After a painstakingly long time of more than 27 years, we witnessed in 2018 the return of the BMW 8-Series and last year the release of its M-family members, the M8 and M8 Competition. During the 90’s, the long, sleek, sexy coupe with its pillarless greenhouse offered its drivers a restrained elegance and sheer sense of grand touring mixed with a bit of sportiness.
Two versions were available at that time, which offered the customer a choice of eight or twelve cylinders mated to a six-speed manual. A M8 variant was created in concept form, but never landed in the showrooms across the globe.
The latest iteration of the 8-Series saw the release of the M850i (mistakenly referred to as the M8) and a 840d in three variants; Coupe, Convertible and Gran Coupe. Shaped and designed as the pinnacle of what the Bavarians would have to offer for the years to come, the 8-Series saw a release that was greatly applauded, but never showed a major lift off in sales that would threaten the hegemony of its main competitor, the Porsche 911.
The M8 and M8 Competition however were destined for the greatest and offered our media team at Shmee150 – the car influencer and YouTube creator – the option to acquire a M8C model specced completely by ourselves and dressed in an unique green color that referred back to the history of the 90’s 8-Series, known under the name Oxford Green.
Photos: @mybmwadventures on Instagram
With the spec sheet in our hands, we went even further and choose for a wide range of functionality and options from the accessory list. Next to the green paint work, we opted for the Silverstone/Black Merino leather interior with carbon interior package, 20″ M LMR 813 M Bicolor wheels, Bowers & Wilkins Diamond Surround sound system, and a plethora of other features making it a top of the line vehicle.
The package became a trip down memory lane offering a touch of grand tourer and style to the M8 Competition that we felt fitting to the car. The final price tag? Over 200,000 EUR including 19% VAT (local sales tax).
Delivery and first kilometers
Due to the Covid-19 implications in the first of half 2020, the car arrived later than anticipated, but offered us a wonderful opportunity to experience the first 10,000 km during Spring and Summer time. The start of the journey required 2,000 km of running-in the vehicle ahead of its first service.
The first miles immediately showed us that the M8 Competition is a comfortable and powerful two-door meant for long journeys bringing you from A to B in style and comfort. The Competition part in its name is definitely felt through the set-up of the car.
The chassis and expansion joints communicate vigorously to you on rough surfaced roads and the steering feels more precise than its M Performance brother, the M850i. Add this to the choice of going full RWD via the drive menus and you know there is more to it than just a grand tourer.
Photos by @vincero.photography on Instagram
The initial 2,000 km were done on German highways and roads, and required us to change our “iron Autobahn” foot for a more velvet one. Delicacy is the game when it comes to the running-in process. The same was required here. The time ahead of the running-in service didn’t show much issues other than a climate control compressor, which decided to stop working after the car’s second drive.
The compressor failed after the car had been standing still waiting for our arrival and collection. An issue known at the BMW’s client support department and something also familiar among M5 F90 owners. The issue was quickly repaired with the help of a local German dealer, who replaced the compressor accordingly.
After the running-in service
The running-in service allowed us to bring the car for its 2K km service and fit some additional M Performance parts, which are available via local BMW dealers and for customers of the M8-series. Additional carbon covers were fitted under the bonnet, new carbon air intake covers were placed on the front bumper alongside a new carbon front grille, and the look of the sides was improved with carbon side skirt attachments.
On the inside, new M Performance floor mats were complimented by carbon paddle shifters and new carbon trim on the steering wheel. A M Performance car cover finished off the whole range of parts. All together, we created an unique look to the car in collaboration with the people at BMW M Performance.
Looking back at the upgrades and seeing which parts we finally added to the car, we feel that especially the side skirts on the outside and the steering wheel trim on the inside offered the best upgrades to the look of the car.
The other parts are nice extras for sure, but if we had to make a choice out of all based on a more limited budget, then it would be the side skirts and steering wheel parts mentioned above. Those really stand out and are a must-have for those who have opted for the carbon trim packages for the interior and exterior of factory.
It’s quicker than BMW claims
The running-in service also meant that the M8 Competition could now be used more sporty, at higher speeds and under more heavy loads. To celebrate this we took the vehicle up the Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse in Austria. The pass connects Bruck in the state of Salzburg with Heiligenblut in Carinthia via Fuscher Törl and Hochtor Pass at 2,504 m, making it the second highest route in Europe. A great opportunity to test the car’s capabilities and potential.
The roads to the mountain pass, but more importantly the mountain pass itself, showed the sheer brilliance that lays underneath the killer looking bodywork of the M8 Competition. In comfort mode, you have the ability to glide over the roads with ease, providing excellence and brilliance.
With the radio off, the cabin is dead silent with hardly any noise from the outside coming into the cabin. The only annoying bit are the fans of the seat cooling. They are so loud inside the cabin, that they are far from appropriate inside a luxury coupe as the M8.
The switch to Sport and Sport Plus is made via the M1 or M2 buttons on the M steering wheel or via the M mode and Setup buttons in the center console, which offer a new set up for people who are used to adjusting their M modes on previous M cars.
Photos by @maros_zvarik on Instagram
A new track mode is also available, disabling all unnecessary features such as the safety systems and the center iDrive display, while the head-up display and driver’s display change the looks for a more improved track setup. Additionally, you can opt for a Normal or Sport mode for the brakes, which is a welcoming highlight for high-speed Autobahn runs.
