When I heard that BMW were launching a new M8 I almost squealed with pleasure. Sitting at the wheel of one felt like being in heaven. Both the Coupé and Convertible models boast a high revving 4.4-litre V8 engine with twin turbo and eight-speed M Steptronic transmission. This is the most powerful ever BMW M engine, delivering 625hp and 750Nm peak torque.
To put this in plain English, the car goes from 0-62mph in 3.2 seconds, which is all you really want to know, 3.3 if you are driving the topless car. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it…) the speed of the M8 Competition is limited to 155mph, rising to 189mph with the optional M Driver’s Package.
The car’s performance is aided by its indirect charge air-cooling system. The engine is mounted in a way that provides a more rigid connection with the vehicle structure. This results in even more direct engine response and immediate transmission of power to the drivetrain. The stiffer engine mounting also has a positive effect on the steering and cornering precision, and on the transmission of engine noise into the cabin.
The default 4WD provides maximum traction and handling control but if you want to have more of a raw driving experience all you need to do is change to Sport mode. The different driving modes provide different experiences of handling, performance and “acoustics”. A cool little trick is that, whichever mode you choose, you can dial down the engine’s noise impact using the M Sound Control button on the centre console and by selecting Sport Plus the engine’s response and sound becomes very close to motor racing.
The car is so clever that it even knows the right amount of steering torque for every situation!
The chassis has been designed and tuned with the specific demands of track use in mind (minimised weight, low centre of gravity, wide tracks…) while also delivering every-day driving and long-distance comfort. The M8 competition is made for the pure pleasure of driving. The cabin is beautifully designed and feels both luxurious and snug. Full Merino leather trim is standard, and both cars come exclusively with bicolour leather/Alcantara trim. The seats have perforated 3D quilting and are particularly comfortable around the shoulders and head area. There are design details all around: red accents in the leather steering wheel’s M buttons, a leather surfaced transmission selector lever with an embedded M logo and stitching in M colours.
Obviously the car is loaded with tech. A new control system makes it possible to tailor the car’s set- up to personal preferences and whatever driving conditions you face. The M Mode button on the centre console can be used to alter the driver assistance systems and the information shown in the instrument cluster and Head-Up Display. The overall vehicle configuration is available at the touch of the two M buttons on the steering wheel: from your preferred engine sound to the driving stability control, Servotronic steering, remote software update…the whole lot. The car is so clever that it even knows the right amount of steering torque for every situation!
As well as Head-Up Display with M- specific readouts, the new M8 Competition models come with the voice activated BMW Live Cockpit Professional and all kind of driving, navigation, anti-collision and parking assisting tools; so much so, that my nine year old niece could park the car without a hitch. What my niece could probably not do is drive the car in Track mode. While in Road or Sport mode most of the driving assistance features are on, when you select Track, most of them deactivate. You are on your own baby. Time to see if you can really drive.
Now, all this is very good and dandy but what will probably make you fall in love at first sight with this car is its design. Oh my! This is a highly sculpted vehicle, fiercely elegant and very, very sexy.
There are design subtleties that help make the M8 Competition the beautiful beast it is: The feline front apron, adaptive LED highlights, optional Laserlight, the BMW famous black kidney grill which now meets in the middle, the 20” forged alloy wheels, the gold callipers… Its dynamic appearance is accentuated by its low- slung body, stretched outline, slim window graphic and roofline flowing into the rear, visually wrapped by a super aerodynamic spoiler. Basically, you can’t look at the Coupé and not think of racing cars.
I am a convertible girl, so the topless model was the one my eyes went for, although also as a woman, I was concerned about ending up looking like Bridget Jones after a journey with the roof down in a car with this much power. You’ll be pleased to read that there is nothing to fear. The M8 Competition Convertible comes with a wind deflector behind the front seats that virtually eliminates all of the air turbulence for front seat occupants. Seriously. You get to your destination without a hair out of place. Now, if you are sitting at the back, good luck, but you know what they say: two is company, three is a crowd.
From £123,435 OTR.