- Sharp handling for its size
- High-quality, feature-rich interior
- Best-looking modern BMW
- Complicated infotainment system
- Odd brake feel
- Very tight rear seats in coupe and convertible
BMW 8-Series Expert Review
- Turbo inline-six engine option
- Four-door Gran Coupe body style now available
- M8 coupe, convertible, and Gran Coupe join the lineup
BMW reintroduced the 8 Series for 2019 after a long hiatus since the model's last appearance in North America in 1997. The 8 Series replaces the 6 Series as a 5 Series-based coupe and convertible, though the new model is a few inches longer and wider than its predecessor. Like the departed 6, it's also available as a four-door Gran Coupe for those seeking more style than a 5 Series can provide but still need four-door practicality. The 8 Series Gran Coupe competes with other style-first luxury four-doors such as the Audi A7 and Mercedes-Benz CLS.
We expected the 8 Series to underwhelm—driving like a 5 Series with fewer doors—but we were pleasantly surprised to be wrong. The 8 Series is an excellent grand touring coupe, convertible, and sedan, and the M8 is a monster. Everyone who drove the 8 commented on how much smaller it feels than it actually is, and we praised the accurate steering rack that provided plenty of feedback. It's quite a looker, too.
Chassis balance is excellent, and especially in V-8 models, the rear end is happy to kick out without making it feel as if you've lost control. Brake feel could be better, but it doesn't ruin the experience. This is a car that shines when driven enthusiastically on a winding road, and it inspires confidence in its driver. It also works as a comfortable cruiser and includes impressive standard luxury content like heated armrests, a glass panoramic roof, a power rear sunshade, and 16-speaker premium audio.
It's not without flaws; the infotainment system takes some getting used to and the rear seats in two-door models are pretty useless. Then again, if you're worried about rear seats, you'll buy the Gran Coupe. Expecting to be disappointed, we were wowed by BMW's new bruiser. The 8 Series rocks.
Under the hood of your 8 Series you'll find a six- or eight-cylinder forced induction engine mated to an eight-speed automatic. The entry-level 840i is powered by a 3.0-liter single-turbo inline-six that develops 335 hp and 368 lb-ft of torque. Six-cylinder models can be had with RWD or AWD, but those with the V-8 are AWD only. BMW estimates a six-cylinder 8 Series Gran Coupe will reach 60 in 4.6-4.9 seconds depending on the drive type. The 840i Gran Coupe is EPA-rated at 20-22/27-29 mpg city/highway, with RWD models carrying a 2-mpg advantage.
The other option is the M850i that sports a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8 in place of the 840i's inline-six. In this application, it makes an impressive 523 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque, which in our 2020 Car of the Year testing, helped an M850i coupe gallop to 60 in? just 3.4 seconds. The M850i Gran Coupe returns 17/25 mpg.
For ultimate performance in your 8 Series, check out the M8 Competition, which rocks a version of the 4.4-liter V-8 making 617 hp and 553 lb-ft. BMW says that car will complete its 0-60 run in as little as 3.0 seconds flat.
The 8 Series comes standard with driver attention alert and auto emergency braking with pedestrian detection, though more active safety features are available with the Driving Assistance and Driving Assistance Professional packages. The former adds park assist, a 360-degree camera system, front and rear parking sensors, blind-spot monitoring, and lane departure warning. Opting for the Professional package means adaptive cruise control with traffic jam assist, extended auto emergency braking, blind-spot protection with steering assist, and active lane centering.
All 8 Series variants seat four or five, but your rear passengers will be happiest in the extended-wheelbase Gran Coupe. In that model, folks up front have 42.1 inches of legroom, and those in the rear have a very acceptable 36.6 inches, compared to just 29.5 in the coupe and convertible. Likewise, the Gran Coupe has a cargo capacity advantage at 15.5 cubic feet instead of the 14.8 you'd get in coupe and 12.4 in the convertible.
At the center of every 8 Series interior sits a 10.3-inch iDrive touchscreen infotainment system, which includes Apple CarPlay compatibility and navigation as standard. The base audio setup is a 16-speaker Harman Kardon system that can be upgraded to a more powerful 16-speaker Bowers & Wilkins setup. Tech features including a full-color head-up display and a wireless charging pad are included as standard.
2020 BMW 840i
Even in its most accessible form, the 8 Series is properly well-equipped. The 840i starts with a 3.0-liter turbo inline-six, eight-speed automatic with paddle shifters, RWD (AWD is available), sport exhaust, 18-inch alloy wheels, adaptive LED laser headlights with auto high beams, exterior LED welcome lights, heated power-folding side mirrors, and a power liftgate. But that's just the exterior.
Step inside and you'll find extended leather upholstery, ash gray wood trim, and a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel. Infotainment is handled by a 10.3-inch iDrive touchscreen system with Apple CarPlay and navigation, Wi-Fi hotspot capability, satellite radio, and 16-speaker Harman Kardon audio. A color head-up display is also standard, as is a proximity key with remote start, exterior mirror, driver's seat memory settings, 14-way heated power sport seats with four-way lumbar support, and even heated armrests. It doesn't stop there, though. More standard features include a power rear sunshade, a panoramic moonroof, four-zone climate control, rain-sensing wipers, soft-close doors, LED ambient interior lighting, a wireless charging pad, auto emergency braking with pedestrian detection, and driver attention alert.
2020 BMW M850i
Opting for the not-quite-M M Sport variant adds a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8, standard AWD, adaptive M suspension with active roll stabilization, and an aerodynamic body kit with M rear spoiler. Other hardware improvements include M Sport brakes, an M Sport differential, and 20-inch M alloy wheels. Stainless steel fabric interior trim is standard inside, and so are a dark headliner, M sport steering wheel, and heated and ventilated 16-way power front seats with adjustable side bolsters.