RE: BMW M8 Competition | Driven

RE: BMW M8 Competition | Driven

Wednesday 9th October

BMW M8 Competition | Driven

Can the most powerful series production M car yet justify being the most expensive? Time to find out



Large, fast, sporty BMWs have always been somewhat of a tough sell, both to company and customer. M Division has never touched a 7 Series, despite decades of AMG S-Classes. The spiritual precursor to this car, the amazing M8 Prototype, never made production because such a potent V12 8 Series was never deemed as profitable in the early 1990s. And, let's be honest, once spending more than Β£100,000 on a car, there's an argument to say that the blue and white roundel might not cut it in the prestige stakes - BMW themselves admitting this is M's "first foray into the world of luxury motoring".

There's plenty to be a little wary of in assessing an M8 Competition, then, before any of the, um, competition is even mentioned. On the other hand, there should be much in the way of encouragement as well. BMW believes these cars (Coupe and Convertible for now, with swoopy Gran Coupe on the way) will "deliver purisitic M feeling in a luxury class car". Make of that what you will, but there's lot of tangible stuff to be enthused by. This is a lower, more rigid, more focussed car than the M5 with which it shares so much (and which is so damn good), and featuring a host of bespoke parts: new engine mounts, more bracing, forged suspension arms and more. If it can drive as well (if not a bit better) than an M5, while delivering the additional luxury and sense of occasion befitting its price, then the M8 Competition could be a successful first foray into luxury M cars. Especially so given the 8 Series has been well, if not rapturously, received - nothing like a memorable flagship to boost perceived image.

Can you really call a car a Competition, talk of its "precise interaction between powertrain, chassis technology and aerodynamics", suggest there's been influence from an M8 GTE race car, then make a 2,085kg cabriolet version? A cynic would suggest not. Still, BMW is hardly the first to label a car disingenuously, and a bad name does not a bad car make. It just irks a tad.


So although the M8 Convertible doesn't feel like a competition car with either an upper or lower-case 'c' - for some it won't even qualify as an M car - that doesn't stop it feeling like a very well-engineered and immensely impressive one. BMW's CLAR architecture, which combines carbon, aluminium and steel, gives the 8 Series solid enough foundations that lopping off a roof makes precious little difference. If there are shakes and wobbles, they don't make their presence felt inside, the cabin as peaceful and undisturbed as anything else in the market. Roof raised almost silently, it's a coupe, with nothing discernible from a regular hard top; roof down it's brilliant, wind-in-the-hair entertainment on offer with none of the typical drawbacks.

There genuinely is entertainment, too. While everyone will have their own definition of what an M car really is, there's no denying the M8's innate talents. Of course it's fast, because that 4.4 V8 could power an aircraft carrier and still be brisk, but there's genuine dynamic reward as well. There's more configuration than ever, with an M Mode to tinker with assistance systems and displays, plus the adjustable brake pedal feel, along with the usual parameters, yet a feeling of cohesion as well that isn't always present in M cars. What does that mean? It means that the Sport steering setting isn't blighted by gloopiness, the Sport+ suspension mode doesn't reduce the car to a jittery mess, and the Sport brake mode isn't as obtrusive as could be expected. They could be more feelsome - what brakes couldn't? - but aren't to be as worried about as feared. Point being that the drop-top M8 is really quite good, sufficiently more energetic and dynamic than a standard 850 on the road to feel like more than just a big engine in a big cabriolet. You'll want to string me up for saying this, but there is some contemporary M car feeling to it - and that's intended as a positive...

The focus though, of course, is on the M8 Competition coupe, reserved only for driving on the Portimao race track. So yeah, another highly representative test - not one that anybody is going turn down though. BMW has two 'M1' and 'M2' presets programmed for the test cars, the first featuring 4WD Sport and the DSC in its mid-way setting, the dampers in Sport, the powertrain set the same and Comfort for the steering. M2 has the DSC off but regular 4WD engaged, then everything else upped a notch: dampers and powertrain in Sport Plus, steering in Sport. In both configurations the brake pedal feel remained in Sport; there'll be no further tinkering today, either, because Portimao doesn't let up much, and rear-drive skids will have to wait for another time.


