By Ntsako Mthethwa
While we were in the Western Cape, BMW introduced the new 8 Series Coupe and fortunately enough, we had a go at it.
It was the year 1990 when the first BMW 8 Series was introduced only as a two-door coupe, sadly, it was axed in 1999 because it sold poorly. To prepare a way for the new 8 Series, the Munich-based carmaker discontinued the 6 Series coupe and convertible variants.
BMW says the 8 Series Gran Coupe, M8 and M8 Convertible will join the line up at a later stage, we only got to drive the brutal M850i with the rear-wheel-drive biased xDrive system.
Boasting a sports-car-like design, the M850i also features a low-slung design, an elongated silhouette with a slim window graphic and a roofline flowing elegantly into the rear with distinctive “double-bubble” contouring, a long wheelbase and a wide track. It is also the first BMW model to spot slim LED headlight. Our test unit was fitted with optional Laserlight with variable road illumination and Selective Beam.
The BMW8 Series Coupe is 4,843 mm in length, 1,902 mm in width, 1,341 mm in height and a wheelbase of 2,822 mm.
BMW did a great job inside with an easy layout and high-quality cabin finishing. There are newly developed sports seats upholstered as standard in Vernasca leather. The door shoulders and instrument panel get leather treatment.
The latest offering is four-seats big and there is enough head and legroom in the front seats, conversely, rear seating position and legroom are very tight and are best left for children unless the front passengers move their seats all the way forward, compromising their seating position.
Even with the sleek lines, the new M850i comes with a sizeable boot space measured at 420-litres which should be good during conventional trips, thanks to the foldable 50:50 rear backrest.
Our test unit came fitted with telephony with wireless charging, climate seats, Bowers & Wilkins Diamond Surround Sound System, as well as glass applications for selected controls.
The M850i comes standard with BMW Operating System 7.0 display and control concept, a 10.25-inch Control Display, gesture control, touch display, head-up display, iDrive controller, Live Cockpit Professional and a 12.3-inch display in the centre.
While the M850i xDrive isn’t purely an M car, it is worthy to say that it has the qualities to make you feel like you are driving one. It lurks an-all new 4.4-litre V8 engine with a 50 kW of power increase over the engine it replaces. It churns 390 kW of power between 5,500 and 6,000 rpm. Maximum torque of 750 Nm is available over a wide rev range from 1,800 to 4,600 rpm. All that amount of power is accessed via an improved eight-speed Steptronic Sport transmission.
BMW says the M850i xDrive Coupe can dash from 0 to 100 km/h in just 3.7 seconds, and we have no grounds to doubt them as the car felt speedier than that.
On the road, the M850i gives you all the looks but here is the thing, the car is better as a cruiser and not a sports car. Our launch routes took us through some challenging mountain passes and the car stayed tight and composed although steering wheel response wasn’t the way we could have liked it. It drives fairly well on the open road and it cruises with style with impressive pulling power in all eight gears.
Select Sport+ mode and this setting tightens the suspension, sharpens the steering and throttle response accompanied by a thrilling exhaust cacophony. Body lean is minimal as we were able to attack corners even at the highest speeds, thanks to the xDrive system and huge 20-inch tyres, the car handles and stays in touch with the road.
The M850i xDrive features standard four-wheel steering and what it does is the rear wheels turn in the opposite direction to the fronts at low speeds – which is ideal during parking manoeuvres and cornering.
Safety is top notch, it comes fitted with numerous cutting-edge driver assistance systems such as active cruise control with stop and go function, steering and lane control assistant, lane change warning and lane departure warning systems, lane keeping assistant with side collision protection and evasion aid, BMW night vision, as well as crossing traffic warning, priority warning and wrong-way warning systems.
Last word. While we are waiting for the M8 and entry-level 8 Series to launch probably later in the year, the M850i has the hype and go to let you feel like you are driving a pure M car. Driving abilities are spot on and should really put a smile on your face while giving you the reason to wake up every morning to just put it through its paces. At R1,887,827, it comes with a CO2 tax and a five-year/100 000 km maintenance plan.
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