Words by: Adam Allen
What is it?
This, dear reader, is BMW’s Gran Coupe concept applied to its flagship 8-series model range. While we know that this is not a coupe- the addition of the rear doors leaves little doubt of that- it’s still a sexy, slinky thing. The BMW bunch in Munich have a knack of carving market segments into paper thin slices, so much so that the 8-series can be had in Coupe, Cabriolet and now, Gran Coupe flavors ensuring that there’s an 8 for all tastes. Our Gran Coupe tester certainly is the most practical itinerant, and to our eyes, it’s the best looking. OK, we could do without the gaping exhaust outlets where the two tiny pipes meekly reside, but other than that it’s a showstopper.
What’s it like inside?
As the pinnacle of BMW’s lineup, you would expect the M850i Gran Coupe to come well equipped, and it does. It would be easier to tell you what the GC doesn’t have rather than list the stuff it does. It even has equipment that most cars don’t even offer, like electrically actuated soft-close doors, climate control that preconditions the cabin temperature for you and BMW’s version of a virtual assistant. Dave for the body style it is not different at all whatsoever from when we flogged the coupe version last June, which is to say it still packs an interior that is beautifully trimmed. Every surface is covered in sumptuous leather, every stich across the expansive dashboard perfectly executed. Part of the Executive Package ($4,000) on our tester included “Glass Application ‘Crafted Clarity’ for Interior Elements”- check out the glittery gear lever and other accoutrements for what that looks like in person. We normally dismiss this kind of frippery as unnecessary, but it’s so exquisite we would have a hard time saying no (you also get ventilated seats and semi-autonomous driving for that dough, plus Traffic Jam Assistant.) We would also have reservations of leaving the incredible Bowers and Wilkins stereo off the menu ($4,900) because it sounds so darn good, and the way the genuine metallic speaker grilles are lit up at night is very cool. There’s a standard suite of ambient lighting that will turn your M850i Gran Coupe into a VIP booth at Miami’s hottest nightclub, but while it’s nice to look at we found it too distracting to keep on while driving at night. It’s important to note that your smartly lit chariot is only meant for four lucky occupants as the rear seat’s middle is taken up by a console- but at least the rear seat occupants will be comfortable and will not feel claustrophobic despite the dramatically sloping roofline.
What’s it like to drive?
Spoiler alert: it’s going to be hard to fault any car that brings a V8 all ate up with boost and a chassis set up with a distinct nod to athleticism. If you’re planning on exploring the outer limits of grip with a transition to lurid, smoky oversteer, you might want to reconsider. The Gran Coupe isn’t afraid to get frisky, but despite it’s all-wheel drive system sending most of the power rearward it isn’t that kind of car where you indulge in opposite lock slides- it’s much more at home devouring many kilometers in comfort at high speeds. This is a big car, and it feels it. Still, the 4.4 twin turbo V8 is spoiled with horsepower and torque which punts this sled towards the horizon with astonishing force. It laughs off the hefty 2,031 kilogram curb weight and sounds the business while doing so, even is some of that sound is piped into the cabin. BMW’s engines always exhibit a creaminess that you just don’t see anywhere else, and this one is no different. You can get your Gran Coupe in M8 trim, and you can be certain that it’ll be faster than the M850i you see here- but the gap between the two is awfully narrow, and precisely no one will ever say the ‘base’ 8-sereies is slow.
Why you should care:
For those of you with the means to put a car like the M850i Gran Coupe in your driveway, you are no doubt aware that this niche isn’t exactly bursting at the seams with choice for a high-dollar, high-zoot coupe something or other. You could have the Audi S7, but it isn’t nearly as beguiling to behold as the Bimmer and is too antiseptic to be fun. There is, of course, the Mercedes Benz CLS/AMG GT twosome that you might consider but they cost more than the M850i Gran Coupe. That leaves the Porsche Panamera, but you must step up the Turbo S model if you’re going to have a chance at seeing the BMW in your rear-view mirror. All these, including the mega buck Bentley GT, are good choices to satiate your need for a muscular yet elegant mode of transportation- but we think the BMW’s compelling mix of style, speed and value make it awfully hard to be left off your shopping list.
2020 BMW M850i xDrive Gran Coupe– Specifications
- Price as tested: $136,300
- Body Type: 4-door, 2+2 passenger sedan
- Powertrain Layout: Front engine/all-wheel drive
- Engine: 4.4-litre twin turbo V8, DOHC, 32 valves
- Horsepower: 523 @ 6,000 rpm
- Torque (lb-ft.): 553 @ 1,800 rpm
- Transmission: 8-speed automatic
- Curb weight: 2,031 kg (4,478 lbs)
- Observed Fuel Economy: 13.8/100km (17 mpg)