EIGHT COUPE BY A FACTOR OF FOUR DOORS: it used to be that even practical flagship luxury sedan owners aspired to the less practical flagship personal grand touring coupe. Hence, a BMW flagship 7-series sedan driver needs to aspire to a more stylish model of superior series designation. This logic explains the Bavarian luxury brands recent adoption of even number series to designate the coupe versions of odd number designated sedans. However the logic becomes fuzzier when the same even number is applied to a fastback sedan, calling such Gran Coupe.
MOTOSPORT DIVISION BY FACTOR OF EIGHT: Moving away from the trend of subtle flagship grand tourers, BMW’s M Division design team went all in sensuously bold with fangs, overhangs, buttresses and bustles on their Concept 8 coupe unveiled in 2017 at Italy’s Lake Como. In doing so the luxury marque brought the 8 Series designation back from a 20 year slumber.
MOVES LIKE NO OTHER “M”: Filling in a lineup already consisting of equal parts sleek and powerful 2 door coupe and convertible, Bäyerischen Motor Werken Motorsport Division unveils the latest 2020 BMW M8 Gran Coupe ultra high performance flagship four door coupe.
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WHAT: 2020 BMW M8 Gran Coupe xDrive G16 high performance flagship luxury grand touring sedan, built upon a 7.9″ lengthening of the Carbon Core infused G14 convertible and G15 coupe CLAR platform variants. The modular steel, aluminum and carbon fiber intensive platform, with 48 V electrical system, can host hybrid and pure electric powertrains. In the least it’s a successor to the F06 M6 Gran Coupe. The last time a the 8-Series designation appeared on a flagship BMW grand tourer was in the 1990s with the E31 coupe.
Standard Power: S63B44T4 variant of the N63 engine family. Longitudinal dual liquid-to-air intercooled twin-scroll turbocharged, 4.4L DOHC 48V DI gas V-8, start/ stop + F90 BMW M5 upgraded 8-spd. ZF M8HP76 design torque converter planetary transmission w/ shift paddles + viscous clutch differential all-wheel drive, rear E-LSD.
- = 600 hp/ 553 lb-ft @ 1800 rpm = +9 hp / -37 lb-ft vs. 2021 Audi RS7, -20 hp / -51 lb-ft vs. Porsche Panamera Turbo S
- dual air intake charge coolers
- separate turbocharger oil pan extension with cross-flow anti-starvation sump
- Two dedicated steering wheel mounted customizable “M” mode switches
WHAT (A) STYLING DIFFERENCE: The new G15 8-Series is devoid of the telltale wedge shape and folding headlamps of the last BMW to bear the 8-Series title, the mid-1990s E31. In the G16 8-Series Gran Coupe, BMW DesignWork’s John Buckingham has at the very least excised the last vestiges of Chris Bangle’s influences on the last F06 6-series.
• OUT FRONT: Swept-back and scooped: Pulled cat’s eyes headlamps are cradled in mid fascia lateral forks. Outward arrowed darkened double kinked vertical slat twin kidney grille makes an indelible mark. Power dome flanked by twin valleys fill the clamshell hood. A splayed lower fascia consists of three segements of darkened honeycomb air inlets and subtle lower airdam . with corner parenthesis splitting similar dark latticing. A subtle dark air dam sits below.
• ON THE SIDES: An aft fender heat extractor carries a trapezoidal “M 8” emblem. From there a concave valley follows along the Coke-bottle fuselage. Sail panel power folding wing mirrors have an illusion of racy thin dual arms. Integrated side skirting flares match the body. Frameless door windows evoke a lightness. A subtle rear hip imparts is topped off by a considerable D-pillar kink. The sharply raked front glass meets a cabon fiber roof with center valley, descending with a coupe’s silhouette.
• AROUND BACK: √ Prominent duck bill trunk lid; √ Outward flared wrap around hockey stick layered LED light bars cinch the flared mid tail; √ Deep lower bumper license plate “U” valley; √ Lower bumper corner twin horizontal creases meet vertical fanged red reflectors; √ Rear bottom diffuser splits dual corner polished stainless steel twin exhaust outlets.
