.0-litre diesel engine that delivers 316bhp and 680Nm; 0-62mph takes 4.9 seconds but it also delivers an impressive 46.3mpg. Both powertrains come with an 8-speed paddleshift auto gearbox and BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive system, which sends power to the rear wheels under normal conditions but diverts it to the front on low-traction surfaces. Both models also have BMW’s Integral Active Steering as standard. This turns the rear wheels in the opposite direction to the fronts during low speeds for a tighter turning circle, then in the same direction at higher speeds for stability.
If you have a Microsoft Office 365 business account, BMW claims you won’t need to use your smartphone to access emails, appointments and contacts from your 8 Series. Instead it directly accesses your account, turning your BMW into a mobile office. The 8 Series also features BMW Live Cockpit Professional, which combines a new display and control concept along with high levels of connectivity. The latest-generation display includes a high-resolution instrument cluster behind the steering wheel with a screen diagonal of 12.3 inches and a 10.25-inch Control Display. Other features of BMW Live Cockpit Professional include an adaptive nav system, a 20GB hard-drive-based multimedia system with two USB ports (type A and C), plus Bluetooth and Wi-Fi interfaces.
As a tech flagship the 8 Series comes with a plethora of active safety systems. Driver assistance systems combine camera images with data gathered by ultrasonic and radar sensors to monitor the vehicle’s surroundings, warn of potential hazards and minimise the risk of an accident by applying corrective braking or steering inputs. The Cruise Control system has a braking function as well as Collision and Pedestrian Warning with City Braking, which also alerts the driver when a cyclist is detected. Another standard feature, BMW Head-Up Display, projects information onto the windscreen in the form of graphics so the driver’s focus can be on the road at all times. For safer night driving, the optional Laserlight with variable road illumination and Selective Beam has a high beam range of around 600 metres.
Verdict: The 8 Series is a smooth, suave and sophisticated grand tourer designed for effortless high-speed miles. Yet it’s also a great everyday driver too, with safety systems to keep you and other road users safe and incident-free on crowded urban streets. BMW claims the assistance systems are ‘the latest advances on the road to automated driving’. Fortunately, the power and agility of the 8 Series offer more than enough incentive to take the wheel.
Take a look at the equally elegant 8 Convertible.