In a limited time on circuit, the M8 Competition is really impressive. It doesn't possess the agility of something like a 911, chiefly because it weighs so much more, though it feels much more suited to the treatment than something like a DB11, Continental GT or S-Class.

Even on a track as vast as Portimao (and weighing two tonnes), the M8 is monstrously fast, seemingly regardless of gear or revs. It sounds better than an M5 at any gear or revs, too, a lot more V8 than speaker manipulation seemingly present. The eight-speed automatic is the perfect partner, dutifully swapping ratios as required, even into the big braking zones; if a torque converter can be this convincing already, and as smooth as it is on the road, it's hard to imagine dual-clutchers lasting an awful lot longer.

Dynamically, the M8 feels like a leaner, sharper M5, no doubt thanks to being that bit lower, increasing negative camber on the front axle and so on. More broadly that means it's superb fun, more accurate than a car of this weight should be, more entertaining than four-wheel drive would imply, more engaging than a car with this much tech is expected to be. As is the modern M car way, the front end is eager and seemingly impervious to understeer, albeit with confidence there from incredible corner speed and response more than the wheel itself. Mid-corner stability is great, assured and predictable, with traction then supreme on the way out. 4WD Sport also opens up a few options with a safety net still in place, the rear axle gladly dominating attitude and balance in a typically BMW fashion. Bring that together with strong (optional) ceramic brakes, fine body control and discreet, well-honed assist interventions, and you have the makings in the M8 of an unsuspecting track monster.


Well, kind of. There's only so long two tonnes can be flung around a circuit without complaint, and those enormous front Michelins do eventually begin to feel the strain and lose a bit of precision. The brake booster does an admirable job, keeping the pedal firm, though the smell after just half a dozen swift laps belies how much work it's really doing. For those that can afford the presumably prohibitive cost of consumables, the M8 Comp does make for quite the track tool, genuinely lending some credibility to the circuit testing claims. The Caterhams won't know what's happening...

How the coupe fares on the road will have to wait for another day, but it promises to be intriguing to say the least: on the one hand there's the potential of an improvement on the ability shown in the M8 Convertible, addressing that car's slight bagginess over really testing tarmac, but on the other the concern around a BMW even firmer than an M5 Competition on the public road - already a pretty stiff car. Could it be that the track adroitness is at the expense of usability and, more concerningly, to the detriment of its GT credentials?

Let's hope not, because there's a lot to like about this BMW. It straddles the line neatly between the more overtly sporty options at the money, and the more traditionally luxurious options: it's more exciting to drive than an S-Class Coupe, but feels like a more refined proposition than something like an Aston Vantage. The M8's is a small niche, sure, though it's easy to be convinced of its logic given any time with the Competition; the name makes little sense (same with having a convertible), and some will take issue with the interior, but there's no denying that BMW's decision to venture into new ground has been validated by the end product. On this experience the M8 delivers pretty emphatically on both the big BMW sense of occasion as well as M car performance and prowess, however uncomfortably those two worlds co-exist for purists. Let's hope a successful first impression can translate to a view just as favourable with more driving time - first cars are here before the end of 2019...


SPECIFICATION - BMW M8 COMPETITION
Engine:
4,395cc, V8, twin-turbocharged
Power (hp): 625@6,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 553@1,800-5,600rpm
0-62mph: 3.3 seconds (3.4)
Top speed: 190mph (with M Driver's Package)
Weight: 1,960kg (2,085kg, both to EU)
MPG: 26.6 (26.2)
CO2: 242g/km (246g/km)
Price: Β£123,435 (Β£130,435)

(Figures in brackets for Convertible)

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Author
Discussion

arkenphel

Original Poster:

407 posts

151 months

Tuesday 8th October
quotequote all
Cool! The standard 8 is a bit meh for me, but this sounds like it drives well. The weight isnt really an issue unless you're in track, and as a continent crossing tool that isnt too flashy like an Aston or Ferrari, this would be my pick.

GranCab

1,563 posts

92 months

Wednesday 9th October
quotequote all
Soon to be available as a pre-reg. @ circa £80K .....

