From £124,0707

Munich’s M8 Coupé has all the power and tech of the M5, in a more svelte package

The M8 is now just one of a vast array of BMW’s M cars – although it’s a ‘proper’ M rather than a car with a conventional BMW name and an ‘M’ prefix.

If you’d been able to visit the M part of BMW’s website before websites existed, it would have consisted of a couple of models at most. Today, there are more than 20.

Good fun and with an impressive interior, the M8 gets better as you push harder

Even the M8 has three different bodystyles – coupé, four-door saloon and convertible – and a non-Competition variant available overseas, but not in the UK. This, the M8 Competition Coupé, feels like the most natural, traditional M of the various Eights, then – a two-door vehicle with a rigid shell and as much power as you’ll find in a modern M.

That means 616bhp driving through all four of its wheels, or just the rears if you decide to flick the correct switches, of which, as we’ll learn, there are rather a lot. For this amount of power, BMW asks you £123,470, although even at this price it’s possible to add a few more pounds. Our test car comes in £20k richer.

For this kind of outlay, then, there are loads of alternatives – everything from a Porsche 911 to a Bentley Continental GT to an Aston Martin Vantage and lots else in between. Here comes the best test in the business to see if the M8 is the best grand touring sports coupé.

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The 8 Series line-up at a glance

An entry-level 8 Series coupé is just below £75,000. For the equivalent M model to cost less than double as much is about the only way you might think of the M8 as keenly priced, when other M cars can now come at a far greater relative premium. There are six-cylinder petrol and diesel options in the mainstream range, as well as the turbo V8 M850i xDrive.

That BMW offers the flagship M in all three 8 Series bodystyles shows you how much more wide-reaching a business the M division has become over the past two decades. All three have the same axle dimensions and powertrain – and the fact that the Gran Coupé is expected to dominate the sales mix is reflected by its price.

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BMW M8 First drives