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BMW M850i xDrive 2019 review

EXPERT RATING
8.1
The 8 Series has been absent from BMW's model portfolio for close to 20 years, but the M850i xDrive marks its return with a spectacular combination of looks, luxury and thumping performance.

A fun wildlife fact for you: the Indian rhinoceros, all 2100kg of it, can reach a blistering 55km/h when sprinting. And that is very fast. Quick enough, in fact, to leave even Usain Bolt in its dust, with the world’s fastest man capable of a mere 44.72km/h, even at his record-breaking fastest.

It must be a hell of thing, watching that big and bulky beast clip its top speed. Scarcely believable, even. Which, after climbing out of BMW’s M850i xDrive coupe, is a feeling I’m now very familiar with.

After all, here is a car that tips the scales at a whopping 1965kg, and stretches almost five metres in length and two metres in width, and yet is capable of the kind of scorching acceleration once reserved for the pointiest end of the supercar world.

How quick, you ask? Try 0-100km/h in just 3.7 seconds. Ferrari’s GTC4Lusso T? That’ll take 3.5 seconds. So the M850i is in some pretty serious company.

But is there more to this beastly BMW than a whopping great engine?

BMW 8 Series 2019: M850i
Safety rating
Engine Type4.4L
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded
Fuel Efficiency10.5L/100km
Seating4 seats
Price fromPOA

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   9/10

While Australian specifics are yet to be confirmed, we can make some pretty educated guesses here. And the most obvious one is this; the M850i coupe will arrive at a considerable price, but will be packing lots of features.

How much exactly remains to be seen, but we'd suggest you can expect to pay around $300,000 for the M850i xDrive coupe. And while it might not immediately feel that way, that's something of a bargain.

We're talking, after all, about what is essentially a four-seater with supercar performance, and if you want something just as fast but a little more Italian, you can cross-shop Ferrari's GTC4 Lusso T, which will set you back more than $500k. Or the Bentley Continental GT? Yours for $422,600.

The M850i xDrive arrives with BMW's 'LaserLight' LED headlights, 'Merino' leather and a 16-speaker Harman Kardon stereo. The M850i xDrive arrives with BMW's 'LaserLight' LED headlights, 'Merino' leather and a 16-speaker Harman Kardon stereo.

Even the similarly engined Mercedes-Benz S560 coupe lists at $314,900. So anything under $300k will look like pretty good buying.

Internationally, the M850i xDrive arrives with BMW's 'LaserLight' LED headlights, 'Merino' (though its from cows, not sheep) leather and a 16-speaker Harman Kardon stereo that pairs with the impressive iDrive 7 operating system controlled via a 10.25-inch touchscreen. There’s a second 12.3-inch screen in the driver's binnacle.

There is some clever new technology on show here, too, though how much of it will arrive as standard kit in Australian-delivered cars remains to be seen. For one, you can pair the M850i xDrive with up to six Android phones (not iPhones), which allows you to unlock, start and drive the car just like you would with the key. The new-generation of BMW's Siri-style voice assistant will appear, too.

The iDrive 7 operating system is controlled via a 10.25-inch touchscreen. The iDrive 7 operating system is controlled via a 10.25-inch touchscreen.

But perhaps the coolest new feature is BMW's 'Reversing Assistant', with the M850i automatically remembering the last 50 metres of road in real time, so if you pull into a tight parking garage or meet someone on a narrow country road, and you don't feel comfortable reversing, the car will take over the steering for you, with the driver responsible only for braking and accelerating.

It's likely not something you'll use often, but when you do need it, you'll be thrilled that it's there.

Is there anything interesting about its design?   9/10

Mean and massive, in just about equal parts.

The front-end especially - with its 3D-effect grille that seems to sit out in front of the car like the snarling beast from Alien, its bonnet streaked with powerful lines, its spoiler scattered with carbon-fibre elements and its gigantically long but super narrow headlights which are swept back into the body work - looks all kinds of angry.

  • The M850i's bonnet is streaked with powerful lines and its spoiler scattered with carbon-fibre elements. The M850i's bonnet is streaked with powerful lines and its spoiler scattered with carbon-fibre elements.
  • It rides on 20-inch alloys, with huge blue calipers poking out from behind. It rides on 20-inch alloys, with huge blue calipers poking out from behind.

It rides on 20-inch alloys, with huge blue calipers poking out from behind, and the carbon-fibre roof drops away in that familiar coupe style to a rear end that features plenty of deeply carved crevices for an angry and angular effect.

Climb inside, and you’ll find leather adorning just about every surface (and the luxe, but optional, inclusion of a diamond-shaped glass gearshift), with digital screens dominating the driver’s binnacle and the central dash.

How practical is the space inside?   7/10

Just like that tired old sporting analogy, the M850i xDrive is a story of two halves. Up front, there’s space and kit aplenty. In the back, though… not so much.

For front-seat riders, you’ll find there’s plenty of room on offer, with ample head and shoulder room. There are two cupholders, housed in front of the huge centre console, as well as a wireless charging station and USB connections that sit in front of the gearshift.

In the back, the swooping roofline cuts into headroom but leg and toe-room are seriously tight, too. In the back, the swooping roofline cuts into headroom but leg and toe-room are seriously tight, too.