Terminator X

7,930 posts

150 months

Wednesday 9th October
quotequote all
BMW undersell the engine, my M5C is 659hp and 640ft2 torque.

TX.

Nerdherder

1,467 posts

43 months

Wednesday 9th October
quotequote all
It still doesn't justify being so damn ugly.

Onehp

1,107 posts

229 months

Wednesday 9th October
quotequote all
I am the last to like heavy cars and usually bemoan the underquoting of actual weight if it is even mentioned that is. Therefore a little unfortunate to label the M8C as a two tonne car, when kerb it is under 1900kg reported and if the latest trends keeps, will actually stay there even with a few options. 1900kg is still a lot, but in these times is quite a lot better than some rivals' actual weight. E.g. mentioned Bentley CGT is 2,2-2,3 tonnes kerb... S63 Coupe is a true 2 tonne car closer to 2,1 with some with options.


Edited by Onehp on Wednesday 9th October 06:11

Sandpit Steve

288 posts

20 months

Wednesday 9th October
quotequote all
That’s damn near McLaren 540C money though, and the British car will probably depreciate less too!

(I suspect that the forthcoming 992 Turbo will be its real competition).

T1berious

1,173 posts

101 months

Wednesday 9th October
quotequote all
Sandpit Steve said:
That’s damn near McLaren 540C money though, and the British car will probably depreciate less too!

(I suspect that the forthcoming 992 Turbo will be its real competition).
This.

As a paid up BMW fan boy, I'm not entirely sure who would go 130 large on one when the incoming 992 Turbo will tear this to shreds. 992 is looking pretty luxurious these days (ok, rear seats are still occasional use).

Just not seeing who will be going for it over the other established marques at this price point.


Deeman

1,522 posts

128 months

Wednesday 9th October
quotequote all
Maybe it’s just me, but the way it looks kills any appeal straight away. It’s not a looker is it! Reckon that will help depreciation go meteoric. Take 60k and chuck it on an open fire - that would probably lose you less

spikyone

359 posts

46 months

Wednesday 9th October
quotequote all
Article said:
Can you really call a car a Competition, talk of its "precise interaction between powertrain, chassis technology and aerodynamics", suggest there's been influence from an M8 GTE race car, then make a 2,085kg cabriolet version?
This annoyed the hell out of me with the M5C - but I don't remember PH criticising that for abusing the Competition label, even though it's 1945kg and has 4 doors. As I said at the time, I'd be a little embarrassed to tell people I had an M5 Competition whilst driving around in something the size of a yacht. They might as well have called it the M5 Smallpenis.

I don't doubt that the M8 is very good, up to a point. But that weight is huge. Clever chassis engineering can only go so far, and can never really hide that.

The M8C would look far better with nicer wheels too. "Competition" seems to be the German word for "Chavvy wheels", they're bloody ugly and haven't suited anything they've been used on yet.

I'm sure it appeals to someone, but like others I can think of a lot of other cars I'd buy ahead of this if it were my money.

GTEYE

1,411 posts

156 months

Wednesday 9th October
quotequote all
What does this offer over an M4 Competition in the real world? A second less to 60? It’s largely immaterial.

It seems like a depreciation disaster in the making. The interior seems to be more or less the same as the latest 3 Series too...

Edited by GTEYE on Wednesday 9th October 07:07

David87

5,304 posts

158 months

Wednesday 9th October
quotequote all
That's going to depreciate like a bd. You'd have to be very rich.

belleair302

6,134 posts

153 months

Wednesday 9th October
quotequote all
Very few will ever be see on track and I have no ida why journalists or manufacturers do test track trials when the target age for a drive will be mid 50's and more a GT cruiser than an out and out sports car. Great engineering, but styling wise is a cross between a Mustang, a Lexus LC 500 and an AMG SL Merc. Miami car not Bedford Autodrome Track evening car.

chelme

641 posts

116 months

Wednesday 9th October
quotequote all
Looks ugly. Its heavy too.

Bridging luxury with sporting is, when it comes to dynamics, always a compromise. Period.

So, the car has to offer something else. Ferrari offers a stupendous sounding engine. Aston offers a swelte bodywork to seduce a potential buyer and Bentley offer luxurious interiors.

