TEST DRIVE: 2021 BMW 840i Gran Coupe

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The interior follows the same rulebook and it actually makes sense. Why change something if it works? And I know some people might be tempted to say the cabin of the 8 Series as a whole model range isn’t special enough but I disagree. There might be some design cues borrowed from the rest of the models in the BMW range today, sure, but it’s the details that make the difference in every premium car.

The inside of the 8 Series Gran Coupe looks absolutely beautiful and I love the way the screen is integrated into the top of the dashboard, that being the best attribute of the car. That’s because unlike in a lot of new models today, the screen’s size is decent and not over the top. And even with this modest size, it provides all the functionality you could need. You can easily see everything you could want on it, from navigation directions, to the media player and everything in between.

Furthermore, you get all of the info in the instrument cluster and/or head-up display too if you want it, so you’ll never miss anything important. The newest versions of the iDrive system also come with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay wirelessly, free of charge and integrated well into the car’s systems. So if you’re using Waze or Gmaps to get around, the driving instructions will pop up in the head up display too, making the infotainment screen redundant.

From then downwards you get a different design compared to any other BMW in the range today. The HVAC controls look similar, but the entire center console is connected to the dash via two side scuffs which, in this case, were highlighted by contrasting stitching. That stitching cut into the Merino leather this car had as an optional feature, fitted all over the impeccable fit and finish inside the cabin, from the dashboard, to the seats.

The roof lining was done in Alcantara and felt absolutely fantastic to the touch. The door panels also have a different design compared to any other BMW in the range today, and our tester also came with the brilliant, optional Bowers & Wilkins sound system that’s worth every penny. It may seem expensive at first but not only does it come with a near-perfect sound but it also brings a set of very beautiful aluminum set of speaker covers featuring a beautiful set of ambient lights beneath and a perfectly cut Fibonacci spiral motif on top.

Marvelous!

To top everything off, the seats are also 8 Series-specific, with a special design and feel to them. They are comfortable and yet supportive, in a rather specific way, something that immediately says: you’re seating in an 8er. They look brilliant too, with the headrest integrated in the seat and you can’t really ask for more. Get the Crafted Clarity optional package too and you’ll notice that the gearshift lever turns into a crystal as do some other bits around it. This way, whatever you touch feels as premium as it gets.

There are some shortcomings too though, as you would imagine in a low-slung, four-door coupe model. Storage spaces are rather limited inside, especially if we’re talking about the doors. You can’t really fit anything in the door pockets, apart maybe from your phone, wallet or a banana. The center armrest is also short of space, but at least there are two full-sized cup holders available in the console.

The back seats might look cool too, replicating the ones up front, but the sloping roofline does cut into the headroom available for the rear passengers. And you might be tempted to squeeze three people back there but I wouldn’t recommend it, as you get a massive center console in the back as well.

I was surprised to see that I could fit in the back though, with the seat in front of me adjusted to my preferred driving position. I’m 6-ft tall and yet could travel in the back, with a slight issue in terms of headroom. Other than that, my knees didn’t touch the back of the front seat.

The Driving Experience

Getting behind the wheel of the 8 Series Gran Coupe might seem like a nerve-wrecking exercise at first then, considering the impressive size of the car in every aspect but it’s really not, even though I was driving inside a very old European city. There are plenty of aids on board to help you out, as even BMW knows the visibility from behind the wheel isn’t great.

Sitting behind the wheel you notice just how small the windows are (that great looking exterior does come at a price) and that rear visibility is terribly affected too. The car has a long hood and that might make you nervous, as you’ll be struggling at first to get accustomed to the extremities of the whole thing.

Luckily, the tech available on board helps out. You get parking sensors in every direction and a 360-degree surround view camera system that has great resolution and work brilliantly at night as well. On top of that, you can also get integral steering if you want and that is a live saver in Europe’s narrow parking lots.



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