REVIEW | Fire-breathing 2020 BMW M8 scares and delights
Few things scream obnoxious louder than a matte blue BMW M8 Competition coupé. In the hours the vehicle was entrusted to me, the extent of the disdain seen by fellow road users was startling.
Parked at the local shopping centre, I overheard one observer saying to his mate that he would never ruin such a car with an aftermarket paint job. By the way, the shade's chalkboard effect is a factory option, dubbed Frozen Marina Bay Blue metallic.
Then there was that Johannesburg metro police department roadblock. Maybe you can tell where this is going. Other motorists had their licences scrutinised through the window and were sent on their way. Not so for me, when the officer marched me to the mobile scanning station to check on those outstanding fines. The disappointment was palpable when no such infractions were to be found.
Gingerly, myself and the unloved brute went back on our way. But any road traffic enforcer would have reason to stop such a machine. Every molecule of its existence seeks to defy the laws of physics and national speed limits. Take the standstill to 100km/h sprint, for example: 3.2 seconds is terrific, more so when you consider it weighs slightly less than a Melville apartment.
At the heart of it all is the familiar 4.4-litre, twin-turbocharged V8, well-proven in an assortment of other BMW M products, including the M5. This is paired with an eight-speed automatic. And like the M5, power is sent to all four corners, although a two-wheel drive mode is on offer, shoving 460kW and 750Nm to the rear axle. Use that one in a controlled environment, at your own risk.
While the sound from the eight-cylinder power source could be more truculent, there is not much left to be wanting in the department of overtaking acceleration. The relentless groundswell of power in the M8 borders on frightening, and exceeding the 120km/h threshold by a prison-worthy margin takes little more than the twitch of your big toe.
A short stint in the car around Zwartkops Raceway affirmed what we already knew, though. This is an M-car that is far happier covering vast, cross-country distances rapidly than attempting to hustle around the race track.
In the real world, it rides with more than acceptable levels of comfort even despite the massive rollers and low sidewall profiles (275/35 ZR20 front; 285/35 ZR20). The front and rear suspension is constructed largely of aluminium parts, with damper control aiding composure.
Despite its brash persona and brutal performance prowess, the M8 settles down admirably with its most docile driving mode engaged. What we have here is a (steroidal) grand tourer of the finest order.
The only conundrum facing prospective buyers is that, for around the same price (from R3,280,400) a person could get into offerings from marques with irresistible pedigree. This includes the Porsche 911 Turbo (from R3,339,000).