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Sporty and practical

Justin Harper
Justin Harper • 5 min read
Sporty and practical
Will the relaunched BMW 8 Series be more successful than its predecessor? The proof is in the driving.
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Will the relaunched BMW 8 Series be more successful than its predecessor? The proof is in the driving.

SINGAPORE (Aug 26): There were a few good things going for the new BMW 8 Series before I even started my test drive. The number 8 is lucky in Asian culture, and the car was officially launched globally during the Chinese New Year celebrations. Also from the images I had seen of the 8 Series, it looked fantastically sporty for a large sedan. On top of that, the 8 Series was first launched in 1990, the year I passed my driving test.

So far, so good. But not many people will know much about the old 8 Series because it was discontinued in the late 1990s. It seems the V8 and V12-powered two-door coupés were not that popular at the time.

Fast forward to 2019, and BMW has decided to relaunch the 8 Series, having spotted a gap in its current but already-­vast lineup. So, while this is a ­completely new model for many motorists, it is technically the second-generation 8 Series. While it has a natural rival in the Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupé, BMW has set its sights even higher on cars such as the Aston Martin DB11 and Bentley Continental GT. Given its level of luxury and price tag (slightly over $600,000), I can see why.

The 8 Series has the highest-ranking status within the BMW portfolio, and like the Z8 and i8, is reserved for exceptionally sporty cars designed to fire emotions. This new 8 Series coupé is a new chapter for the brand, as it adds its weight to the luxury segment, but with a very sporty vibe.

I was test driving the M850i, which I knew was already going to be a powerful beast. M is the motorsports division of BMW, and these editions always pack a punch when it comes to speed and performance. The M850i is a sexy looking car, with its long bonnet, low-slung body and muscular rear. It looks good from any angle and certainly whet my appetite for the actual test drive. A car this sleek and sporty looking will set expectations high for any driver.

There is a lot of raw power under the bonnet, courtesy of the M upgrade. A 4.4-litre V8, twin-turbocharged engine sounds very powerful, and believe me it is. It delivers a riotous 530hp and 750Nm of torque.

Spider-Man was once told: “With great power comes great responsibility”. But even a middle-aged father of two like me could not help but floor this beast to see what it was like. The torque was close to neck-breaking, in a good way of course.

But the speed and raw power is only half the story. This 8 Series is also designed as a grand tourer, so the ride is comfortable and luxurious at any speed and in any condition. If you play around with the different driving modes, you can change the experience, making it even sportier and noisier in Sport Plus.

It gets you from a standing start to 100kph in a mere 3.7 seconds, which I confess I attempted when possible. Sportiness is all well and good, but some people also want their new car to be agile and practical. The M850i has an all-wheel drive system, and is incredibly manoeuverable for a car of this size. It dances along the tarmac rather than plodding.

For me, it is the sporty undertones that make this a standout car. It reminded me of an upsized Z4, BMW’s compact sports car that has also just been revamped. Of course, a car of this stature and price cannot be a one-trick pony and just be sporty.

The cabin is plush and luxurious, but with a low seating position. You also get newly developed sports seats that come with built-in ventilation. As part of the premium luxury experience, the gear shifter is a sparkling diamond-like creation and the seats are in soft Merino leather.

The vehicle comes with BMW Laserlight headlights, the slimmest headlights it offers and with blue accents inside them. A state-of-the-art 10in control display and even cooler Harman Kardon surround system with 16 speakers highlight the high level of technology in the 8 Series.

The surround view camera system is particularly impressive, offering pano­ramic and 3D views of the car. These come in useful when parking this big beast of a car.

The M850i may be a hefty car but hides its size very well under a sporty façade. Its impressive level of technology and luxury make it hard for you to get out of the cabin into the real world. I can see this upmarket coupé being lapped up by executives across Singapore, letting everyone know they have arrived.

BMW M850i

$612,888 including COE

Engine: 4,395cc, V8, twin-turbo

Power/torque: 530hp/750Nm

Fuel consumption: 10.4L/100km

0 to 100kph: 3.7 seconds

Top speed: 250kph

Justin Harper is a freelance journalist with a passion for all things fast

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