Engine: 4.4L V8 Turbo
Output: 617 hp, 553 lb-ft
Transmission: 8AT, AWD
US fuel economy (MPG): 15/21/17
CAN fuel economy (L/100KM): 16.0/11.0/13.8
Starting Price (USD): $130,995 (inc. dest.)
As-Tested Price (USD): $159,900 (est, inc. dest.)
Starting Price (CAD): $150,480 (inc. dest.)
As-Tested Price (CAD): $175,000 (inc. dest.)
It was cool, but you also got the feeling that any mention of the word “Mustang” would be met by rage and the putting of your name on a blacklist by the BMW reps. Not that such a thing exists…
SEE ALSO: BMW M850i xDrive Cabriolet Review
So it came as a big surprise that I, a wrinkly-brained purist, who knows a thing or two about weight, its distribution, and its transfer, would think that the four-door version of a coupe would actually solve a lot of the problems that dog the M8. It doesn’t really solve all of its problems, though.
Softening a Hard Edge
You see, the fine folks over at Road & Track are essentially right about the M8 Competition. It’s kind of too much of too many things to be good at one thing. Or as they put it: “So if the 2020 BMW M8 Competition is neither a sharp-toothed track rat nor a velveteen tourer, who’s shelling out this much money for one?” Good question. And as they point out, the answer is not many people. Shame, really. It’s lovely.
Adding a pair of doors to the M8 Competition, it turns out, does a lot of good. Let’s be honest, the back seats in any two-door are a bit of a joke, but in a coupe they’re never a very funny joke. In the Gran Coupe, those same seats are transformed into perfectly comfortable accommodations for even a quite lengthy trip.
I’m going to tread carefully here because BMW’s representatives were (understandably) a little uneasy about my choice of destination during my week with the M8 Competition Gran Coupe. So let’s just you and me keep this to ourselves: I went camping in the car. It garnered attention in the parking lot as people wondered who the idiot in the $150,000 car was. (For anyone who cares, I was careful to the point of being a buzzkill.)
But the important thing isn’t the camping. The important thing is that I took the M8 Gran Coupe 310 miles and had everything I could possibly think to need for a weekend in there with me, which included two dear friends (a pair of people who are in my bubble) and I did it comfortably thanks to Gran Coupe part of the car’s name.
So, full of stuff, nearly full of people, whisking up a highway lined by trees ablaze in hues of gold and umber, in a BMW the color of the deep dark woods, this M8 thing starts to make sense. Do you need 617 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque to go camping? Do you need champagne to live? No, but it makes living better. And it was well suited to the task. My rear-seat passenger appreciated the heated (and ventilated!) seats and I appreciated that I could Bluetooth someone else’s phone to the infotainment and keep mine Bluetoothed to the communications, allowing me to take phone calls while letting someone with better taste than me DJ. The fine leather and the amply adjustable seats kept us all in comfort, while the Traffic Assistant Professional kept the boring parts of the highway drive easy.
What’s a Race Track?
Some argue that the M8 Competition isn’t really a sports car because it can’t really last on a track because it’s too heavy for soft tires to last more than a couple of laps and oh my god! I don’t really care when I have four doors. I’m freed of this pedantic need to void my insurance and melt my tires and I can’t hear what you’re saying about lap times because I’m so very deep in the woods having a lovely time with friends and my phone doesn’t work because I haven’t bothered hooking it up to the M8’s WiFi hotspot.
The M8 Competition may not be ideal for track days and the M8 Competition Gran Coupe—which adds about 300 lbs and two doors—is likely worse. But 617 hp will give you a kick in the pants whenever you want it, and 553 lb-ft of torque, much like Shakira’s hips, don’t lie. The xDrive only sends power to the front wheels when grip is low so that it can help claw you out of oversteer moments. That means that under normal circumstances, the car delivers all that power to the back of your seat, pushing you around corners pleasingly, giving you a lovely sensation of rotation, and the warm knowledge that power slides are always possible. The suspension may tend to the stiff side, but it’s by no means uncomfortable and sitting down low improves the sensation of speed immensely.
