What is it?
The 8 Series Gran Coupé is the latest attempt by BMW to muscle its way into a market for luxurious grand tourers – a particularly hard-fought segment that includes stiff competition in the form of the Audi A7, Mercedes-Benz CLS and Porsche Panamera.
Replacing the undistinguished 6 Series Gran Coupé, it is the third and final instalment in the reborn 8 Series line-up, following the more overtly sporting coupé and cabriolet.
Together with the price-leading rear-wheel-drive model driven here, the initial range also includes the four-wheel-drive 840d xDrive and M850i xDrive Gran Coupé models. In coming weeks, we’ll also see the heavy-hitting M8 Gran Coupé.
Styling-wise, BMW’s upmarket four-door mimics its two-door siblings but features a 201mm longer wheelbase. Like the CLS, it has a traditional notchback-style boot for added structural rigidity, unlike the liftbacks on the A7 and Porsche Panamera.
What's it like?
Inside, the dashboard is shared with the coupé and cabriolet. The driving position is low and spot on, while a higher roof than its siblings offers more head room.
Rear seat ingress is inhibited by the rear wheel arches. That said, the individual rear seats offer ample leg room and acceptable head room: it’s a proper four-seater. The boot, meanwhile, has a relatively high lip and offers 440 litres, which is 90 litres less than the 5 Series saloon.
The turbocharged 3.0-litre six-cylinder petrol engine lacks the punch of the more upmarket 850i Gran Coupé (seen in grey in the above photo gallery) and its turbocharged 4.4-litre V8 petrol, but it’s still very engaging. There are urgent and flexible low-end characteristics, strapping mid-range qualities and a willingness to rev at the business end of the dial. It’s also refined on motorways and has a sonorous but never overbearing exhaust note.
The eight-speed torque-converter gearbox is fast and smooth, both in auto and manual modes. Brake energy recuperation is featured and, in Eco Pro mode, a coasting function idles the engine on extended periods of trailing throttle, helping to make it frugal by class standards.
But the real attraction centres on its engaging dynamics. Relatively simple steel-sprung suspension and BMW’s Integral Active Steering, which provides a subtle steering effect to the rear wheels, make quite a large car feel much smaller than it should.