The BMW M8 makes one hell of a primary impression. A vibrant pink M8 Competitors Coupe lurking within the pit lane at Portugal’s Portimão Circuit is equal components elegant and imposing. Underneath the hood there is a twin-turbocharged V8 with 617 horsepower, permitting for a Three-second Zero-to-60-mph acceleration time. It is a large automotive with large energy. And Portimão is the proper place to place it by way of its paces.
All M8s use the identical engine: BMW’s Four.Four-liter, twin-turbo S63 V8. In the usual M8, it produces 600 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque. Go for the dearer Competitors mannequin examined right here and also you get the aforementioned 617 hp, however the identical 553 lb-ft. No matter output, the M8 makes use of an eight-speed automated transmission with steering wheel-mounted shift paddles. All that brute power runs to the bottom by way of a rear-biased all-wheel-drive system, which may torque-vector throughout the rear axle for improved cornering grip.
The M8 Competitors will set you again $146,000 — a $13,000 enhance over the usual M8 Coupe. However you do get extra than simply a further 17 hp for that not-insignificant upcharge. The Competitors pack additionally provides distinctive 20-inch wheels, an M Sport exhaust, completely different coloured seat belts (for no matter that is price) and a Monitor profile for the M drive settings. Monitor mode fully disables all driver-assistance programs and turns off the radio and middle infotainment show. The 12.Three-inch digital gauge cluster and head-up show go minimalist on this setting, as effectively, solely giving the driving force an important info they want.
Now, one small caveat: Whereas a plump gallery of sunny summertime on-location photographs accompanies this evaluation, they had been really taken just a few days earlier than my observe check. Once I confirmed up at Portimão on a Saturday morning in September, it had simply rained, with bits of drizzle and mist nonetheless within the air. Not precisely very best track-day circumstances, however as I quickly found, the moist climate afforded many alternatives for me to expertise the subtle driveline tech discovered within the new M8.
By the point you cross the beginning/end line after a reconnaissance lap, the M8 is already carrying an amazing quantity of pace. And as you head down the hill towards Flip 1, the automotive’s rump squirms a short time you trailbrake into the nook, earlier than rolling again on the throttle by way of Flip Three (BMW’s observe configuration bypasses Flip 2). Meaty, 15.7-inch carbon-ceramic entrance discs can help you scrub off a ton of pace whereas braking late earlier than Flip Four, which sits on the backside of a hill, and the pavement is particularly moist. Even with the traction management absolutely enabled, the rear-biased all-wheel drive permits for loads of back-end slip by way of this nook. On later laps whereas switching to the less-aggressive 4WD Sport setting, you possibly can maintain an extended slide as you make your means up the hill towards Flip 5. Like on the four-door M5, the M8 has a devoted two-wheel-drive mode, however contemplating how a lot freedom the 4WD Sport setting offers you, I would not need to use it in these sufficiently moist circumstances.
A fast phrase about these brakes: Whereas there is not any arguing towards the goodness of the highly effective, carbon-ceramic setup, I am not completely offered on the brake-by-wire tech BMW’s fitted to the M8. It isn’t even half as unhealthy because the horribly tuned model of this setup Alfa Romeo makes use of within the Giulia and Stelvio, however there’s nonetheless some weirdness to the sensation you get by way of the pedal. To its credit score, BMW says the brake-by-wire tech saves about Four.5 kilos over a standard setup, and permits drivers to alter between Consolation and Sport settings, which differ the brake pedal and quantity of suggestions. However in my expertise, the 2 programs type of really feel like a wash, and weight-savings apart, this looks like an answer to one thing that is not really an issue. I am unable to recall any current BMWs having unsatisfactory brakes; why repair what is not damaged?
Flip 6 is rather like Flip Four, and the automated transmission eagerly downshifts below braking as you method this left-hand hairpin. Small inputs by way of the thick-rimmed, heavy steering wheel can help you properly string collectively Turns 7 and eight, earlier than a fast dab of brakes earlier than going left into Flip 9. I really like the load of the M8’s steering, and the way rapidly the entrance tires reply to motion. However just like the eight Collection Gran Coupe, I am left wanting a bit extra suggestions, particularly on-center.
The V8’s mid-range punch is ample for accelerating up the hill to Flip 10, and I really like how eagerly the automated transmission holds gears all the way in which as much as redline as I head towards Flip 11. At Flip 12, the 4WD Sport mode once more permits for a little bit of slide as I coast down the hill towards Flip 13, and the exhaust roars as I roll again onto the throttle earlier than one other late-brake entry into the Flip 14 hairpin. Via Flip 15 and the lengthy sweeper that’s Flip 16, progressive throttle inputs hold the M8 steady, and it is moist sufficient that I am grateful for the usual xDrive mode’s four-wheel traction. All of the whereas, even within the rain, the M8 feels completely unflappable, prefer it has a lot extra to provide.