In the back, though, you’ll find a space that is almost impossibly tight. For one, just getting into the thing - even with the front seat folded as far forward as it will go - requires feats of human origami, and I’m sorry to report that your life won’t be improving much when you do finally squeeze in. The swooping roofline cuts into headroom, of course, but leg and toe-room are seriously, seriously tight, too. Emergency seats only, then.

The boot is surprisingly big and useable, and although there's a skinny opening to navigate, the 420-litre space itself is wide and long, if not particularly deep.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   9/10

It’s a snarling, snapping beast, this engine, a whopping 4.4-litre twin-turbocharged V8 that will produce a staggering 390kW/750Nm - more than enough to make short work of the M850i’s considerable bulk. It’s paired with an eight-speed automatic that funnels power to all four wheels (that’s what the xDrive part of the car’s name means).

The 4.4-litre twin-turbocharged V8 produces a staggering 390kW/750Nm. The 4.4-litre twin-turbocharged V8 produces a staggering 390kW/750Nm.

The powertrain makes for some impressive numbers; a sprint to 100km/h of just 3.7 seconds and a 250km/h (electronically limited) flying top speed. Both of which are tremendous for a big and bulky road car. What’s more, that’s before BMW’s M division reveals its full-blown performance version.

Adaptive M suspension arrives as standard, as do M Sport brakes and four-wheel steering.

How much fuel does it consume?   8/10

BMW reckons the M850i coupe will sip 10.5L/100km, but rest assured you can really blow that number out if you want to. Emissions are pegged at 240g/km of C02.

The M850i is equipped with a 68-litre fuel tank, which means a theoretical driving range of around 650km.

What's it like to drive?   8/10

It's furiously fast, but we know that already. That thumping V8 engine delivers a masterclass in producing a heady flow of torque whenever you touch the accelerator, and the BMW M850i xDrive coupe legitimately pounces forward from a standing start (not to mention the fact it holds what must be the rare distinction of being able to clip 100km/h in the same amount of time it takes to fully enunciate its cumbersome name).

Away from the red mist, though, BMW's equal-fastest model happily settles into a casual and comfortable cruise when dialled into its most benign settings, and the ride, helped by its adaptive suspension, is great at soaking up pretty serious lumps and bumps before they can disturb the cabin.

It’s big and it feels it. It’s big and it feels it.

But big engine or no, there are some irrefutable challenges of physics that simply can’t be ignored.

For one, it’s big and it feels it. Even at slow speeds, you can’t shake the feeling you’re hanging outside the edges of a narrow lane, and you flinch slightly when you face oncoming traffic on narrow roads.

And that bulk is even more apparent when you do unlock more of the M850i’s plentiful power. That booming engine makes for a very quick sprint, sure, but it’s in cornering where you feel the weight more noticeably. 

It’s a wonderfully comfortable and quiet cabin, and the materials and the premium aura they exude are impressive, too. It’s a wonderfully comfortable and quiet cabin, and the materials and the premium aura they exude are impressive, too.

It's not so much through any massive roll in the body - the M850i sits commendably flat even on a challenging race circuit - but more in the way the front tyres moan and refuse to bite until you’ve washed off plenty of speed. Still, you do it safe in the knowledge that you’ll be able to pile on speed again the moment you’re out the other side as that big engine gets to work.

It makes a lot more sense on real roads, though, the big coupe flowing from corner to corner on a effortless wave of torque, exhaust booming all the way, the steering both meaty and accurate.

It’s a wonderfully comfortable and quiet cabin (though in Sport mode, the exhaust can drone on like an Oscar winner’s speech), and the materials and the premium aura they exude are impressive, too.

That booming engine makes for a very quick sprint, sure, but it’s in cornering where you feel the weight more noticeably. That booming engine makes for a very quick sprint, sure, but it’s in cornering where you feel the weight more noticeably.

So an out-and-out supercar it ain't, but it's a polished and premium bruiser guaranteed to turn heads wherever it goes.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

3 years / unlimited km warranty

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   8/10

The BMW M850i coupe promises to arrive ferociously well equipped from a safety perspective, with active cruise, AEB (with pedestrian and cyclist detection), traffic sign recognition, front and rear sensors and an autonomous parking function that will navigate into perpendicular and parallel spots for you joined by a cavalcade of airbags and traction and braking aids. There is more autonomous technology available, but we’ll wait until we see how much of it arrives as standard kit.

The big BMW is yet to be ANCAP safety assessed, but expect a strong score if it is.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   7/10

Expect BMW's three year/unlimited kilometre warranty to apply here, and with a 'condition-based servicing' schedule that means you're car will tell you when work is required. 

BMW does allow you to prepay your service costs at the time of purchase (so you can roll them into your finance deal or ease), but those costs are yet to be confirmed.

Verdict

A cracking blend of beauty and brawn, BMW’s M850i coupe looks and drives like a million bucks. And amazingly, that makes its predicted circa-$300k asking price something of a bargain.

This one is built more for the road than the racetrack (remember there’s a full-blown M-stamped model coming), but in the right circumstances, the M850i really is staggeringly fast. But away from the all the action, it will easily double as a comfortable commuter so quiet you’ll be able to hear complaints from anyone in the backseat perfectly.

Would a BMW 8 Series be welcome in your garage? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.

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EXPERT RATING
8.1
Price and features9
Design9
Practicality7
Engine & trans9
Fuel consumption8
Driving8
Safety8
Ownership7
Andrew Chesterton
Contributing journalist

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