BMW follows a simple recipe: make fast and luxurious cars by default, send them over to the M division to be converted into low-flying rocket ships, while completely ruining their daily drivability. A compromise on this has seen the M-badge being used quite liberally across the range, where the M division isn’t given a complete freehand to exercise their motorsport prowess. But for the M8, BMW M had to think differently.
For starters, the M8 is a very good-looking car. It is the best-looking BMW currently in the line-up in fact. The two-door coupe sits low and long and is hard to fault from any observable angle. You don’t even get a chance to complain about its grille, something we’ve gotten used to ranting about BMW’s recent cars. Tug open its long doors and you are greeted with an upmarket interior, upholstered with top-class leather, contoured with carbon fibre and brushed metal bits that glow softly under the calming ambient lights of its interiors. Add to these the M Sport seats with bolstered sides and over a dozen adjustments and the M8 affirms its position as a comfortable intercontinental cruiser. The control surfaces feel typically BMW, which is a good thing though, as its
iDrive feature combined with the 10-inch touchscreen is still the most intuitive command system in the industry. Its digital instrumentation cluster too is one of the sportiest I’ve come across since driving the Lamborghini Huracan—speaking of which reminds me of the M8’sbiblical performance.
While the BMW M8 borrows its 4.4-litre, twin-turbo V8 engine from the BMW M5, the dynamics are hugely different here. The two-door coupe sits lower and wider than the M5, giving it a more grounded feel. Where the M5 feels brutish, emanating a ‘German muscle car’ vibe, the M8 feels more refined and settled. Let’s not confuse refined with slow though, because that’s one thing the M8 isn’t. If you engage the relatively easy Launch Control and let the car do the off-the line mathematics, then you will rapidly sprint to 100kmph from standstill in just 3.2 seconds! Keep the pedal pinned and you will touch 200 clicks in a little over 10 seconds! The surge of power is just relentless. Unlike most turbocharged cars that start running out of breath, the M8 keeps pulling with dollops of torque right up to the redline.
Having said that, the whole process, while warp-speed fast, doesn’t feel abrupt. Building up speed in the BMW M8 feels like a well-orchestrated surge. The engine, the chassis, the transmission and the steering help distribute its 600 horsepower and 750Nm of torque to the road via a four-wheel-drive system that, while being rear-biased, offers excellent traction even under heavy acceleration. The system can be switched to rear-wheel only, but you’d need to be on your fifth coffee and sixth Redbull, as it switches off all electronic aids. This means that the slightest misdemeanour on the gas pedal lends huge sideways action with a lot of opposite lock.
But the BMW M8 being a GT car needs to be more than a straight-line weapon. And this is where the M division had to considerably rethink its strategy in trying to find a balance between setting up the car’s suspensions; from overly firm and track-focused to a compliant and comfortable grand tourer… Good news is that they’ve done it! The M8, while feeling a bit stiff on Indian roads, still has a lot of compliance at its softest settings, as a consequence of which the big GT car doesn’t feel bumpy over bad patches at normal road speeds. I found myself exclusively using the softest settings though, as it would be better to reserve the two stiffer levels for track use, at least on Indian roads.
As expected, the BMW M8 is also the most mature of the M cars. Dictated by its GT character, it isn’t as snarly as its M-Badged siblings while being even faster and dynamically more capable. Where M cars feel like a Floyd Mayweather jab on each gear change, the M8 gearshifts are more forgiving to the neck muscles. The steering too, while being excellently weighted and precise—as you’d expect of a BMW to be—isn’t immediate. As a result, in pure GT car fashion, the M8 doesn’t attack corners, but rather flows through them at incredible speeds. Like a good, fast GT car, the M8 lets you find your comfortable pace and stick to it all day.
The previous generation E31 8 Series was a very special car—before the introduction of the flagship 850 CSi that shared its 12-cylinder engine with the legendary McLaren F1. Four decades later, amidst a polarising digital world filled with armchair opinion-makers, it’s good to know that BMW hasn’t caved in to dilute the formula for making a ballistic continent-crusher.
At ₹2.17 crore (before options), the M8 is the most expensive BMW currently on sale. It also puts the Bavarian carmaker right in the firing line of cars like the Porsche 911, Aston Martin Vantage, Jaguar F-Type (V8) and the Mercedes- AMG S 63. To compete may seem like a tall order, but then the BMW M8 offers performance that’s at par with and even better than some of its rivals. After all, it is the closest one can get to a road-hugging torpedo with a blue and white roundel.