Twenty years ago the original 8 Series luxury sports coupe was put out to pasture, but now there’s an all-new animal bearing its name inside the BMW stable.
The 2019 BMW M850i xDrive coupe makes a grand entry with 523 horsepower, 553 pound-feet of torque, zero-to-60 in 3.6 seconds, a $112,895 price tag, and all the trappings of a supercar.
That rousing power and torque comes from a new twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8 engine, whose driving partner, an eight-speed automatic transmission, sends the energy to all four wheels of a BMW xDrive system tuned specifically for the M850i.
That semi-stratospheric pricing reflects BMW’s renowned engineering and production quality, an abundance of luxury, safety and technology features, and a bunch of cachet.
The M850i would attract attention no matter what, but my tester’s Sunset Orange Metallic paint turned so many heads it could have come under the scrutiny of Washington’s distracted driving law. “Sunset Orange Metallic” sounds like it could be awful, but it’s luscious.
As with many performance coupes, getting into and out of the M850i would be an extreme sport for someone with back, knee, elbow or neck problems. Once inside, the very tall or very short might have some challenges. The sloping roof and short windows contribute greatly to the coupe’s racy good looks, but they do take a toll on headroom and visibility.
As for interior design, the passenger cabin is brilliant. In the new 8 Series, engineers strayed somewhat from BMW’s trademark minimalism but didn’t get too carried away. They perfected the art of creating a sumptuous atmosphere that doesn’t border on garishness.
Buyers have a choice between two excellent audio systems. A 16-speaker Harman Kardon with digital amplifier is standard. An optional Bowers and Wilkins Diamond surround sound system has 16 speakers and a fully active 16-channel amplifier with 1,375-watt output.
The M850i uses the latest version of the BMW iDrive operating system with a high-resolution digital 12-inch instrument cluster display behind the steering wheel and a 10-inch center display. It’s packed with sophisticated and impressive abilities but is not difficult to master. The system includes BMW’s gesture control feature that lets users issue commands using hand gestures instead of touching any screens, buttons or dials. To adjust volume, for example, you make clockwise or counterclockwise circles in the air with your index finger. I used it several times but felt like Bernie Sanders. There are still traditional steering wheel controls, and BMW designers were smart and considerate enough to include a good old volume adjustment dial.
A $650 option on the tester added glass controls including a clear crystal-like gear shifter with an illuminated number 8 ethereally visible through the glass surface. A carbon fiber roof that reduces weight and lowers the center of gravity was the priciest of four options at $3,000. Otherwise, an impressive amount of high-end features were all included as standard equipment.
The front of the low-slung M850i has the ground clearance of a snowplow blade, so extreme care must be taken when encountering dips. During one situation, exiting a parking lot at the speed of a banana slug, I heard the dreaded scraping sound. Checking for destruction after getting home, I saw a tough rubber guard below the front fascia. No harm had been done. I stayed on the ground for a while, thanking God.
2019 BMW M850i xDRIVE COUPE
Base price, including destination charge: $112,895
Price as driven: $119,295
Mary Lowry is an independent automotive writer who lives in Snohomish County. She is a member of the Motor Press Guild, and a member and past president of the Northwest Automotive Press Association. Vehicles are provided by the manufacturers as a one-week loan for review purposes only. In no way do the manufacturers control the content of the reviews.