Browse over 9,000 car reviews

Sorry, there are no cars that match your search

BMW 8 Series 2020 review: M850i Gran Coupe long-term

Nothing like a thorough scrubbing to highlight a car's hidden details.

If the ‘Why not both?’ idea stands up (pardon the pun) for hard and soft shell tortillas, surely it’s valid when contemplating a premium performance car purchase.

The debate started decades ago (thank you, Rover P5) but BMW has been intent on breaking down the conventional definition of a coupe for some time.

Yes, its two door hardtop models are tagged as coupes, but the Bavarian maker applies the same description to some of its swoopier four-door variants; right up to a variety of top-end SUVs.

The BMW M850i Gran Coupe is a striking machine. The BMW M850i Gran Coupe is a striking machine.

Which leads us to the M850i Gran Coupe. For those who want sleek coupe looks and performance, blended with top-shelf four-door sedan practicality. Porque no los dos, indeed!

BMW has entrusted us with this ‘Frozen Bluestone metallic’ example for three months. Built as an autobahn left lane bomber, we want to see how the twin-turbo V8-powered M850i stacks up as a luxurious executive express in the Australian context.

ShowHide all sections

✅ Report 1 - June 2020

“Is that a 7 Series?” My wife is equal parts unnerved and confused by the question coming out of the blue from a fellow shopper in the supermarket car park.

“No, it’s an 850i,” she responds, hoping that’s the end of the conversation because at this point that’s the sum total of what she knows about the car, 

“Jeez, it’s beautiful. You must be a rev-head?” This guy clearly wants to get his Woolies worth out of this chance encounter. 

“Um, no. It’s on loan. But, yes, it’s very nice to drive,” she says, making a beeline for the driver’s door.

“Wow. You should keep it!” are the final words spoken in this brief but telling exchange. 

You can’t blame innocent bystanders for spontaneously piping up. The BMW M850i Gran Coupe is a striking machine, especially in ‘our’ car’s matt ‘Frozen Bluestone metallic’ finish.

 The BMW M850i Gran Coupe is powered by a twin-turbo 4.4-litre petrol V8 engine. The BMW M850i Gran Coupe is powered by a twin-turbo 4.4-litre petrol V8 engine.

But before we talk about the first month behind the wheel, let’s get a few basics on the table. This is a close to 5.1m long, four-door (with a conventional boot rather than a hatch), powered by a twin-turbo 4.4-litre petrol V8 sending 390kW (523hp) and 750Nm to all four wheels via an eight-speed auto transmission and BMW’s ‘xDrive’ all-wheel drive system.

It’s claimed to blast from 0-100km/h in just 3.9sec, and its coupe credentials are established via a distinctly sloping roofline, modest overall height (1.4m), frameless doors, and a ‘4+1’ seating arrangement.

It’s loaded with enough fruit to stock the local green grocer, including copious amounts of leather, mega harman/kardon audio, four-zone climate control, a 12.3-inch ‘Live Cockpit Professional’ digital instrument cluster (and colour head-up display), customisable ambient lighting, laser headlights (with adaptive beam), a giant glass sunroof, adaptive suspension, monster brakes… the list goes on, and on, and on. 

And that’s without touching on any of the on-board active and passive safety tech, or sophisticated engineering underpinning its dynamic performance.

Inside there's a 12.3-inch ‘Live Cockpit Professional’ digital instrument cluster (and colour head-up display). Inside there's a 12.3-inch ‘Live Cockpit Professional’ digital instrument cluster (and colour head-up display).

So we’re not at the economy end of the new car market here. Before on-road costs the price tag sits at $277,900. And this example features three ‘BMW Individual’ options - the matt metallic paintwork ($2600), full ‘Merino’ leather interior trim in ‘Ivory White’ and ‘‘Night Blue’ ($10,200), and piano black interior elements ($200). So, to replicate this specification you’re looking at $290,900.

And what you get for those dollars is a stealthily beautiful, physically imposing machine, executed with amazing precision, that’s supremely comfortable, and as fast as it sounds.

If a Hollywood foley artist ever needed to capture the sound of a menacing V8 growling into life, this is the car they should prop their microphone behind. A deep, full-bodied rumble that makes hitting the starter button a special occasion, every time.

And one word sums up the first 650-odd km covered in our first month with the car - effortless.