WHY: Motorsport Ultimate Driving Machine four door by Factor of Eight is a foursome grand touring rocket.
WHEN: On-Sale (in the U.S.) since Spring 2020
WHERE: BMW new vehicle dealers
WHERE MADE: Dingolfing, Bavaria, Germany
WHERE TO: Swap out the sticky in dry 3-season Michelin Super Sports for some dedicated snows to be secure on packed snowy roads. Swap in some stickier Sport Cups for track days.
HOW ROADWORTHY: Rumored to be the last pure gasoline powered BMW M-Series V-8 before a move to something with battery electric assistance, the potency is of this latest tune of S63B is undisputable. A gander at the huge electric intake chillers underhood hints at aggressive intake fuel rate, air flow, cooling and oiling measures. That and electric wastegates endow the twin Honeywell turbos with 25 psi of vicious boost.
• Depressing the glowing illuminated ignition button marks a snorting bull at the corral gate. Around town the burble can barely be heard in the cocooned cockpit. Once the pilot double tugs the left oversized magnesium dorsal steering wheel shift paddle, then steps into the throttle sending the virtual tachometer needle past 4000 rpm, a reassuring big-cat growl is unleashed. No matter its most aggressive setting the ZF 8HP50 eight-speed snaps off snappy helical gear swaps without the banging exhibited by AMG, even as track mode is engaged. Viscous coupled all-wheel drive is aboard to keep the big M8 Gran Coupe smoking its rear rubber on launch. In the case of any desire to sample the drift potential there are dual customizable “M-Mode” switches on the steering wheel wherefrom rear wheel drive can be selected and the electronic limited slip differential dialed back. To some dismay, an artful tunnel arm console toggle transmission selector remains a fail in its attempt to imitate some conventional manual gearbox shift-lever movements.
• Two steering wheel mounted red “M Mode” switches = access center console stored, I-drive selected customized sport / track settings, including available, rear wheel drive lock mode for drifting.
• Center console drive control switches include: M Mode, Settings, variable exhaust.
• The stiff new CLAR architecture admirably contends with the mass of the M8 Gran Touring employing rapid variable damping and taut when needed air springing with still compliant bushings. Clearly missioned as a grand tourer, it delivers grace under enthusiastic driving pressure. Despite such high effort and tenacity of the Michelin Pilot Sport 4S’s helm responsiveness could stand a few more swipes on the sharpening stone. Common to the type, the optional carbon ceramic brake rotors unpredictably vary from lackadaisical to tarmac anchoring, withstand any heat abuse thrown their way.
HOW FAR: 21 combined miles per gallon fuel economy; 520 highway miles range
HOW BIG/ LITTLE: √ Functionally 2+2 seating. The 2020 M8 Gran Coupe is not for those either of wide girth or great height, especially in Row 2. Rear seat middle hump slims hospitableness to small children.
– For Comparison’s Sake:
- 119.2″-inch Wheelbase: 3.9″ > 2021 Audi RS7, 3.1″ > Porsche Panamera Turbo S
- 2nd Row legroom: 0.4″ < 2021 Audi RS7, Unk. < Porsche Panamera Turbo S
HOW USEFUL: √ Proper tall and deep trunk; √ Dense pile trunk lining √ Power trunk lid; √ Full pass through 40/20/40% split folding 2nd Row seat backs + dual cargo bay cable releases; √ Mouse-fur lined, damped action glove box.
- -1 Trails the sportback competitions in cargo space; Obtrusively thick trunk lid swing arms, No overhead console retracting sunglass bin, Center console front wireless device charging bin choked by dual cupholders.
For Comparison’s Sake:
Nominal cargo capacity: -48% vs. 2021 Audi RS7, -38% vs. Porsche Panamera Turbo S
HOW SAFE: √ 10 airbags; √ IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus (G30 5-series tested); √ Surround view cameras; sonar front & rear Park Distance Control; √ Blind spot, rear cross traffic & lane departure warning; √ Auto parking brake hold; √ Auto high beam Laser semiconductor diode headlamps; √ Heads-Up display w/ sport mode;
+1 Parking Assist Plus (opt.) executes precise active parallel & perpendicular parking maneuvers, estimating door swing in surround camera.
