First Drive: BMW 8 Series Name Brought Back for Flagship Model

BMW's convertible, two-door coupe, and four-door sedan lineup comes with six-figure prices

The BMW 8 Series--M850i xDrive convertible

The BMW 8 Series, the resurrected name for its flagship car, was designed to compete against other high-end coupes and convertibles, such as the Mercedes-Benz CLS, Lexus LC, and Maserati Gran Turismo.

To see if—or how high—BMW has raised the bar, we rented an 840i sedan (Gran Coupe) and an M850i xDrive convertible from the company. And our team of expert testers gave these two cars hundreds of miles worth of test-drives, including along winding roads in the Connecticut countryside.

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What we rented:
2020 840i Gran Coupe
2019 BMW M850i xDrive Convertible
Powertrain:
840i: 335-hp, turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine
M850i: 523-hp, turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 engine; 8-speed automatic transmission; all-wheel drive
MSRP: 
840i: $87,800
M850i: $121,400
Options: 
840i: $ 11,880 (Driving Assistance and Drivers Assistance Pro Packages, M Sport Package, Comfort Seating Package, 20-inch wheels, glass controls, piano black trim)
M850i: $4,000 (Driving Assistance Pro package, glass controls, neck warmer, extended Shadowline trim)
Destination fee: $995
Total cost:
840i: $100,675
M850i: $126,395

CR's Take

Certainly the 8 Series costs a pretty penny, but BMW backs it up with stirring performance and driving experiences. It’s a treat to pilot just about any car with a price tag approaching or exceeding $100,000.

We were pleased that this boutique BMW is quite livable, even though there are sacrifices in access, visibility, and room. Both versions possess BMW's traditional ride and handling DNA: enjoyable and rewarding to drive, but with a firm edge to the ride. 

Buyers are treated to a beautifully trimmed interior with lots of leather and high-gloss details, and audiophiles will appreciate the standard 480-watt, 12-speaker Harman Kardon sound system.

Even though the 8 Series Gran Coupe looks long and wide, buyers sacrifice access, visibility, rear seat room, and trunk space compared with a similarly priced 5 or 7 Series sedan. The convertible only has room for two people, because the rear seats are extremely cramped for adults. The long doors make getting in or out of the two-door versions of the 8 Series a chore, and visibility with the top up is awful. This is not an easy, day-to-day car. The four-door Gran Coupe is much easier to live with day-to-day.  

The 840i’s smooth six cylinder engine gives this elegant, low slung sedan a decisive shove. The M850i’s turbocharged V8 and eight-speed automatic transmission make for a magical powertrain, with a seemingly unending supply of thrust. Activating the Sport Plus setting and using the automatic transmission’s manual mode brings a symphony of exhaust pops and crackles that left us grinning from ear to ear.