With so much torque available from so few revs, standard adaptive suspension smoothing out the corrugations, and the high-tech dash displays doing their thing, life behind the M850i Gran Coupe’s wheel is extremely pleasant.

Maximum pulling power (750Nm) is available from just 1800rpm, and remains at your disposal all the way to 4600rpm. So the mid-range is a vast ocean of torque ready to wash away surrounding traffic, and the eight-speed auto is ultra smooth. 

Despite the standard 20-inch ‘M’ alloy wheels shod with high performance Bridgestone Potenza S007 rubber (245/35 fr / 275/30 rr), ride quality (especially in Comfort mode) is exceptional.

The front seat heating is brilliant on chilly mornings. The front seat heating is brilliant on chilly mornings.

And the screen quota is filled by the configurable ‘BMW Live Cockpit Professional’ set-up running through a 12.3-inch instrument cluster, with the 10.25-inch ‘Control Display’ managing multimedia and vehicle settings. Toss in the sleek leather trimmed sports seats (heated and ventilated in the front) as well as adjustable ambient lighting, and the overall effect is positively theatrical.

A few niggles. Whenever we’ve filled the car with five occupants it’s clear the centre rear spot is the short-straw position. It’s obviously intended to be an occasional seat, but be aware that’s spelled with a capital O.

It’s clear the centre rear spot is the short-straw position and is intended to be an occasional seat. It’s clear the centre rear spot is the short-straw position and is intended to be an occasional seat.

The 440-litre boot has proved ample for family-of-five grocery shopping, and the rear seat split-folds 40/20/40 if you need more space. The front seat heating is brilliant on chilly mornings (the front centre armrest is also heated!), the Apple CarPlay/ Android Auto set-up is simple, and 16-speaker B&O stereo system cranks.The nose is also quite low, so it pays to take an angled approach and departure when it comes to driveways and (if possible) ramps.

Plus, the price you pay for the power of an angry Norse God under your right foot is at the bowser. BMW claims 10.7L/100km for combined cycle fuel economy, but even in relatively benign urban conditions, that jumped to an at-the-pump average of 13.6L/100km. Still, not shocking considering the M850i's size, weight (1995kg) and performance potential. 

Whisky Cleary approves of the M850i. Whisky Cleary approves of the M850i.

Overall, so far, so (very) good with this stunning four-door. And now we’re a familiar with it, it could be time to explore its dynamic potential a little more thoroughly. Stay tuned.

Acquired: June 2020

Distance travelled this month: 651km

Odometer: 1730km

Average fuel consumption for June: 13.6L/100 (measured at the pump)

✅ Report 2 - July 2020

We’re getting the international ‘wind your window down’ signal. Manual cranks may be a thing of the past, but the globally recognised gesture of thumb and forefinger joined, with the hand making a tight circular motion, is coming in loud and clear from the woman in an X3 sitting next to us in traffic.

Not for the first time, the driver’s window on our long-term BMW M850i Gran Coupe lowers to hear a gushing reinforcement of something we already know. “That is a beautiful car!”, is something you should be ready to hear on a regular basis if you sign on for ownership of this stunning device.

It is proving to be a relaxing, fuss-free conveyance, yet one that’s involving and satisfying to drive, even puttering around the suburbs at speeds barely bothering the ferocious V8 lurking under its bonnet.

And that’s where we left it last time. With several hundred kays under the wheels it felt like time to seek out some more challenging territory and explore the dynamic side of this performance touring car’s personality.

To make things even more interesting the BMW 8 Series planets had aligned to drop the full-fat M8 Competition Gran Coupe into the CarsGuide garage at the same time, so we had a chance to steer them back-to-back for a mini comparison.

The M850I and M8 Competition share the same 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8. The M850I and M8 Competition share the same 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8.

Same 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8, same eight-speed auto, same ‘xDrive’ all-wheel drive system, but the differences are significant. Power jumps from an already immense 390kW, to a slightly unhinged 466kW (625hp). Acceleration from 0-100km/h drops more than half a second to 3.3sec (from 3.9), and cost-of-entry surges into another league at $349,000 (up $71K from $277,900).

So, to set the context, we’re not talking ‘maximum-attack’ tarmac rally-style craziness here. Rather a more focused drive on quiet B-roads, attempting to string corners together in a rapid but smooth flow, sensing the cars’ responses through the hands and seat-of-the-pants.

