BMW unleashes hot new M8 versions

Flagship high-performance Coupe and Convertible will have up to 460kW

06 June 2019 - 15:40 By Michael Taylor
The M8 duo can be had standard or Competition guise, in Coupe and Convertible.
The M8 duo can be had standard or Competition guise, in Coupe and Convertible.
Image: Supplied

The clamour for an M version of the surprisingly fleet BMW M850i xDrive can finally calm down, because here it is. BMW will launch Coupe and Convertible versions of the faster, more agile and lighter M8 and M8 Competition on June 26 in Munich.

The double-bubble carbon-fibre roof leads the way on the design front, with a black chrome grille, four exhaust tips, and bigger air intakes adding to the design differences. The interior features a new gearshift lever, the thick-rimmed leather steering wheel with red M buttons on the horizontal spokes, a specific M instrument cluster, sports seats and even an illuminated M8 badge beneath the headrest.

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Both versions of the car use LED headlights, though that can be upgraded to the laser headlight, which can reach out to 600m of visible range. They’re half a second faster to 100km/h than the M850i, ripping through the 100km/h mark in just 3.2 seconds. Even the M8 Competition Convertible gets the job done in 3.3 seconds. All four M8 models are limited to 250km/h but can reach 305km/h with the optional driver’s package on offer.

The standard M8 packs 441kW and the M8 Competition ekes out 460kW. Both of the M8 V8s with cross-bank exhaust manifolds reach their power peak at 6,000rpm, where the M850i spreads it across from 5,500 to 6,000rpm. There is now higher fuel pressure for the direct-injection system, rising to up to 350 bar at peak times to help atomise the injection spray and deliver a cleaner burn.

The really odd part is the torque figure. Both cars only match the M850i’s 750Nm, suggesting the eight-speed automatic transmission is approaching its maximum levels of torque delivery. The transmission has three levels of tune, ranging from softer to fully aggressive in the track-style setup.

They also are five kilogrammes lighter than the M850i’s 1,890kg dry weight, coming in at 1,960kg. Another standout specification is that, like the M850i, the M8s wear 20-inch wheels and tyres, though they’re much wider. M8 variants wear 275/35 R20 front tyres and 285/35 R20 rears. The M850i uses 245/40 and 275/30 on its 20-inch rims.

BMW interior fuses elegance and sporting touches.
BMW interior fuses elegance and sporting touches.
Image: Supplied

Just as with M5, the Active M Differential equipped all-wheel drive system can be run as a rear-drive, a full-time all-wheel drive, or a rear-biased part-time all-wheel drive via the car’s user-chooser drivelogic switchgear. It is intended to provide security nearly all the time and rear-biased fun whenever the driver asks for it.

The hardware is supplemented by its fair share of software, with electromagnetic adaptive suspension all around and Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus settings available to the driver.

It’s all stopped by drilled and ventilated 395mm front discs and 380mm rears, with six-piston fixed calipers in front and a single-piston floating caliper at the rear. Carbon ceramic discs are an option, with the rear disc remaining the same size, but the front jumping up to 400mm in diameter.

At 4,867mm long, the M8 is 16mm longer than M850i and its 1907mm width tacks on another 5mm, though all the models ride on the same 2,827mm wheelbase. It’s 1,362mm tall.

The multi-layer M8 Convertible soft-top opens and closes in 15 seconds, and can be operated at up to 50km/h.

The extra bracing and roof mechanism add 125kg to the mass of the M8 Coupe, tipping the dry-weight scales at 2,010kg, and up to 2,085kg for the EC version. It still is a quick car with a 0-100km/h time of 3.4 seconds and 3.3 seconds for the Competition version.

All four versions run the top-level Live Cockpit Professional system with its 7.0 operating system and a fully digital, high-resolution instrument cluster screen. The screen in front of the driver will be 31cm, while there’s also a 25cm touchscreen that doubles as the infotainment unit in the centre of the dash.

There will also be M-specific stuff like track timers, full driving data and grip readouts, but it can be operated by a choice of voice commands, the iDrive controller, gesture control or touch.

BMW SA says the M8 and M8 Competition are expected to go on sale here during the last quarter of 2019 in both Coupe and Convertible derivatives.