This time around, the 8 Series is a big two-door GT coupé that BMW would prefer you to think of as a sports car. Such marketing conceits haven’t been uncommon among road test subjects over the past 12 months, and we like to think they don’t fool the Autocar readership.
But BMW contends that the new 8 Series’ performance and handling are both dynamic enough to give credibility to the claim, because it was developed in parallel with the factory M8 GTE FIA endurance racing car; because it’s made of a mix of steel, aluminium, magnesium and carbonfibre-reinforced polymer; and because it’s got relatively powerful engines and intelligent four-wheel drive and four-wheel steering as standard.
The car has an overall length of 4843mm and a 2822mm wheelbase, neither of which screams sports car, although by GT coupé standards those dimensions certainly aren’t huge (both are shorter than the last 6 Series). Our test 840d weighed 1901kg on Millbrook’s scales, making it lighter than the shorter Lexus LC500 coupé we tested in 2017 and the Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 4Matic we tested in October last year.
BMW says it was aiming for “clarity, modernity and emotional engagement” with the car’s styling, and seems to have hit its marks. The design could perhaps be more graceful, tasteful even – and the slightly aggressive look of UK cars has been enforced by BMW UK’s decision to clothe all with M Sport exterior bodystyling as standard.
Some testers preferred the less fussy, more reserved look of the standard exterior design, although a typical BMW buyer would likely opt for an M Sport styling kit if given the choice.
Suspension is by double wishbones and multiple links underneath steel coil springs and adaptive dampers; unlike on rival GTs, there will be no air suspension option. Steering is electrically assisted, and by an active variable ratio ‘integral active’ steering system that acts on both front and rear axles.
Drive goes to the rear axle by default, to then be sent in part to the front one as well as deemed necessary by the car’s intelligent xDrive four-wheel-drive system. Pay for BMW’s optional M Sport Technic package (£2500) and you get beefed-up brakes, a torque-vectoring rear differential and non run-flat performance tyres (which our test car had); otherwise, the 840d comes on run-flat tyres as standard.