Those who’ve ridden in the current-generation 7 Series will understand why BMW’s top limousine falls short against an S-Class. The bigger saloon’s body control is marginally too close, and the spring rates are firmer than strictly necessary. It rides well enough even by the sky-high standards of the class but it’s too exacting – almost deliberately so – for top honours with luxury in mind.
But the 8 Series has a different brief to its saloon sibling, and if you think the above sounds just the ticket for a large GT car operating at the more sporting end of the segment, you would be right. Undoubtedly, the 840d is a firm-riding car for a big coupé, and one whose owners might on longer journeys wish it better adept at quelling jittery road surfaces. But the 8 Series has a chassis that feels far from poorly resolved in outright terms, and has a sense of sporting authenticity and cohesion rare for something its size.
BMW’s decision to go no larger than 20in for the car’s wheel diameter seems smart, and allowed the rolling chassis of our test car to easily digest poorly surfaced non-motorway roads at speed (although this ability shouldn’t be taken for granted of run-flat-shod cars). At 2.3 turns lock to lock, the steering also feels quick enough to get the far-reaching nose into corners economically. The car’s long wheelbase and near-perfect weight distribution lend the chassis a pervasive poise. It’s a cliché to say it, but the 8 Series does shrink around its driver, even though your eyes tell you it should be too big and burly a performance car for many UK roads.