The M8 Competition Gran Coupe also gives you the warm knowledge that others are impressed by you. During my time with the M8 Gran Coupe, the tire pressure warning light went on, so I stopped at a gas station and went in to ask for change. I’d like to thank the attendant who upon seeing the car forgot to edit himself and let an f-bomb slip out asking me: “Yoooo what the F&$!, is that your M8?!” It’s a car that inspires expletives. While on my trip, four or five people also stopped, turned away from the glory of nature’s creation in its most vibrant symphony of iridescence, to ask “Is that your BMW? Nice color!” It is a nice color, thank you for noticing. The M8 Competition Gran Coupe is a distractingly interesting car.
A Question of Cash
The gas station attendant found the price distracting, too, though. After I told him that it didn’t actually belong to me, he was sort of brought back to reality. “But it’s expensive, though. You could almost buy a Lamborghini.”
Starting at $130,000 ($150,480 Canadian)—or at $143,000 for the Competition ($163,480), which gets you about 17 hp and some carbon fiber but no real weight savings as far as I can tell—the M8 Gran Coupe is a very expensive car. It starts at $16,000 more than the Audi RS7 and once you start building in options, $165,000 is easily achievable. The truth is, though, a Lamborghini Huracan starts at $212,500, so the two aren’t exactly comparable. The Lamborghini, in fact, is closer in price to the AMG GT 63 S 4-door Coupe, which starts at $162,200 (and whose price I easily pushed to $195,000 on Mercedes’ configurator). Admittedly, though, it makes 13 more hp and gets to 60 a whole tenth of a second faster than the BMW (3.1 seconds, to the M8 Competition’s 3.2).
Well, La, as the kids say, Dee, as I think you’ll agree, Da.
So, yes, the M8 Competition Gran Coupe is very expensive, but not unprecedentedly so. The price may not be a deal-breaker in the segment, but it does open BMW to wanton nitpicking. I take umbrage at having to manually extend my under-knee supports in the M8–something that happens electrically in, say, the X5 M. And although the interior is dripping with leather and carbon and aluminum, the design just doesn’t appeal to me particularly. It’s sensible and not all that different from any other BMW, even ones that cost $100,000 less than this one.
SEE ALSO: 2019 Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door Coupe Review
And at this price point, I’m left with a few questions. Why is the voice-assistant so bad? Why am I never 100% sure that the car is locked when I leave it? Why does the Competition package cost $13,000? Why don’t these seats massage me (they look big enough at a glance)? Why does the stop-start function insist on jolting me from stops and slamming me into them like I’m learning to drive a manual?
But then there are the positives. The armrests warm up when you heat your seats. There are fun M features that show you how many of your 617 horses are being used and when or how many gs are trying to wrench your head off your spine. The head-up display is excellent. When you’re using the keep-your-hands-on-the-wheel-but-let-the-car-steer highway driving thing, you get a little display in your gauge cluster that shows you the cars around you and can distinguish between cars and semi-trucks and something about that gives me more confidence in the system.
The car (mostly) knows what the speed limit is wherever you are and can be made to follow the limit automatically. The gesture controls, once mastered, actually can border on the useful—though people who gesticulate when they talk may have to tone it down lest they accidentally pause their music.
Verdict: 2020 BMW M8 Competition Gran Coupe
More generally, the M8 is an impressive looking car with four comfortable seats. An excellent grand tourer that delivers on the grand touring promise of whisking you up vast stretches of highway breezily while maintaining the ability to pass almost anyone who impedes your travel. It’s just as comfortable whether you’re wearing hiking shoes or Balenciagas. It has enough power to impress your friends and with four doors the need to pretend to be good on track is lessened so the disappointment of it being big and heavy—which, if we’re honest, the competition is just as guilty of—is explained by its richness in leather, pistons, and means of egress. It sounds great, the engine is a peach, and it goes like stink. Sure, the breaks are numb, so trail braking is a bit of a mess, but when’s the last time you trail braked while trying to impress your friends? Dump the throttle and push them into the backs of their many seats like a normal person.
Frustratingly, though, while I think the M8 Competition Gran Coupe makes more sense than the peti Coupe, I’m not sure it makes more sense than the err… competition. BMW may be trying to thread the eye of a needle with a camel here. You can have the slightly cheaper and no less impressively fast Audi RS7. Or you could bring another briefcase of unmarked bills to the Mercedes dealership and buy the AMG GT 63 ETC and have the one that will impress the Instagram crowd more. Where does that leave the M8?
I don’t really know, but what I do know is that the M8 Competition Gran Coupe is an appealing car and I doubt any owners will be disappointed with their choice—even if the M8 Gran Coupe meetup is a little lonely this year.
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