-1 Forward collision & pedestrian avoidance braking; full adaptive cruise control, lane keep centering, lane change assist optional ($1700) in a $130,000 luxury car.
HOW PEOPLE FRIENDLY: The Bavarians have gotten their act together filling the place with bespoke materials even in standard guise. Indeed there are system settings out the yazoo, though a more streamlined 7th generation IDrive takes out lots of the tech anxiety. Display graphics are harmonious and color schemes easy on the eyes. What physical switchgear there is feels robustly enjoyable. Door lock and seat memory controls are appropriately grouped on the door panels. Surface graining does its best to be authentic with seams so uniform. Dense pile carpets and thick padded sueded upper surface coverings make for impressive sound deadening.
√ Heated & cooled 20-way power front sport bucket seats, w/ torso & lumbar adjust, manual knee extenders, 2-setting driver’s memory; √ 4 power windows, full express; √ 3-Zone auto climate control w/ 2nd Row controls; √ Power folding wing mirrors; √ Power soft door close; √ Comfort approach access keyless entry; √ Puddle lamps.
- +1 Power tilt/ telescoping heated steering wheel; heated rear seats.
Cool Gizmo(s): ♦ 12.3“-inch LCD Live Cockpit Pro w/ configurable full color raceway gauges and M Sport display; ♦ Gesture proximity media display control – clockwise finger rotation mimics turning the volume dial, pointed lateral hand thumb advances or retreats track / station; ♦ Heads up display w/ navigation map and sport mode;
• Special Mention Doodad(s): ♦ Caring Car with both Relax (Orange sunset) and Vitalize (Green pasture) modes, provides 2:46 of mood music, varying climate settings, display image and varying intensity mood lighting.
Details Done Right: ♦ Brushed stainless steel inlays, switchgear, speaker covers; ♦ Carbon fiber center console panels; ♦ Full exposed soft material surfaces; ♦ Contrast paneled cross stitched, quilted Merino leather seating & upper door panels; ♦ Contrasting seam stitched dark leather dash-top; ♦ Sueded covered pillars, rear deck, headliner; ♦ Full dashboard & door panel ambient LEDs; ♦ Dense pile cabin, transmission tunnel & cargo area carpeting; ♦ Illuminated twin- kidney; ♦ “M8” illuminated rocker panel emblems.
• Stand Out Detail(s): ♦ Sparkle illuminated front door diamond coated audio speakers & panels; ♦ “M8” illuminated upper front seat emblems; ♦ Power front rising headrests raise seat back hard shells.
Nearly Non-Descript: -1 Small sized climate buttons, cluttered center console switches.
HOW “APP” -LICABLE: √ 12.3″ iDrive 7 touch, remote & voice controlled LCD infotainment screen; √ iDrive 7 center console rotary controller, finger script touch pad & primary function buttons; √ Rotary audio volume dial, tuning & preset switches; √ Bluetooth, hands-free communications; √ Voice-to-text SMS messaging; √ Voice command/ guidance 3-D HDD GPS navigation; √ HD weather, traffic; √ Apple CarPlay; √ BMW Connected Apps using virtual cloud for appointments; √ USB x 4, 12V x 3.; √ Qi Wireless charging tray.
Audibly: √ 16 speaker, 1700 Watts, 10 channel Bowers & Wilkins Diamond DTS 7.1 RDS HD radio audio = tonally neutral, deep in presence, free of colorization.
By Subscription: √ SiriusXM (90 days incl.); BMW Connected Services √ 4G LTE by AT&T;
HOW MUCH: $153,150 = as tested 2020 BMW M8 Gran Coupe xDrive suggested retail price (includes one day track instruction at BMW Performance Center)
WHAT’S MISSING: A set of interior matching luggage, Android Auto projection
ANY COMPETITION: 2021 Audi RS7: +1 Google Earth virtual cockpit, cargo space; Mercedes Benz AMG 63 4-Door Coupe: +1 engine roar
FINAL WORD: Possibly the final rendition of Germanic gas powered Ultimate Driving Machines before full electrification takes over.
Contributing Editor: P. Stamatis