Engine options, speed, acceleration and refinement

The process of engaging the M8 Competition’s launch control system is a relatively convoluted undertaking, but the pay-off – provided you’re in a suitable environment – is worth witnessing at least once.

Even on a relatively dry track, the M8’s getaway isn’t particularly clean, but once up and running, the rate at which it accrues pace is quite something. Initially, there’s a discernible shuffling off the line as the car attempts to deploy its massive power and torque reserves to the road without breaking traction, but almost immediately afterwards it squats down dramatically on its haunches and rockets away. Upshifts relay a faintly aggressive shunt to the base of your spine, with the transmission allowing the engine to spin close to its 7200rpm redline before swiftly snatching the next gear.

Ultimate pack (£20,000) fitted to our test car included a rather opulent carbonfibre engine cover. As a stand-alone option, it costs £1025, which seems like quite a lot of money for something you’ll rarely see.

The accompanying soundtrack isn’t quite as raucous or characterful as the best AMG V8s, but the numbers vouch for the effectiveness of BMW M’s most powerful production engine. With the fabric roof firmly in place, our timing gear clocked the M8 Competition’s 0-60mph run at 3.3sec, with 100mph arriving in just 7.4sec. That’s notably quicker than 12-cylinder versions of both the Continental GT (3.6sec and 8.1sec respectively) and Aston Martin DB11 (4.0sec, 8.4sec) and very nearly quick enough to land the M8 Competition in bona fide supercar territory. In-gear performance is no less impressive, with the BMW accelerating from 30mph to 70mph while locked in fourth gear in just 4.1sec.

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For all of the M8 Competition’s effectiveness in a straight line, though, its powertrain isn’t without fault. Even in calmer environments, there remains an underlying aggression that mars its effectiveness as a more laid-back, relaxing GT car. The transmission can at times be overeager to engage, making for a step-off that can feel unnecessarily urgent and hurried.

The M8’s carbon brakes provide suitably immense stopping power, bringing the drop-top BMW to a halt from 70mph over a distance of just 44.0m. However, the new by-wire braking system isn’t quite as intuitive as we’d hoped. In Comfort mode, there’s quite a sudden bite at the top of the pedal, which is then amplified in Sport mode to such an extent that you often find yourself braking too early and too suddenly for a corner, while close control over stopping power never feels truly effortless.

Our testers agreed that they’d be willing to swap some of the BMW’s stopping power for a more intuitive pedal progression.