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31 Oct 2018

What We Dislike
Lacking in dynamic excitement and pizzazz

The BMW 8 Series Coupe is a very capable grand tourer sheathed in a stylish, elegant and eye-catching garb.

Making a two-door, four-seater coupe is a tricky thing. Some buyers may want it simply for the style, luxury and comfort, hence cars like the S-Class Coupe and the Continental GT. Other drivers may want dynamic performance, breeding models like the Aston Martin DB11.

But what if you want something that manages to check all of the boxes? Well, the brand new BMW 8 Series hopes to answer that question.

The 8 Series' bold and sleek design is sure to turn heads

8 is greater than 7

As its numerical designation may suggest, the brand new 8 Series sits atop the brand's core model lineup, promising to be the very best that the brand has to offer - style, technology, luxury and dynamism all included.

In the style department, there's no denying that the 8 Series Coupe looks fantastic. With flowing lines, a sweeping roofline, and a wide, low stance, it's a car that turns heads everywhere you go. Our drive through the streets of Portugal had onlookers endlessly looking on in wonder.

The cabin is a minimalistic and sleek affair

Inside, BMW has thrown all of its technical know-how at the car. You get the new Operating System 7.0, which includes a 10.25-inch central display, a 12.3-inch fully digital dashboard and a significantly improved Gesture Control function, among a wealth of other technological updates.

And while yes, the cabin is certainly high-tech, you don't feel overwhelmed by the technology. We put this largely down to the immediate familiarity and ergonomic practicality of the cabin. Everything is where you expect it to be, and operation is simple and intuitive.

The optional application of glass on the gear knob, volume dial and iDrive controller, as well as the generous use of soft leather throughout, help to elevate a cabin that would otherwise be pretty standard high-spec BMW fare. 

The 8 Series can be optioned with glass on some interior surfaces, including the gear knob

Cruising in control

Under the hood lies a new 4.4-litre V8 engine producing 523bhp and 750Nm of torque. You may be thinking, "Eh, doesn't the M5 also have a 4.4-litre V8?" However, this isn't the same engine. It has got a new block and multiple new components, so for all intents and purposes it's a different engine.

Drive it on a stretch of highway and the differences are immediately apparent. This engine doesn't possess the same manic intensity that the engine in the M5 does. Instead, it's more deliberate, working its way up into the power band.

The customisable digital dashboard can be configured to display a wide variety of information

What this means is that the 8 Series is very much a Grand Tourer (GT), easing you into high speeds and wanting you to cruise along, rather than to furiously mash the throttle.

In Comfort mode, it's a very serene and easy drive. The ride is forgiving, steering is light, and the car gobbles up tarmac with ease. Driven lightly, it's as quiet as a 5 Series or 7 Series, we reckon. And of course, get on the gas when you want to overtake and the car will rocket forward with ease. 
In Sport Plus mode, the suspension stiffens up, the steering firms up, and the improved throttle response certainly accentuates the car's dynamic abilities. On open roads, it handles with grace, accuracy and verve that mask its quite substantial size (it is 4,843mm long and 1,902mm wide).

We also got a chance to drive it on the Estoril Circuit, a track that certainly challenges any car's dynamic abilities. Here, it becomes clear that while capable, the 8 Series isn't a full-on sports car. The steering isn't quite as sharp as we'd want it, there's notable understeer in corners, and the car isn't particularly rewarding when pushed to the limit. The 8 Series is much more at home out on public roads. 

The roof features a central cutout that recalls the 'double-bubble' styling of classic racing cars

Covering all ground

We will admit, it's a little difficult to judge the new 8 Series Coupe. For a two-door, four-seater luxury coupe, it manages to tick all of the necessary boxes, but it perhaps doesn't stand out in one particular way.

There's no doubting that the 8 Series looks special, setting itself apart from the rest of BMW's core lineup

It wants to look special, and it definitely manages that. However, the cabin and drive don't quite match up to that. Don't get us wrong, the 8 Series is an extremely competent and capable car, right up there with the best of BMW's core range, but it doesn't quite feel as special as it looks.

And for an asking price estimated to be in the region of just under $600,000 (not including COE), you may be forgiven for wanting something that delivers a little more pizzazz.

But then again, perhaps we're looking at things slightly wrongly. After all, this isn't a car made for the track. No, this is a car made to do everything and go everywhere on a day-to-day basis, and in this regard it performs extremely well.

The 4.4-litre V8 engine pumps out 523bhp and 750Nm of torque

With all-wheel drive, an effortlessly forceful powertrain and ample handling ability on open roads, it's a car that's got you covered across most road-going circumstances. It's also got a 420-litre boot that can be expanded by folding the rear seats, so it's reasonably practical, too. As a jack-of-all-trades luxury coupe, it perfectly fits the bill.

And of course, the 8 Series Coupe is just the first in a series of model variants to come. A Convertible will be available next year, with a Gran Coupe to follow soon after. Following that, a full-blown M8 will be introduced in all three body styles.

The 8 Series Coupe is an elegant and charming car with outstanding GT capabilities

This, then, is just the start. As an elegant, charming and capable GT, the 8 Series Coupe has got it all covered. And for that extra bit of sparkle and soul that is missing right now, we reckon the upcoming M8 will have that sorted.

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