For those wondering, our preferred setting for the M1 mode during the initial kilometers was Sport for the Engine and Brakes. Chassis and Steering were in Comfort and M xDrive was 4WD. The M2 button was set to Sport Plus for the Engine and Chassis. Steering and Brakes were Sport with the M xDrive in 4WD Sport.
The choice for these settings follows from the idea that no M mode engaged, is just for cruising. M1 for chill Autobahn runs and M2 as the most sporty setting. The latter was also used on the mountain stretch were the car really showed its true identity and face.
The swooping twisty roads of the Gross Glockner pass provided an excellent testing ground for myself to dive deep into the ability of the M8 Competition. First of all, I had to note to myself that the M8 isn’t a small car, nor is it a light car capable of changing direction like a M-powered 2-Series which joined me on the drive.
The revealing thoughts that I was left with after I reached the top of the pass showcased that the M8 Competition in its true nature is more a grand tourer than a sports coupe. Don’t get me wrong, the top of the line M8 is an absolute monster in a straight line and around corners.
But is it on the 911’s level? Not quite, but it’s damn near close.
On the performance front, I have established nothing more but respect. Even from fellow drivers who tried to keep up with the Bavarian I received the same. The immense 750Nm of torque kicks in just above idle (1,800rpm), meaning your neck muscles are tested the moment you hit the throttle.
The full strain lasts into the engine’s upper reaches at 6,000rpm and 625HP. This machine feels as quick as, if not a lot quicker than, the Bavarians claim and that would not be the first time. The steering feel is nicely weighted and precise enough for what you expect from the mastodon, which weighs shy of 2,000 kgs. Same can be said of the brakes which offer ample stopping power and are on their toes when you need them to be.
If you want to appoint a star of the show then it is the M xDrive, which is the most fun in its 4WD Sport mode. The tuning of the Active M Differential combined with the performance coming from the drivetrain allows for lovely ///M style playfulness that is capable of hiding the weight of the M8.
Job well done by the engineers, who have made major steps since the M5 F90 we used two years ago. With the M5 LCI having received all the lessons learned from the M8, we are looking forward to our first go in the new top of the line 5er.
Daily transport reaching over 10,000 km
With the fun over in the mountain passes, the M8 continued its journey across numerous European countries while hitting city centers, roads and highways that aren’t always as smooth as those found in Germany. During these journeys the M8 Competition slowly showed some small niggles that urged some attention in a BMW mechanic.
The left side mirror attachment developed an interesting cracking noise and the trunk of the car decided to open itself twice during a car wash. A more severe issue was the return of the malfunctioning climate control system on a trip to the United Kingdom.
A visit at a local service center in the UK allowed for the necessary repairs and checks. The replacement of the battery was required and proved to be the initial problem, which caused the air-condition compressor to malfunction in the early days of our ownership.
Other than these little niggles, the car performed flawlessly and showed what a great grand tourer it could be, which doesn’t mean we don’t have a few points we want to share with you as an interested reader. Those could be of importance when you opt for the M8 (Competition) in your search for a new sporty but more importantly grand touring and elegant coupe.
Let’s first touch on the interior, where the rears seats are not meant for grown-up adults and tall individuals. We used the space in the rear for transporting people, and the lack of space was often the first point of conversation after we left. Secondly, we already discussed the noticeable noise for the seat cooling fans, but that is not all. The controls of the seat heating and seat cooling are far from ingenious and require a mix of button and touchscreen presses before they work. Not the most easy to use.
Another interesting point to note is the sheer lack of reception for your mobile phone via its cellular network and its build-in GPS receiver. While using Waze as my primary navigation software during my travels, I noticed that the reception of the GPS dropped away quite regularly, that the navigation software jumped to nearby roads and that often I only had little phone reception. It is unknown what causes the problem, but it could be the lower roofline which create a smaller window to pick up the signals.
The last niggles that we have to touch on are the voice control, which is a feature you should simply never use, because it will only recognize people speaking “Hoch Deutsch” or flawless English, and the use of gestures. Those worked fine in the M5, but proved to be a pain in the M8.
When you control the central positioned climate control buttons, you often switch off the volume of the radio unintentionally. And if you feel you want to raise the volume by rotating your finger, then the gesture is not recognized. It is amazing to see how well this all worked in the M5 and how the M8 is the total opposite. The impact of a different roofline and your position in the car clearly makes a huge difference.
Not much to be precise. The first 10,000 km in the BMW M8 Competition has showcased that the vehicle is simply a touch too much car for normal roads because of its physical size, but also because its sheer level of performance via its peachy powertrain.
Anyone living outside Germany won’t ever touch the upper ends of the car’s performance envelope outside a race track. Just floor the throttle at any point, and look a few seconds later at the speedo. Whoops, is it that fast?! Yes, it is…
Add this to the sheer amount of people meticulously investigating the car when it was parked, giving thumbs up on the highway, bow their head after a high speed chase on the Autobahn, and all we can say is that the M8 Competition is able to leave a mighty presence that we didn’t expect initially.
The total package is one of luxury, a nice level of brilliance and that joyful M character making it the right kind of package for those looking for a superb looking grand tourer with that signature rotating propeller logo on the front.
So on paper, the M8 does all the things it should do and it did them well during our initial 10,000 kms. For many, it will tick off all the boxes, but in comparison to the competition isn’t maybe as sporty as the AMG GT 63 S or a 911, and not as comfortable and luxury as maybe a Continental GT or Porsche Panamera, which offer just those additional flavors the M8 Competition lacks.
This is not a major concern more a point of note, because against the stopwatch, the M8 fears none of these challengers and that might well be the true aim of this fearless grand tourer.