It’s a realm in which Mercedes and latterly Audi have the better of their compatriot, with richer materials and a more convincing technological showcase, but the second-generation 8 Series could change that. Here is an opportunity for BMW to flex some creativity with a cabin that hits the bullseye for grand-touring comfort and technological sophistication.
It’s not been entirely successful here, and while perceived quality is greater than any other BMW in recent memory, the 8 Series’ interior lacks the cheek-puffing ‘wow’ factor of an S-Class Coupé. Even the decadence of the optional crystal gearlever and mirror-ball rotary controls can’t dispel the business-like aura.
What character there is instead stems from the architecture. High window lines, a broad new transmission tunnel (whose inlaid switchgear is particularly slick) and the trademark driver-facing centre console cocoon the driver.
BMW also claims to have angled the prominent lines of the interior longitudinally; along with the high scuttle and low roof, the result is a pronounced pillbox effect that’s pure GT car. Elsewhere, the electroplated surrounds for the ‘closed clasp’ door handles flow nicely into the dash-mounted air vents, but the design of the leather-clad M steering wheel of our test car is functional to the point of being plain. It’s not quite special enough and, by its own admission, BMW has gone for a minimalistic ambience but has perhaps confused that with a lack of imagination.