And one little thing it's missing.
Styling may be subjective, but we always believed that the 6 Series Gran Coupe was the best-looking modern BMW model. So when BMW decided to kill off the 6 Series lineup, we were understandably distressed. But our dismay quickly turned to joy when the 8 Series replaced the 6 Series in BMW's lineup. Later, the 2020 BMW M8 Gran Coupe arrived, replacing the outgoing M6 Gran Coupe as the prettiest M Car on sale.
The four-door M8 is so popular in fact that it will be the only body style offered for the 2021 model year. Both the coupe and convertible versions of the M8 will take a break (at least for 2021), leaving only the Gran Coupe. After testing a 2020 M8 Gran Coupe for a week, we are here to confirm that BMW made the right move and explain why this is possibly the best M car on sale today. Here are seven mind-blowing features of the M8, along with one key area where we believe it could be improved.
When spending more than $100,000 on a luxury car, most buyers want their vehicle to stand out in a crowd. In our opinion, both the M8 Coupe and Convertible fail at this task, looking too anonymous and generic in side profile. The M8 Gran Coupe does not suffer from this. The Gran Coupe body style, a sedan with a coupe-like roofline, is the ultimate interpretation of BMW's current design ethos.
It sits 9.1 inches longer, 1.4 inches wider, and 2.3 inches taller than the coupe, giving the car a menacing stance like a torpedo. The pillarless doors add a touch of flair, as do the gold calipers found on the carbon-ceramic brake package. This is, by far, the prettiest BMW offered right now, and can't wait to see the upcoming Alpina version.
The M8 might be one of the fastest four-door cars on the planet, but it does not neglect passenger comfort. Aside from some road noise coming from the low profile tires, the cabin remains quiet at high speeds and the ride comfort is genuinely tolerable. The M8 Gran Coupe is built to cross continents in a hurry, and do so without tiring the driver. BMW's suite of semi-autonomous driving systems helps relieve some of the burden associated with the tedious task of stop-and-go traffic. The M8 can retain a set distance from the car in front and keep itself centered in the lane, allowing the driver to relax more than they could in a normal car.
Parking the M8 is also a simple task. BMW's self-parking systems work brilliantly, allowing the M8 to squeeze into parallel and perpendicular spots with no steering intervention from the driver. The back-up assistant and 360-degree cameras make it easy to get out of spots as well, so you don't have to worry scratching your six-figure luxury vehicle.
iDrive works flawlessly in its current seventh iteration. In addition to the familiar rotating knob, drivers can control the infotainment using voice commands, gesture controls, or the touchscreen. We've been particularly critical of BMW's gesture controls, calling them silly and unnecessary, though they worked nearly every time in the M8. The "hey, BMW" voice prompt, on the other hand, needs some fine-tuning though; it often triggered itself accidentally when we just said the word 'BMW' and didn't always trigger when asked.
Ever since the E60 generation M5, BMW M cars have been equipped with a dizzying array of customization. In the M8, drivers can alter the parameters of the engine, chassis, steering, brakes, xDrive system, and transmission logic to create their perfect drive mode. Once you decide how you'd like the car to behave, you can then save those settings to the red M1 and M2 buttons located on the steering wheel. Our ideal setup is the engine in Sport Plus, chassis and steering in Comfort, brakes in Sport, M xDrive in 4WD Sport on M1 and 2WD on M2, and the transmission in its most aggressive shift logic.
The M8 uses BMW's ubiquitous 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8 engine, which produces 600 horsepower and 553 lb-ft of torque, or 617 hp in Competition guise. This power gets routed to an M xDrive all-wheel-drive system through a brilliant eight-speed automatic, though turning off the traction and stability control unlocks a hidden rear-wheel-drive only mode. With the drive to the front disengaged, the M8 Gran Coupe transforms from launch control rocket to tire-shredding monster in a hurry. If so inclined, you can execute smoky burnouts with ease. With all four wheels driven, the M8 Gran Coupe gets off the line in a hurry, with 0-60 mph clocking in at around three seconds.
Not only is the M8 Gran Coupe the best looking BMW, but it is also the most practical version of the M8. Whereas the M8 Coupe and Convertible only offer a puny 29.5 inches of rear legroom, the Gran Coupe's back seat provides a much roomier 36.6 inches. The M8 Gran Coupe can easily haul four people in comfort, though the massive center console in the rear would make it uncomfortable for a fifth passenger. The M8 Gran Coupe also boasts a larger trunk than the Coupe or convertible with 15.5 cubic feet of space.
At $130,000 (before destination), the M8 Gran Coupe is $3,000 cheaper than the less practical two-door M8 Coupe. It's also a whopping $12,500 less than the M8 Convertible. BMW's decision to price the 8 Series Gran Coupe as the least expensive variant could explain why it is selling better than the two other variants. The M8 Gran Coupe still feels like a coupe from the inside, but it offers greater interior volume and cargo capacity, and we think it looks the best of the M8 trio. In our opinion, there is little reason to choose the Coupe or Convertible over the Gran Coupe.
The BMW M8 Gran Coupe is a jack of all trades. It is comfortable, quiet, beautiful, and blisteringly fast. But does it have a soul? All of the German luxury marques remain obsessed with adding technology, seeking to make their cars unlawfully quick to achieve the best magazine testing numbers. With the M8 Gran Coupe, these efforts are wildly successful, but they come at a cost.
Though it can't be measured in a data test, the M8 lacks the soulful nature found in cars like the Lexus LC 500, Aston Martin DB11, or even the humble Mazda MX-5 Miata.
Remember, speed does not always equal fun. In the M8, driver inputs like the steering feel like a one-way conversation where the car is focused on delivering the fastest lap time rather than the biggest grin on its driver's face.
BMW's current direction has steered it away from driver's cars and towards creating isolated speed machines like the M8 Gran Coupe. The company occasionally shows brief returns to purism with models like the M2 CS, but cars such as the M8 Gran Coupe have become the norm. It's great if you want to go fast, but missing a key piece of what we crave from a GT car.