Straddling the line between relaxed GTs and more purist sports cars like the Porsche 911, the BMW 8 Series Coupe is a stylish and devastatingly fast machine, packed with technology and with a broad range of abilities. While it’s a little cramped in the back to count as a true four-seater it’s viable for occasional use in this format and more practical than most rivals. And if you really need to carry passengers BMW also has the option of the four-door Gran Coupe version too.
There’s no dressing it up; the BMW 8 Series is an expensive car to buy and run, though the unusual option of a diesel engine in this sector of the market does at least open the options, especially if you rack up a lot of miles.
The high entry cost is probably only the starting price for most buyers, as there are lots of tempting extras on the options list and BMW is canny about how it’s bundled them together into packages that can cost as much as a decent hot hatch on their own. Offsetting the initial cost to a certain extent are resale values that are likely to be high, so the 8 Series is expected to retain its value well, helping reduce finance payments, for example. Nonetheless, and just as with all of this car’s rivals, the 8 Series will be expensive to fuel and tax, it uses expensive tyres and is in a high insurance group. BMW offers fixed-price servicing across the range to manage that cost.
Expert rating: 3/5
Reliability of a BMW 8 Series
Like all BMWs, the 8 Series comes with a three-year, unlimited mileage warranty that includes BMW Emergency Service. Unfortunately, like all BMWs, there hangs the spectre of a disappointing last place on the 2019 JD Power Vehicle Dependability Survey and a corresponding lowly score in Warranty Direct’s Reliability Index for performance cars. True, that manufacturer warranty should cover all faults in those first three years. But with repair costs second only to a Porsche 911 this car’s 6 Series predecessor sets a worrying precedent for longer-term ownership.
Expert rating: 2/5
Safety for a BMW 8 Series
BMW generally fares well in terms of safety tests, although relatively low-volume production cars such as the 8 Series don’t tend to go through the independent testing process. Nonetheless, buyers will be reassured by the fact the 8 Series is built on BMW’s latest architecture so has strong foundations, backed up by plenty of airbags and active safety systems to hopefully prevent them ever being needed. As ever (and not unique to BMW), the most advanced systems, such as active cruise control, are on the options list, but even as standard the 8 Series promises to be a very safe car. High-performance tyres and brakes help with safety as much as they do handling, while the four-wheel-drive system standard on the M850i and 850d gives the car added security in slippery conditions.
Expert rating: 4/5
How comfortable is the BMW 8 Series
While the cabin of the 8 Series has a restrained appearance, it feels special. High-quality materials are everywhere. Soft leather trims the comfortable seats, the insides of the doors and even the dashboard and centre console, with raised stitching adding a classy touch. The same can be said for all the controls; every switch and button feels robust and slick. The high-tech infotainment system is flashy enough, with its two high-definition colour screens. The one in front of the driver takes the place of traditional instruments and looks great, especially the way the sat-nav is displayed within the speedo and rev counter. It’s a bit of a shame, then, that its layout is limited in terms of customisation.
No complaints with the space up front, nor the range of seat adjustment. However, the two rear seats are very cramped, both in terms of headroom and space for knees. Adding to the discomfort is an upright seat back, so don’t expect adults to ride in there for very long. To be fair, most other cars in this segment are the same and there’s the option of the 8 Series Gran Coupe if you have a regular need to carry additional passengers.
A car like this is about the driving and the way the BMW 8 Series handles and copes with the road surface depends entirely on which mode the driver selects. So, in the default Comfort setting, the 8 Series is just that, absorbing bumps well despite the large wheels without lolling around the place like a boat. The suspension firms up as you choose Sport or Sport Plus, and the steering alters to suit, making the car feel more immediate and sporting. Still not enough? The option of upgraded ‘Professional’ adaptive suspension is there for the truly keen.
On all but the 840i four-wheel steering is standard, too, which makes the 8 Series feel remarkably agile in low-speed corners (and also helps make parking easier), while the M850i xDrive version gets a sophisticated rear differential that gives the car an even sportier demeanour in the corners.
Expert rating: 4/5
Features of the BMW 8 Series
The BMW 8 Series is a sharply-styled two-door coupe with an aggressive and eye-catching design. Its nose is dominated by a very wide and low take on BMW’s traditional ‘kidney grille’, framed by slim LED headlights. Buyers can upgrade these to laser items for a fee. Stylish 20-inch alloy wheels are fitted and the rear end is particularly muscular and wide-looking, with large exhaust outlets and curvaceous LED lights.
As you’d hope given the price the standard equipment levels are generous, with luxurious leather upholstery, a large central touchscreen for the infotainment with the option of using voice control or the ‘turn and push’ controller when driving, projected speed and navigation information on the windscreen, high-grade harman/kardon speaker system and power adjustable seats. This is just the start though, BMW keen for buyers to upgrade and bundling the best of the rest into an all-inclusive – but very expensive – ‘Ultimate’ package.
Expert rating: 4/5
Power for a BMW 8 Series
The entry to the 8 Series Coupe range is the six-cylinder, rear-wheel drive 840i, branded ‘sDrive’ to distinguish it from the ‘xDrive’ four-wheel drive models. These comprise the thumpingly powerful M850i and the diesel-engined 840d, the extra security on slippery surfaces welcome given the additional power of these models. All 8 Series Coupes use an eight-speed automatic gearbox, which is slick and unobtrusive when cruising about but also offers the option of crisp manual shifting via the paddles when the mood takes you.
If you’re intending to enjoy your 8 Series Coupe as more of a traditional GT the 840i and 840d are both well up to the job, the diesel perhaps the better choice thanks to its improved economy, excellent refinement and a relaxingly muscular power delivery that lets you cover ground quickly without breaking a sweat.
Topping the line-up is the M850i version, featuring a 530 horsepower V8 petrol engine. This is an exceptionally fast car that accelerates as quickly as many a true sports car and it makes a noise to suit, especially if the Sport Plus mode is used. Otherwise it (and the diesel) are impressively civilised.