Nice because the M8 Competitors Coupe is whereas lapping Portimão, I am unable to converse to its public-road prowess. As an alternative, that is the place I obtained to expertise one other a part of the M8 portfolio: the Convertible, which can also be provided in base and Competitors guises, for $142,500 and $155,500, respectively. The final chapter within the M8 story, the Gran Coupe, will bow on the 2019 Los Angeles Auto Present in November. And very similar to the usual eight Collection Gran Coupe, anticipate this physique type to account for about 50% of all M8 gross sales. At $130,000 to start out, it’s going to be the most affordable M8 of the bunch.
Except for, you recognize, the roof, the M8 Convertible isn’t any completely different than the M8 Coupe. It is about 265 kilos heavier than its hardtop equal, and BMW says this ends in a really small discount in preliminary acceleration time. Nonetheless, I am speaking a few large, four-seat convertible that may scoot to 60 mph in as little as Three.1 seconds, so do not for a minute suppose that the droptop offers up any actual efficiency to its coupe counterpart.
On the hilly Portuguese roads between the Portimão circuit and my lodge close to Faro, the M8 is a stunner, even on this chilly, damp day. The Competitors spec is likely to be essentially the most hardcore, however in Consolation mode on clean highways, the journey high quality is supple. Change it to Sport or Sport Plus and the distinction is minimal, the M8 as soon as once more by no means sacrificing grace regardless of super corering poise.
With the highest up, the M8 Convertible is completely cozy and quiet. With the highest down, nonetheless, it is surprisingly loud. Whereas different trendy convertibles do an excellent job of channeling air across the cabin to disrupt the passengers (and their hairdos) as little as attainable, the M8 does not actually excel right here. At 70 mph on the freeway, I’ve to shout simply to have a dialog with a man sitting lower than one foot away from me — and that is with the facet home windows up.
However, identical to each different eight Collection mannequin, the M8’s cabin is completely beautiful. From the quilted leather-based on the comfortable, supportive seats, to the high-quality metallic finishes on the dashboard and middle console, this can be a cabin that oozes class. Within the convertible, BMW presents a neck-warmer, much like Mercedes’ Airscarf characteristic, which channels heat air by way of the seat and out a small vent slightly below the headrest. For those who ever plan to drive your M8 with the highest down on a crisp fall day — and you must, that is the perfect form of convertible climate — this can be a must-have choice.
The M8’s cabin tech carries over from the remainder of the eight Collection vary, that means you get BMW’s newest iDrive 7 infotainment system housed on a 10.2-inch central show. You’ll be able to management iDrive by way of the knob on the middle console, by talking by way of voice instructions or just by touching the display. And whereas the menu construction can generally be a bit arduous to navigate, I’ve to commend iDrive for its fast responses to inputs and unbelievable performance. BMW’s synthetic intelligence tech makes this an excellent strong system — simply say “Hey, BMW” to entry a variety of connected-car features. And whereas all M8s characteristic Apple CarPlay compatibility, I am going to as soon as once more level out that Android Auto is a no-go. (I am going to cease mentioning it when BMW begins together with it.)
In typical BMW style, there are a variety of driver-assistance programs out there, however most of them will value you. You solely get ahead collision warning with automated emergency braking as commonplace tools. In order for you blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning, a surround-view digicam, parking assistant, rear cross-traffic alert or full-speed adaptive cruise management, you will must pony up for one in every of BMW’s choice packages. Contemplating these are $130,000 automobiles we’re speaking about, that is nickel-and-diming at its most interesting.
However actually, the M8 itself is an train in upselling. The M8 Competitors is an admirable performer, however most consumers will not ever take their automobiles to the observe, and the 17-hp improve and extra Monitor mode will not make a distinction to them on the road. That leaves you with the usual M8, which in itself looks as if an excellent package deal, however I am undecided it is a sufficiently big step up from the beautiful M850i, which makes use of the identical Four.Four-liter V8, however with 523 hp as an alternative of 600. With out driving the automobiles again to again, it is arduous to say if the M8 displays a noticeably extra aggressive on-road demeanor — not less than, one price paying an additional $21,100 for. When you’ve got the money, the M8 is a severely interesting package deal, even when it simply speaks to the inherent greatness the eight Collection has at its core.
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