Review

BMW 8 Series Coupe (2018 - ) review

The BMW 8 Series aims to combine long-distance comfort and high performance in one stylish and high-tech package. Its high price puts it into competition with luxury cars from Aston Martin, Mercedes and Porsche to name a few.

Words by: First published: 25th October 2018
The Auto Trader expert verdict: ★★★★★ ★★★★★ 4.0
Thanks to carefully developed driving modes and a sophisticated standard specification, the BMW 8 Series really does allow its owner to switch between comfortable cruiser and focused sports car at the touch of a button. It’s not cheap to buy, but this range of capability never is.

Pros

  • Generous standard specification
  • Luxurious and high-quality cabin
  • Powerful range of engines

Cons

  • Tiny rear seats
  • Feels wide on small roads
  • Limited customisation of displays
Pick of the range
BMW 840d xDrive
Reasonably-priced and has more performance than anyone needs.
Most economical
BMW 840d xDrive
Only diesel in the range is frugal, but still fast.
Blow the budget
BMW 850i xDrive
Awesome performance and a fab noise, if you can afford it

Interested in buying a BMW 8 Series?

How good does it look? 5/5

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. A wide range of colours includes some particularly bright paint finishes, while it’s also possible to specify a carbon fibre exterior package and even a carbon fibre roof. The latter gives the 8 Series a uniquely sporting appearance. Overall, while it’s obviously a BMW, the 8 Series looks suitably more exclusive than the mainstream models in the line-up.

What's the interior like? 4/5

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. This is complemented by a textured metallic material elsewhere that looks and feels good. The same can be said for all the controls; every switch and button feels robust and slick. Buyers can upgrade the gear selector to a rather glitzier glass item if they wish, but we don’t think it suits the car. Anyway, 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.

How practical is it? 3/5

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. Thankfully, the seat backs fold down flat, extending the 420-litre boot space into the cabin when needs be. Access via the boot lid is a little restricted by the shape of the lights, but the space within is quite useful. Back in the main cabin, there’s good storage for odds and ends in the shape of door pockets, a glovebox and covered spaces ahead of and behind the gear lever.

What's it like to drive? 4/5

How the BMW 8 Series handles and copes with the road surface depends entirely on which mode the driver selects, as this has the effect of altering the power steering and suspension firmness, among other things. So, in the default Comfort setting, the 8 Series is just that, absorbing bumps well despite the large wheels, yet it isn’t exactly lolling around the place like a boat. Control of unwanted body movements is kept in check and it’s easy to maintain a decent pace no matter what kind of road is underneath. 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. BMW fits four-wheel steering as 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.

How powerful is it? 5/5

Just two engines are offered in the 8 Series Coupe for now, one diesel and one petrol, both driving all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic gearbox. The 840d’s six-cylinder turbodiesel produces 315 horsepower and an incredible 501lb ft of torque, making it very fast without you having to push it hard. Topping the line-up is the M850i version, featuring a 523-horsepower twin-turbocharged 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, which reveals that wind- and road noise are also kept well in check, despite the use of wide tyres. The xDrive four-wheel-drive system means more traction when the road is slippery, which is useful given the performance on tap.

How much will it cost me? 3/5

There’s no dressing it up; the BMW 8 Series is an expensive car to buy and run, even in diesel form. The high price is probably only the starting price for most buyers, as there are lots of tempting extras on the options list. 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.

How reliable is it? 3/5

There isn’t sufficient data on the reliability of the current BMW 8 Series to make a call on it, but for reference, its predecessor, the 6 Series, fared acceptably well when compared with cars from other premium marques. Like all BMWs, the 8 Series comes with a three-year, unlimited mileage warranty that includes BMW Emergency Service.

How safe is it? 4/5

BMW generally fares well in terms of the Euro NCAP safety tests, although relatively low-volume production cars such as the 8 Series don’t tend to go through that process. Nonetheless, buyers will be reassured by the inclusion of several airbags, a strong body structure and plentiful active safety systems to help reduce the chances of a crash. 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 gives the car added traction.

How much equipment do I get? 4/5

There isn’t a lot, in terms of equipment, to differentiate the 840d from the M850i. They both get a fabulous Harman/Kardon sound system, Bluetooth, rear parking camera, an automatic parking system, head-up display, dual-zone climate control, automatic lights and wipers, ambient lighting and the (too) large BMW ‘Display Key’ as standard, while the M850i gains a few sportier details outside and in, along with the active rear differential and a sports exhaust.

Why buy? 5/5

The BMW 8 Series Coupe is a self-indulgent automotive treat for those that can afford such things. Buyers will be attracted by its arresting appearance and high-quality cabin, but they’ll also discover that it mixes long-distance driving comfort with a seriously sporty side. Other cars do this, such as the Mercedes S-Class Coupe, Porsche 911 and Aston Martin DB11, but due to its driving modes and the technology underpinning them, the 8 Series is better than most at offering the best of both worlds, with a definite bias toward being sporty. It’s a feel-good car, in essence, and you buy one because you want to and you have the means to.

Interested in buying a BMW 8 Series?