There's a lot to drink in when sizing up the new BMW M8 Gran Coupe. For starters it’s an M6 Gran Coupe essentially reborn on a new platform, within a new skin and bearing a fancier name.
In person its visual package still commands a presence our car’s Ametrine metallic purple only amplifies. Yes, while its fastback styling is more obvious when ogled from a front-three quarter angle, its slanted C-pillar helps hide the fact an M8 coupe has been stretched to 5098mm to accommodate a pair of doors. Importantly this adds 200mm worth of wheelbase and the chance to seat a fourth passenger thanks to a new extra seatbelt. But, they’re going to have to be keen on the ride, given they’ll need to straddle a tunnel that extends from the central glovebox to the rear bench.
At least the M8 Gran Coupe has the horsepower to handle the added weight. Relying on the same S63 twin-turbo V8 bolted in the coupe, it has 460kW and 750Nm to haul its extra 95kg of flab. Matched to an all-wheel drive system and massive tyres, measuring 275mm at the front and 285mm out back, it’s claimed to hustle to 100km/h from rest in 3.3 seconds and reach double that speed in 10.8sec. Keep your foot pinned and the M8 Gran Coupe will eventually hit 305km/h.
Comparison: BMW M8 Competition v Porsche 911 Turbo S
There’s no doubt the M8 GC is monstrously quick. Launched from a stop its eight-speed automatic unleashes a torque surge that throws you back like a crazed grizzly bear. And the V8’s just as savage in the top-end when 460kW drives home at 6000rpm. Your head only briefly leaves the seat as gearchanges disappear in an instant. Surprisingly, and despite all its might, the car’s thick-blocked Pirelli P Zeros can only extract a 3.58sec 0-100km/h time from damp conditions.
Lowering the windows during the next run proves the M exhaust system’s fat pipes are not only for show. They unlock a rasp note while loudly crackling on the overrun. But from the inside the engine still sounds anodyne and, you’d swear, slightly manufactured. Perhaps BMW wants to keep the peace in what is an especially quiet cabin. It’s classier than an M5 Competition’s thanks to its unique stack and sculpted door handles, while the M Sport seats are regenerating to relax in. On theme with treating its driver like royalty the M8 also lays out a platter of ways to set up its hardware for a Sunday blat. For instance, the brakes are now electrically assisted and offer two levels of pressure. You can also choose a 2WD mode for when you want to theoretically remove the front drive shafts – and perhaps your brain.
Read next: 2020 BMW M8 Competition performance review
Given how big the car feels on the road, and especially without rear-wheel steering on local models, we left the car in 4WD Sport for most of the time. The MDM mode that accompanies it gives you more than enough rope and the centre differential is lazy about maintaining all-wheel drive grip in the wet. You can’t have 2WD with any DSC assistance, either, so you’re going to be feeling especially brave to switch it on. And it takes a while to near the level of trust needed to exploit this car’s performance in these conditions.
It’s already an awfully big and heavy thing to pilot in corners. Trying to baby it with slow inputs and trail braking only confuses its balance and struggles to build meaningful grip. You need to grab its scruff instead. Brake hard and late with a yank at the wheel then its nervousness disappears. Suddenly, the suspension loads up with grip and it rotates, setting itself up for the straight and a rocket ride to the next corner before repeating the process.
There’s something cool about hustling a two-tonne lump of leather to have it point and shoot like a WRX. But overall it might lag behind the Mercedes-AMG GT63 on sheer ability or an Audi RS7 for bang for buck. It appeals most for everyday duties, where its smooth automatic and spongy ride inject luxury into its low-speed experience.
Deciding if the M8 GC’s for you means figuring out what you really want. If it’s the kick of transporting four passengers with V8 grunt then maybe the much cheaper M550i xDrive does the job. But if it’s class-leading luxury and refinement, then the M8 Gran Coupe makes a strong case. Only, at $354,900, it’s a lot to drink in.
BMW M8 Gran coupe specs
Engine 4395cc V8, DOHC, 32v, twin-turbo
power 460kW @ 6000rpm
torque 750Nm @ 1800-5800rpm
0-100km/h 3.58sec (tested)
Weight 1980kg • price $354,900
Like: Tremendous grunt; decent exhaust note; nice ride; cosseting refined interior
Dislike: Cheaper four-door V8 options at BMW; 2WD a bit terrifying without DSC