This BMW is ugly, and the engine whilst effective, is hardly likely to sound any good (hence the fake sound inside)

The interior appears a derivative of the M40!.

There is nothing special here.

Then ofcourse, there is the performance. Anyone myopic and seeing only the appeal of a performance spec sheet, may be drawn to it. Though I suspect a Porker will be equally enticing. And, the Porker will most probably outperform it.

If I were in the market, feeling like I HAD to have a big, heavy BMW M, the M5 would make more sense. It actually looks better for a start, and it is practical too.


Mr Whippy

21,828 posts

187 months

Wednesday 9th October
quotequote all
Lol, two rpm gauges?

‘Competition’ ... to look st? They’re certainly winning.

wab172uk

1,392 posts

173 months

Wednesday 9th October
quotequote all
chelme said:
Looks ugly. Its heavy too.

Bridging luxury with sporting is, when it comes to dynamics, always a compromise. Period.

So, the car has to offer something else. Ferrari offers a stupendous sounding engine. Aston offers a swelte bodywork to seduce a potential buyer and Bentley offer luxurious interiors.

This BMW is ugly, and the engine whilst effective, is hardly hardly likely to sound any good (hence the fake sound inside)

The interior appears a derivative of the M40!.

There is nothing special here.

Then ofcourse, there is the performance. Anyone myopic and seeing only the appeal of a performance spec sheet, may be drawn to it. Though I suspect a Porker will be equally enticing. And, the Porker will most probably outperform it.

If I were in the market, feeling like I HAD to have a big, heavy BMW M, the M5 would make more sense. It actually looks better for a start, and it is practical too.
Summed up pretty well there. Plus why do modern BMW's look like they've been rear ended? Just ugly.

daveco

3,702 posts

153 months

Wednesday 9th October
quotequote all
T1berious said:
Sandpit Steve said:
That’s damn near McLaren 540C money though, and the British car will probably depreciate less too!

(I suspect that the forthcoming 992 Turbo will be its real competition).
This.

As a paid up BMW fan boy, I'm not entirely sure who would go 130 large on one when the incoming 992 Turbo will tear this to shreds. 992 is looking pretty luxurious these days (ok, rear seats are still occasional use).

Just not seeing who will be going for it over the other established marques at this price point.
+1 Can't see many choosing this over a McLaren though it probably has a more characterful engine than the Porsche, so they might steal a few sales on that point.

As far as depreciation goes on the BMW, maybe wait a year and pick a slightly used one up for half price hehe

thiscocks

2,070 posts

141 months

Wednesday 9th October
quotequote all
Holy st that is horrible to look at

Krikkit

16,282 posts

127 months

Wednesday 9th October
quotequote all
Mr Whippy said:
Lol, two rpm gauges?

‘Competition’ ... to look st? They’re certainly winning.
Just what I was about to say! Awful.

I know new vs used is a fallacy, but considering you could have a DB11 with a thousand miles on it for this price... Would you really walk into a BMW showroom? Or bypass the Mercedes showroom and not bother with a CL/S-class?

Edited by Krikkit on Wednesday 9th October 09:09

HighwayStar

2,554 posts

90 months

Wednesday 9th October
quotequote all
daveco said:
T1berious said:
Sandpit Steve said:
That’s damn near McLaren 540C money though, and the British car will probably depreciate less too!

(I suspect that the forthcoming 992 Turbo will be its real competition).
This.

As a paid up BMW fan boy, I'm not entirely sure who would go 130 large on one when the incoming 992 Turbo will tear this to shreds. 992 is looking pretty luxurious these days (ok, rear seats are still occasional use).

Just not seeing who will be going for it over the other established marques at this price point.
+1 Can't see many choosing this over a McLaren though it probably has a more characterful engine than the Porsche, so they might steal a few sales on that point.

As far as depreciation goes on the BMW, maybe wait a year and pick a slightly used one up for half price hehe
Seriously??? I really don't see someone in the market for a McLaren looking at an M8C/AMG GT4 type big 4dr 4/5 seat GT.


Exige77

3,835 posts

137 months

Wednesday 9th October
quotequote all
Wheels look like aftermarket tat.