Driven: 2019 BMW 8 Series
  • Car Review

Driven: 2019 BMW 8 Series

By Chris Teague | August 23, 2019

Autolist rating: 4/5
But would we buy it? Absolutely!
Price range: $88,895 - $122,395, including destination, but before options, and taxes

Key takeaways

  • The BMW 8 Series is offered in both a coupe and a convertible with available high-performance versions of both.
  • Though it’s a big car, the 8 Series handles confidently, especially the M850i models with all-wheel steering and standard all-wheel drive.
  • The 8 series is expensive, even in base form, with a starting price of around $88,000 for the 840i Coupe.
  • The 8 Series cars are a pleasure to drive, remain comfortable, and meet the extremely high-performance bar set for vehicles in the luxury sports car segment.

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What is it?

The BMW 8 Series is a range of grand touring cars that includes a coupe and a convertible, as well as a performance-oriented M8 Coupe and M8 Convertible. For this review, we’ll focus on the standard range of 8 Series cars, which includes the 840i and M850i xDrive models. The cars were originally produced in the 1990s and even starred in a James Bond film; eventually, they were discontinued due to poor sales.

The line was reintroduced in 2018 and expanded later to include the BMW M8 variants.

There are two trim levels for 2019. The “base” 840i Coupe and Convertible comes with a 3.0-liter, twin-turbo V6 with 335 horsepower.

The M850i xDrive is powered by a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 that produces 523 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque.

An eight-speed automatic gearbox is standard for both engines and all-wheel drive is standard for M850i models.

The cars also come standard with 18-inch wheels, automatic high beams, Merino leather upholstery, a navigation system, satellite radio, Apple CarPlay, remote start, wireless device charging, and a 464-watt Harman Kardon sound system.

M850i models come with adaptive laser headlights, a power trunk lid, soft-close doors, a sport exhaust, parking sensors, and selectable drive modes.

The 8 Series is aimed at new car buyers shopping for a luxury touring vehicle or a performance car in the premium segment. The cars are expensive, with a starting price of nearly $90,000 for the 8 Series Coupe, but that’s not completely out of line with what we’d expect from vehicles in this segment.

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At the top end, the M850i models can feel like an outright bargain when considered against competitors like the Mercedes-AMG S63, which reaches upwards of $170,000.

In general, the 8 Series is in a tough spot because of its mild-mannered to crazy personality. Because of this and its wide price range, this BMW can be shopped against a variety of models, including competitors from Aston Martin and Mercedes-Benz.

What’s good

TLDR: Gorgeous cars that have noteworthy performance and a high level of flexibility.

Beautiful: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but the 8 Series cars are both striking and unique in their designs. As large cars, they have a great presence, both in motion and when parked. A long hood and sharply sloped windshield give the cars a stance that is reminiscent of the sweeping and curvy cars of many decades ago. Inside, materials and design are fitting of a $100,000+ vehicle, and there is a sense of minimalism throughout the cabin. Buyers can even opt for a crystal gear shift lever and various control buttons – unnecessary but gorgeous, nonetheless.

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Flexible: Few vehicles deliver as a “total package,” but the 8 Series gets top marks in all the most important categories. It’s comfortable and smooth as a long-haul touring car, competent as a canyon-carving weekend car, and thrilling on the track – especially the M850i cars. This high level of flexibility comes thanks to the cars’ selectable driving modes, which change the engine, steering, suspension, and other settings to match the type of driving being done. It helps the 8 Series feel like buying several cars in one and makes the BMW a true standout.

Performance: Plenty of vehicles deliver the 8 Series’ level of performance, but few can do it so effortlessly. The M850i’s 4.4-liter V8 delivers a twin-turbo punch to the tune of 523 horsepower, and the eight-speed transmission so competently finds its gears that there’s little need to engage the paddle shifters. The car’s breathtaking acceleration is aided by xDrive all-wheel drive, that effectively gets power to the ground and gets the car moving quickly.

Even the 3.0-liter that comes in the 840i models can deliver 0-60 mph times that hover around five seconds, which is more than quick enough for most drivers. It’s also the perfect level of “grunt” for road trips and long-haul cruising.

What’s bad

TLDR: Artificial exhaust sounds, little to no back seat space and an intimidating parking experience.

Artificial Exhaust Sound: The 8 Series’ exhaust note is glorious on its own, especially in Sport and Sport + modes, but BMW still felt the need to artificially supplement the sound through speakers inside the car. It’s especially noticeable when starting in Comfort mode, where there’s a moment of loud exhaust sound before the tone evens out. While it doesn’t detract from the car’s performance or external soundtrack at all, it’s completely unnecessary.

Tiny Back Seat: It’s true that almost no one is buying one of these cars intending to use it as a family transporter, but it would be nice to have the option of carrying more than two people at times. The 8 Series’ rear seat is nearly unusable by adults and even made trouble for my kids, who at ages six and two had trouble squeezing their feet behind the front seats when they were adjusted to a comfortable driving position. For a two-door car this large, a serviceable back seat should be table stakes.

