Driven - Apr 2019

Next generation grand tourer? Meet the BMW M850i

BMW M850i Driven Review

Most of the motoring launches we attend are often for the facelift of a vehicle or a new generation model, such as the 7th Generation 3 Series launch we attended a few weeks back. It’s not every day, however,  that a manufacturer resurrects a vehicle line that could only ever be described as iconic. Meet the new BMW 8 Series.

With 390 kW, 750 Nm and the letter “M” before the Series number, you may expect this to be another brutal, aggressive, exciting ruthless and unforgiving BMW M Performance car which we’ve come to love in vehicles such as the M3 and M5, you’d be wrong. However, like the rest of the BMW M Performance range, the M850i is not quite that…

The 8 Series range is aimed at providing the full essence of BMW. The power, performance and acceleration of an M vehicle but with the comfort, luxury and refinement of a 7 series, all while providing the sporty nature of 6 Series coupe and the host of tech found in brand new models such as the 3 Series and X5. Confused? No. Flagship? Yes.

My initial impressions when piloting the M850i for the first time, weren’t that of its performance, power or crackling V8 but rather the comfort and serenity I experienced in the cabin. Road noise was minimal, the interior was plush and the vehicle almost seemed to float across the surface of the tarmac – it really was that comfortable.

It became increasingly obvious that the M850i was built to devour up the road in front of it, it’s a vehicle in which you’d rather drive over long distances than short ones. A 3.9 second 0-100 km/h time makes the 8 Series rather quick, sorry, blistering quick, and it’s delivered through a rear-biased xDrive system in a linear, smooth fashion. Think the smoothness of Johnny Walker Blue over the bite of VAT 69. You’ll hit figures that will leave you phoning home from a prison cell in no time, while feeling like you’re still cruising under the law.

The M850i is a grand tourer” but that doesn’t mean the “M” stands for nothing. Two twin-scroll turbochargers are nestled within the V of the 4.4-litre V8 motor, while a new cooling system and changes to the crankcase make the vehicle lighter and more responsive.

Want noise? Just ask for it. A simple push of the sport button will bring the M850i to life in ways you wouldn’t expect. A symphony of noises erupt from the rear under acceleration, when downshifting and on the overrun which just weren’t present in comfort mode. Best of both worlds? Just maybe.

One mustn’t forget though that as sporty as the M850i is, it’s not exactly light on its feet weighing in at just under 2 tonnes. Dynamically, the M850i showed us on our driving routes just what was possible. It hugged some of Cape Town’s finest roads and even performed on the tightest of passes in a way that you wouldn’t expect from a vehicle with this mass.

As plush and as sporty as the cockpit styled cabin is, we would have liked to see a bigger differentiation between this and BMW’s other model ranges. Yes, the touches of glass on the gear selector, iDrive wheel and sound nobs are nice but you can have those in an X5 – could BMW have given the 8 Series a little more exclusivity? Probably. From the outside, the M850i makes a statement. Its gorgeous, aggressive and bold. From the rear, it may just be one of the best looking BMW’s I’ve ever laid my eyes on, which builds up excitement for what our eyes will experience when the full-blown M8 comes along.

I really do understand why BMW reinvented the 8 series. They’ve merged the lines between comfort and performance, creating a vehicle which rivals lets say, a Mercedes-Benz S63 Coupe, which for me has a very similar appeal.


BMW M850i Pricing in South Africa

BMW M850i xDrive Coupe:  R1,872.900

BMW M850i xDrive Coupe Individual:  R1,956.800

BMW M850i xDrive Convertible:  R1,994.300