First up, the M850i immediately impresses with its stability and accuracy. Squeeze the brakes prior to a corner (the standard M Sport package includes big 395mm rotors up front), and this full-size, 2.0-tonne beast remains composed and balanced, the nose barely dipping as speed washes off.'

On the open road the M850i is all the Gran Coupe you’re going to need. On the open road the M850i is all the Gran Coupe you’re going to need.

Turn in and the ‘Integral Active’ electrically-assisted steering provides good road feel, responding to input instantly, with just the right amount of feedback.

Start to feed in the throttle and with all 750Nm of maximum torque available from just 1800rpm, the rear-biased AWD system seamlessly distributes drive to the axle and wheels that can make best use of it.

The M850i comes with BMW's ‘xDrive’ all-wheel drive system. The M850i comes with BMW's ‘xDrive’ all-wheel drive system.

Push harder on exit and the big beamer puts its power down with absolute authority, staying flat and rocketing ahead, ready for more.

The eight-speed auto is slick, and extra fun in manual mode using the wheel-mounted paddles, the 20-inch Bridgestone Potenza S007 rubber (245/35 fr / 275/30 rr) grips hard, and the sports front seat is grippy without a hint of discomfort.

The M850i wears 20-inch alloy wheels. The M850i wears 20-inch alloy wheels.

Despite its frameless door body structure the M850i Gran Coupe feels solid as a rock thanks in no small part to its ‘Carbon Core’ construction, using four primary components - carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP), aluminum, high-strength steel, and magnesium.

Those exotic materials not only enhance overall stiffness, but drop around 130kg from the kerb weight. Add in the standard M Sport differential and Adaptive M Suspension Professional (with an active anti-roll stabilisation system) and you start to get the full picture.

The M850i Gran Coupe feels solid as a rock thanks in no small part to its ‘Carbon Core’ construction. The M850i Gran Coupe feels solid as a rock thanks in no small part to its ‘Carbon Core’ construction.

Like a swan gliding serenely across the lake, legs frantically paddling under the surface, the M850i delivers amazing dynamic performance with the sophisticated electronic and hydraulic systems smoothing everything out behind the scenes.

So, to the M8 Competition Gran Coupe, which straight away feels faster but lacks the M850i’s lighter touch. No matter which drive or suspension mode you select, responses are more aggressive and physical.

We’re in the heart of supercar territory here, and while the M8 remains controlled as it delivers eye-widening acceleration and humongous lateral grip, there’s more of an edge to the experience.

More power, bigger brakes, fatter tyres, but I suspect that’s where the ‘Competition’ bit comes in. To fully explore and enjoy the M8 Competition’s abilities it feels like the race circuit is its more appropriate habitat. 

On the open road the M850i is all the Gran Coupe you’re going to need, and I’d pick up an M235i Gran Coupe with the difference in price! 

Not surprisingly, fuel economy took a bit of a knock for this installment, up to 14.1L/100 from 12.4L/100 the month prior. But with the third (and final) month looming it’ll be time to focus on the thoughtful details we’ve come to appreciate.

Acquired: June 2020

Distance travelled this month: 803km

Odometer: 2533km

Average fuel consumption for July: 14.1L/100 (measured at the pump)

✅ Report 3 - August 2020

Forever ago, my brother and I struck on a genius idea, but to the best of my knowledge neither of us have had the courage to put thought into action.

It’s based on the fact that you only get to grips with the details of a car once you start cleaning it. Every little imperfection raises its nasty head when you’re running suds over the body, vacuuming the carpets, or cleaning the seats.

So, the idea is, when you’re buying a used car, rather than running a casual eye over it before the test drive, grab the hose and a bucket and ask the owner if you can give it a bath.

Unconventional, but potentially revealing, and the thought occurred to me for the bazzillionth time when bringing the M850i Gran Coupe up to scratch prior to its return (sob…) following a three-month tour of duty in the CarsGuide garage.

I thought the matt automotive finish trend was totally 2019 (in fact, 2015) but our ‘Frozen Bluestone metallic’ M850i consistently turned heads and dropped jaws.

From a practicality point-of-view, it looks clean even when it’s not, but running the washing mitt along the sloping turret reinforced this ‘coupe’s’ distinctive shape.

Frothing up the headlights was a reminder that they are (standard) ‘Laserlight’ units incorporating ‘BMW Selective Beam, and that they’re (pardon the pun) brilliant.

