Or are there better drop-top options?
In a world where luxurious two-door convertibles are sales poison, it feels strange that BMW has two such vehicles in its lineup. There's the 4 Series Convertible, which spans from reasonably affordable to outright expensive, and the 8 Series Convertible is the company's flagship model, so of course it's pricey. We haven't forgotten about the Z4, but that's a sportier, smaller roadster. The 2023 8 Series lineup received a slight update at the start of the year, and CarBuzz has never had the chance to sample it in the base 840i guise with its turbocharged six-cylinder engine - until now.
This was the perfect opportunity, as we recently wrapped up a week in the 2023 BMW M4, a vehicle that with options is priced very close to the 840i Convertible. These two cars may share a body style, but they offer completely different philosophies for entirely separate buyers. Let's talk about the good (and the bad) of the 2023 8 Series.
No massive grille. You can all let out a collective sigh of relief. The facelifted 8er has dodged all questionable styling decisions from BMW, including split headlights and massive kidney grilles. This is a handsome drop top, but that being said, it's far from a striking design. The 8 Series feels conservative (especially in Alpine White) next to rivals like the new Mercedes-AMG SL and the concept-like Lexus LC 500. Perhaps that's what customers in this segment are searching for: luxury with anonymity.
Our test car carried very few options, though the $650 M Sport Professional Package and $1,300 20-inch M V-spoke bi-color Orbit Grey wheels increase curb appeal without ballooning the price too much. A more unique color option like Portimao Blue Metallic, San Remo Green Metallic, or Aventurin Red Metallic ($1,950) would do wonders to help the 840i stand out a bit more.
Though it lacks the technological spectacle of the iX, the 8 Series (even in base configuration) is a nice environment in which to spend time. The cabin is quiet despite the cloth roof and the seats (though they lack a massage option) are comfortable over long distances. A new 12.3-inch touchscreen replaces the outgoing 10.25-inch unit, and after going straight from the M4 into the 8 Series, the extra inches where instantly noticeable. We should note, however, the 8 Series continues to use an older version of BMW's iDrive infotainment software, not the latest iDrive 8. Our article comparing the 2023 M3 and M4 discusses the difference between the two systems.
Other aspects of the interior are virtually unchanged from last year. All cabin materials feel expensive, especially the $650 glass controls that light up at night. Our biggest interior gripe, aside from the lack of massage seats, is the rear seat. We didn't expect them to be spacious, but they offer less head and leg room than the cheaper 4 Series Convertible.
Our other biggest gripe relates to the 3.0-liter B58 turbocharged inline-six engine under the hood in the 840i. Almost every application of this engine, including the M440i and Toyota Supra, now produces 382 horsepower. Yet in a vehicle that costs nearly six figures to start, it still produces just 335 hp and 368 lb-ft of torque. The rear-wheel-drive 840i will sprint from 0-60 mph in five seconds, or 4.6 seconds with xDrive all-wheel drive. There's nothing wrong with these performance numbers, but we couldn't help but feel cheated when a cheaper M440i pulled up at a set of lights and beat us off the line. BMW should have increased the power so it's on par with other models.
In our honest opinion, unless you truly don't care at all about performance, the M850i xDrive is the ideal 8 Series variant. It packs a potent 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 with 523 hp, good for a 0-60 mph sprint in just 3.8 seconds, but it doesn't suffer from the same harsh ride as the M8 Competition. It's also only $12,100 more than the 840i xDrive, whereas the M8 Competition Convertible requires a substantial $43,700 premium over the 840i xDrive.
Perhaps BMW didn't bother upping the power because it knows who will buy this car. The 8 Series, especially in convertible guise, is not a canyon-carving, track-focused weapon. It's a gentle cruiser that most owners will take to the golf course or on an occasional weekend getaway trip. With that purpose in mind, the 840i fulfills its role perfectly. The suspension is supple, the steering is light without feeling devoid of all feel, and the engine provides reasonable passing power despite being down a few horsepower compared to its siblings.
Though the M440i and M4 would win in a drag race, they can't match the 840i on luxury. If you care more about supple suspension than outright power, the 8 Series is the car for you. We understand why BMW offers both cars, even if the numbers on paper make the 840i seem underwhelming.
The 2023 840i Convertible starts at $97,100, and our tester carried a few options that brought the price to $99,050 before destination ($995). If you want the 840i xDrive, it's $100,000 even, while the aforementioned M850i xDrive and M8 Competition cost $112,100 and $143,700, respectively. For the price of the 840i, we are more convinced by the Lexus LC 500 Convertible at $102,350. It offers similar comfort and practicality (or lack thereof) and a 471-hp V8 that sounds much better than BMW's inline-six. However, the Lexus technology suite pales in comparison to BMW's.
If we were purchasing an 8 Series Convertible, it would easily be the M850i. It offers far greater performance than the Lexus without getting too close to the $137,400 starting price of the Mercedes SL 55, which we prefer to the M8. Though we enjoyed the 840i as a comfy cruiser, the M850i remains the 8 Series Convertible we recommend.