New 2018 BMW M850i xDrive Coupe: The Ultimate Bimmer Is Back!
by Martin Green
For ten years the BMW 8 series E31 was the ultimate “Bimmer.”
Although developed in the 1980s, the 8 Series ruled the 1990s (it was offered from 1989 to 1999).
A large, sleek, and remarkably understated car for a BMW, the 8 Series was more of a luxury cruiser than a true sports car – as many people prefer a BMW to be. For that same reason, I also prefer the V8 version: it feels more agile than the V12, which doesn’t seem to be able to live up to the promise of performance and excitement that so many cylinders evoke.
For a while, the 8 Series was one of the coolest cars on the block. Prince even used it in his music video for “Sexy MF.” But as time passed, the popup headlights went from being cool to looking dated, and the car never saw the new millennium: it was discontinued in 1999.
The fresh prince of BMW
For quite some time, fans of the brand have hoped to see a return of the 8 Series, and their patience has finally been rewarded. BMW showed the prototype of the new M850i xDrive Coupe for the first time at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este in 2017. I was fortunate enough to have an up-close and personal introduction to it at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance that same year.
Recently, however, it became clear to me why BMW took so long to continue the 8 Series: the Bavarian car manufacturer was aiming for perfection.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but even parked the new 8 Series has a fighting stance. You can see the raw power and immediately know this is not an ordinary BMW.
Despite being a large car, BMW has been able to make the new 8 Series look slim and fit; every fold in the bodywork seems to have been placed there by an expert tailor measuring a prizefighter for a tailored suit. Of course, the flip-up headlights have been replaced by a regular unit, but again sculpted to perfection, giving the car a generous dose of character.
Raw V8 power
The name of the new 8 Series is a bit confusing: the 850 of the previous generation was V12 powered, yet the current M850i has a V8 under the hood.
Not that there is anything to complain about up front: it is BMW’s trusted 4.4-liter V8, now with larger twin turbos and more ability to breathe thanks to a redesigned air intake.
This results in 385 kW to play with – and even more torque as the M850i brings 750 N⋅m of that to the pavement.
While I would have loved to see it fitted with a stick shift, I know that cars like this high-tech BMW no longer ever offer a manual gearbox as an option. On the M850i you get an eight-speed automatic gearbox with several settings and the ability to change gears manually through paddles behind the steering wheel.
BMW truly went for optimum performance as the gearbox is fitted with a GPS able to look at the road ahead and predict which gear will be chosen next to make it even faster.
Does this sound familiar? Indeed it should as the Rolls-Royce Wraith was the first within the BMW group to be fitted with this technology.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that with all this technology the M850i goes from 0-100 kph in just 3.6 seconds and its top speed is electronically limited, otherwise it would blast through the 250 kph it is set for now.
While the car is equipped with BMW’s version of four-wheel drive – named xDrive – it sends all the power initially to the rear wheels and only changes this when slip is detected. This gives the car that old-fashioned BMW/large coupe feel, although it also has rear-wheel steering so even around tight corners the car will feel much smaller than it is.
Fit for a king
The interior is, of course, sumptuous and, as we have come to expect from a BMW, very driver oriented. Everything is placed right where it should be, and comfortable yet firm sports seats keep you well positioned even on rougher rides.
A heads-up display is standard, but a 1375-watt Bowers & Wilkins sounds system is a desirable option. Of course, the entire dashboard is digital as this has become the new standard in this segment. And the whole cabin is fitted with the finest leather as far as the eye can see.
There is even a practical side to the M850i xDrive Coupe, or at least as practical as one can expect from a high-performance, luxury coupe. It not only features a luggage capacity of 420 liters, but it even has a split-folding back seat to increase this capacity even more.
This makes a long road trip not only far more desirable, but also more comfortable!
The ultimate Bimmer
When I say that the new 8 Series is the ultimate Bimmer, I mean this mainly from a personal perspective: I have a thing for large coupes successfully balancing that fine line between comfort and performance.
The M850i xDrive Coupe most certainly fits the bill, even though I’m sure some people would prefer it to be more of a die-hard sports car; but even those people will soon be able to enjoy the M8.
If you don’t really need all that performance or just want to put a lot of miles on your super coupe? BMW will also release the 840d xDrive Coupe with a 340 kw six-cylinder inline diesel.
German media has already mentioned that a convertible is also in the pipeline, which is something the former generation of the 8 Series never had. This would make sense, as Mercedes is doing good business with its S-Class convertible, which is also unchallenged by German competition unless you were to put a Porsche 911 convertible in the same class.
There are also rumors about the 8 Series being introduced as a four-door Gran Coupé. While this would totally fit with BMW’s tactic to have a car for every niche imaginable, it would, in my opinion, reflect negatively on the coupe and convertible to come.
First of all there is the 7 Series for those who really want four doors, and a Gran Coupé version of that car might make more sense.
But let the rumors be what the rumors are and for now enjoy the magnificent piece of machinery that the new BMW M850i xDrive Coupe is!
For more information, please visit www.bmwusa.com/future-vehicles/8-series.
Quick Facts BMW M850i xDrive Coupe
Engine: 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8
Power: 385 kW
Torque: 750 N⋅m of torque available between 1,800 und 4,600 rpm, four-wheel drive
Transmission: 8-speed automatic with manual shifting mode and GPS-aided gear prediction
Acceleration: 0-100 kph in 3.6 seconds
Top speed: 250 kph (electronically limited)
Base price: expected around $125,000
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Also published on Medium.