Road test: we drive BMW's mighty eight, a next-gen V8 coupe
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For BMW New Zealand’s most luxurious coupe, there is no need for words to label it, just a number: 8.
Like the other cars in BMW’s lineup, such as the 5 Series, the large coupe used to have suffix “Series” after it, but the German manufacturer dispensed with that for this latest generation.
BMW NZ recently launched the second generation 8 coupe and convertible with Driven testing the M850i xDrive coupe, priced from $259,400. The 8 takes on Audi’s A8 and Mercedes-Benz’s S-Class in the large luxury car stakes but its appearance is far from the usual BMW looks.
It has a long, low slung appearance with a large grille dominating the front of the coupe with sculpted sides and broad rear arches.
Our model had the option of a carbon fibre roof with a double-bubble section that enhances the coupe’s appearance.
But it’s that long bonnet that sets it apart from its power sibling, the M5, and that hood needs to be big to hold the stonking eight-cylinder petrol engine, producing 390kW of power and 750Nm of torque.
It had 0-100km/h in 3.7s and 10.4l/100km but I found it in the teens for fuel efficiency, mainly as I had it sport mode on the motorway so I could enjoy the engine and exhaust noises.
Paired with BMW’s xDrive, the 8 is more a grand tourer than sports car with the road handling assured, even when taking on tight corners at speed on country roads.
Inside, the cabin is pure luxury thanks to the stitched leather seats while it carries over the HUD, instruments and centre screens from the likes of the 3 Series. Unlike the newly launched 3 Series, it doesn’t get latest voice assistance but it does have the similar programme to the X5. So, if you want to change radio stations, alter the cabin temperature, find out the outside temperature or navigate somewhere, the voice-activated “Hey BMW” will do it for you.
The 8 now gets Apple CarPlay over Bluetooth but I found it was glitchy at times and I had difficulty listening to my podcasts (hey, they were humorous ones, rather than Ted talks so I wasn’t expanding my brain).
Due to the low, sloping roofline, the cabin space is limited so much so that when my 1.54m daughter Grace sat in the 8 coupe for the first time, she asked if I could remove the roof to give her more headroom.
I said if it was a convertible, I could. Bless her. I’d like to put it down to her thinking the carbon fibre roof looked like a soft top but no, she’s just not into cars.
To test the rear seats, I made Grace sit in the back. Again, even she struggled for head and legroom. To really torture my kids, I made my 1.778m son Henry sit in the back for a 20-minute trip and he had to sit with his legs sidewards and head against the window.
Making up for the lack of rear passenger space, is a huge, wide, deep boot. Fold down those two rear seats and you’ll have heaps of storage — ideal for a weekend away.
And what is it like for long trips? In 50km/h limits, the 8 is perfectly well behaved. It even sits quietly on the motorway in comfort mode, but for real fun, switch it to sport and see how much attention it then gets from fellow motorists.
It holds the gear long in sport mode, giving you more legs for the eight-speed auto transmission.
Due to the 8 being low to the ground, and weighing about 1900kg, it can take on challenging overtaking moves with ease on the motorway, and has the 8-cylinder engine to give you effortless performance when you’re ahead of the pack.
And once you are ahead of the pack, click on the advanced cruise control and relax as the 8 does the work for you; keeping you at a set speed and distance from other vehicles. It also warns of other obstacles such as pedestrians, with a red outline of a person appearing in your HUD to warn if someone is too close to the vehicle when you’re driving.