“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.
Encouragingly, his car-guy credentials are as impeccable as they come. Having rallied an Autobianchi Abarth while at university, he now owns an Ariel Atom, which he has fiddled with to improve its ride and handling. He also drives an E30-generation 325e and laughs like a schoolboy when he describes the car’s tail-happy handling.
The new 8 Series, he says, is a sports car and a grand tourer in one. It should slot into the sizeable gap between the Porsche 911 and Mercedes-AMG S63 Coupé – a niche that has been curiously unoccupied for several years. It’s important to note, though, that the 8 Series isn’t merely a 7 Series with a rakish two-door bodyshell. Its multi-link rear suspension actually has more in common with the smaller 5 Series and it sits on coil rather than air springs. The new model is shorter than the outgoing 6 Series, both in terms of overall length and wheelbase. It is slightly wider, though, and sits much further up the sports carfood chain. Van As doesn’t want you to think of it as a direct replacement for the 6 Series.