The 4.4-litre motor in it will develop much more than 500bhp and it’ll drive all four wheels. What you need to know about the car is that it’s every bit as accelerative as that horsepower figure suggests, and it’s also nimble and athletic.
But what’s most remarkable about the pre-production 8 Series I drove for a few hours on the best roads in North Wales, though, is that it won’t even be the fastest model. That honour will belong to the full-fat M8.
We don’t yet know when the M8 will arrive or exactly how much power it’ll have, but you can bet your house on it being even faster and even more potent than the 592bhp M5. It will sit right at the head of BMW’s model line-up, like a navy’s flagship. The M850i, which you can see here in camo-wrapped pre-production form? It’s just the warm-up act.
“This is as close as we’ve ever got to a full M car with an M Performance model,” says 8 Series line director Markus Flasch. I won’t disagree.
How BMW has honed the new 8 Series
In the latter stages of 8 Series development, BMW has deployed a team of powertrain and chassis engineers, plus a small fleet of 8 Series development cars, to the UK.
Over the course of a week or so, those engineers will pound around North Wales to make sure the chassis tuning and the engine and gearbox calibration actually work on our roads.
“The UK is an important market for the 8 Series,” says vehicle dynamics engineer Jos van As. “Your roads are often very narrow, sometimes only a bit wider than the car. That means you need the steering to be really precise. The roads are also bumpy and very undulating, so we need to make sure the chassis can deal with them.”
Dutchman van As is ultimately responsible for the way the M850i drives.