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Limited Outward Visibility: Beauty giveth and beauty taketh away. The same sweeping window line and long hood that give this car its considerable presence also make it hard to judge distance and position when parking. This makes park assist a near must-have option. Maneuvering in tight spaces can feel intimidating, but there are cameras and a great view on the infotainment screen to help.

5 stars of execution

Safety Features? YES

  • Some advanced safety features come standard for the 840i: forward-collision warnings, automatic city collision mitigation, and daytime pedestrian detection.
  • A $500 Driving Assistance Package is available that comes with active blind spot detection, park distance control, and lane departure warnings. A $1,700 Driving Assistance Professional Package is also available that adds partially-automated driving support and traffic jam assist, which can help operate the car on limited-access highways.
  • The BMW 8 Series has not yet been rated by the IIHS or NHTSA.

Value? NO

  • At nearly $90,000, the 840i just doesn’t bring the level of standard features and performance that are expected from cars at that price point.
  • Limited driver assistance and advanced safety features are standard, Apple CarPlay is a subscription service, and options are pricey.

Efficiency? YES

  • Fuel economy ratings for cars like the 8 Series have to be taken in context. Expecting Toyota Prius-like efficiency isn’t realistic, and the 8 Series actually performs well in the realm of large luxury cars and high-performance vehicles.
  • The EPA has only provided fuel economy estimates for the M850i xDrive cars. The Coupe is estimated at 18/25/20 mpg city/highway/combined; the convertible is estimated at 17/26/20 mpg city/highway/combined. In our week with the M850i xDrive Convertible, we saw an average of 22 mpg combined in mixed driving conditions. This is a notable improvement over the EPA estimates, especially considering that acceleration and performance testing was performed.

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Driving experience? YES

  • To say that the 8 Series is a driver’s car would be an understatement. The cars are comfortable, quick, and versatile.
  • M850i models have all-wheel steering and all-wheel drive, which makes the big cars feel much smaller than they are.

Execution? YES

  • Despite needing more “stuff” at the base level, each of the 8 Series trims feel like a cohesive package, with all systems, options, and tech working together to provide a great experience.
  • The 840i’s six-cylinder engine doesn’t provide breathtaking performance, but it does work well for a swift grand touring car.
  • The M850i’s ability to shift from comfy to crazy with the push of a button is impressive, but the car remains comfortable and luxurious even when the driving gets aggressive. Thoughtful features like all-wheel steering and AWD keep the car pointed where the driver intends.
  • The convertibles’ soft top blocks more noise than many hardtops and they offer a premium experience for people wanting to drive the cars year-round.

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Total Rating: 4 stars

What’s it gonna cost me?

The base 840i has an MSRP that starts at $88,895 including destination but before tax, and comes with a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 engine, eight-speed automatic transmission, rear-wheel drive, a sport exhaust, 18-inch wheels, automatic high beam headlights, Merino leather upholstery, Apple CarPlay (for one year), a WiFi hotspot, a Harman Kardon sound system, navigation, a 10.25 infotainment touchscreen with iDrive, a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, adaptive cruise control, remote start, front collision warnings, city collision mitigation, and daytime pedestrian detection.

Upgrading to all-wheel drive will cost $2,900. The convertible starts at $98,395 with destination but before taxes.

The M850i xDrive Coupe has a starting price of $112,895 including destination but before taxes, and comes with a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8, all-wheel drive, active grille shutters, adaptive M suspension and dampers, rear-wheel steering, M Sport brakes, 20-inch wheels, adaptive laser/LED headlights, an M rear spoiler, increased top speed limiter, and an aerodynamic kit.

The M850i xDrive Convertible has a starting price of $122,395, including destination but before tax.

If we were going to spring for the 8 Series, a move to the M850i would make the most sense. The extra power and added performance from the V8 engine and upgraded M parts make the cars feel much more valuable and memorable, despite the substantial price premium over the 840i cars.

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Also consider

The 2019 BMW 8 Series sits in a tricky spot because of its spread of touring car comfort and screaming performance abilities. Depending on the buyer, there could be a cross-shop between anything from an Aston Martin Vantage to a Nissan GT-R. This not only means the BMW could get lost in the shuffle, but it also makes for a tough time judging the competition. A handful of Porsche models could be thrown into the mix for good measure.

The most direct non-German competitor is the surprisingly great Lexus LC 500. At just over $90,000 before any options, the Lexus has a solid (and great-sounding) 5.0-liter V8, a world-class interior, and eye-catching looks.

Any shopping the M850i models should also check out the Mercedes-AMG GT, which starts at around $117,000 and has a screaming turbocharged 4.0-liter V8. The GT doesn’t have a back seat, which is just as well because the 8 Series back seat is an afterthought.

The Mercedes-Benz S-Class is another obvious competitor, with both a coupe and a convertible available. Pricing ranges all the way up to a whopping $170,445 for the AMG S63 model with a hardcore 603 horsepower engine.

More Photos

See more 2019 BMW 8 Photos.