Can a car company show off? It seems absurd; the kind of embarrassing, unedifying behaviour that only ego-driven, status-obsessed human beings engage in. And yet look at BMW’s new 8 Series, with its shinily silly cut-glass gear lever, its laser headlights, its outrageously powerful V8 engine and its bullfrog-but-beautiful stance - surely this is showing off on a corporate scale?

To be fair, when a car company makes a new range-topper - and BMW only applies the number 8 to its most special vehicles, think Z8 and i8 - it really is about making a kind of look-at-me statement. 

A car as obviously ostentatious as the M850i xDrive Coupe (and Convertible) has to appeal to buyers, even if it’s only a small and wealthy target market. And there is plenty that’s appealing about this old-fashioned yet modern-looking grand tourer, from the incredible way it accelerates to its luxuriant ride quality and decadent interior.

It would want to be impressive, of course, with a price tag of $272,900 (or $9000 more for the Convertible).

So, has the new 8 Series BMW got what it takes to separate the very rich from their hard-earned megabucks? We donned our shiniest shoes and went to the launch to find out.