The headlights are ‘Laserlight’ units incorporating ‘BMW Selective Beam. The headlights are ‘Laserlight’ units incorporating ‘BMW Selective Beam.

Moving around to the front was also a reminder that the M850i features active shutters in between the vertical bars of its signature ‘kidney’ grille. This allows the engine to reach optimal operating temperature more quickly from cold (shutters closed) to help improve fuel efficiency.

The shutters open when required to cool the radiator and engine bay directly, and shut intermittently at higher speed to improve aero performance, and again help fuel economy.

Our ‘Frozen Bluestone metallic’ M850i consistently turned heads and dropped jaws. Our ‘Frozen Bluestone metallic’ M850i consistently turned heads and dropped jaws.

At the back it was surprising to see what at a distance looks like an exhaust vent behind the rear wheel arches is actually a solid blank. Kinda disappointing. 

Inside, the big snag, that doesn’t exactly require a magnifying glass to unearth, is the interior colour scheme.

As mentioned in the first installment, ‘our’ car features several ‘BMW Individual’ options, including ‘Full Leather ‘Merino’ Ivory White/Night Blue, Black interior colour’ trim for a not insubstantial $10,200. A classic case of, looks amazing in the showroom, pain in the neck on the driveway at home.

The sculpted outer positions of the rear seats are superb. The sculpted outer positions of the rear seats are superb.

Normal use had turned the ivory carpet mats into a maze of black marks and swirling smudges that would do a Jackson Pollock canvas proud. Intensive rectification work using carpet shampoo, a stiff brush, and some elbow grease resulted in an only marginally improved appearance. 

A commercial grade steam cleaner would undoubtedly deliver a better result, as would a pro detailer, but who needs the hassle and expense? The leather on the seats had also started to pick up colour from clothing and general use, so the short story is, think twice before opting for the fancy interior (or buy a set of black mats).

Intensive rectification work using carpet shampoo, a stiff brush, and some elbow grease only marginally cleaned the floor mats.

Intensive rectification work using carpet shampoo, a stiff brush, and some elbow grease only marginally cleaned the floor mats.

Working away on the rest of the interior highlighted the ‘Anthracite’ Alcantara headlining, which also runs down the pillars for an ultra-classy finish, and the amount of light the standard dual-pane panoramic glass sunroof lets in. Very, very, nice.

Running the vacuum brush around the centre console also highlighted the full-leather dash, and standard ‘CraftedClarity glass application’, a faceted treatment adding depth to the audio volume knob, 3D-style gearshift (with LED logo inside), start/stop button, and iDrive control wheel. The jewel-like gear knob in particular, drew a lot of comments, not always flattering.

The jewel-like gear knob in particular, drew a lot of comments. The jewel-like gear knob in particular, drew a lot of comments.

And putting the finishing touches on the rear brought home the opulence of the back seats. The sculpted outer positions are superb (the centre spot is a ‘+1’ occasional position only) and proving comfortable and grippy, while looking the business.  On the flip side, headroom was tight for me at 183cm (6'0").

The full console running back from between the front seats, complete with climate control panel and extra USB-C charge points is deluxe, as well as the fold-down armrest with pop-out cupholders and extra storage.

Back passengers get a middle console featuring climate control and extra USB-C charge points. Back passengers get a middle console featuring climate control and extra USB-C charge points.

In fact, a friend riding in the back commented on “how thoughtful” BMW had been in illuminating the lidded oddments compartment. And she’s right.

This month fuel consumption dropped back to an average of 12.5L/100, which isn’t a million miles away from BMW’s combined cyc;le claim of 10.7L/100km, the overall figure for our 2345km with the car coming in at 13.0L/100km.

Acquired: June 2020

Distance travelled this month: 891km

Odometer: 3424km

Average fuel consumption for July: 12.5L/100 (measured at the pump)


The Wrap

Time to throw in the obligatory line about how hard it was to hand the keys back (very), and how much of an impression the car made while in our possession (substantial). The BMW M850i Gran Coupe is all class, and an astute option in the premium market segment it lives in. 

Likes

Beautiful interior
Clever tech
'Laserlight' headlights

Dislikes

Impractical ivory trim
Not sure on the 'CraftedClarity' glass
Tight rear headroom

Scores

James:

4.3

The Kids:

4.5

$272,900

Based on new car retail price

VIEW PRICING & SPECS