Earlier this year, I took thefor a lap, and while I was impressed with her cornering prowess, I found her entirely too much car for most situations, and she sacrificed many of her grand touring credentials in favor of absolute performance. Now, after a week with the 2020 M850i still very powerful, it is clear that BMW’s large coupe can be a true GT, even if some parts of the experience have not been fully realized.
- Smooth when you want
- Skillful manager when he wants to be
I do not like
- The rear seats assume you are missing your legs
- Steering meh
- Brobdingnagian footprint
Like a Tardis in reverse
While the 8 Series is considered BMW’s flagship coupe, its exterior design is surprisingly understated. Sure, my tester gets things done with an absolutely perfect $ 5,500 Wildberry Metallic paint job and a $ 4,100M carbon outer package that adds unnecessary carbon fiber at various angles, but the overall aesthetic is on the quiet side, with only a few sharp edges in front and aft rear and a lot of softness between those points. It’s a cool look that won’t let you talk about the car to all passersby, unless, of course, you have yours in techno-purple.
I said it about the M8 Competition, and I repeat it: the 8 Series is great. This coupe does a great job absorbing every available inch of asphalt between the yellow lines. While this is good in the sense that you feel like you have the car for your money’s worth, there are some obvious downsides. Even with the 360-degree parking sensors, the leading edge is very susceptible to parking docks and parallel parking attempts leave me wondering if I’ve lost the ability to judge which cars can fit into which spaces. If someone on the freeway misses too close to the dotted lines, I find myself sweating a little more than usual.
The interior, in comparison, looks much smaller than the car it is attached to. When I slide into the driver’s seat – and I mean slide, as the M850i is a bit low – things are a bit cramped. The center tunnel creeps quite high and the waistline isn’t ideal for out-of-window rides, causing a slight sense of claustrophobia. That feeling is amplified in the rear, which possesses seating and head room in name only; Unless your third passenger is a dog, a child, or a grocery bag, you may want to jump for the four-door Gran Coupe if more than two people have nowhere to go.
While it might seem cramped, the BMW’s interior design is fantastic. Extended Merino leather is standard, so nearly every single point of contact is smooth and well cushioned, and the seats offer both ample comfort and support on longer journeys. The climate control and radio buttons are prominent and easy to reach without distraction, but the wireless charging pad is hidden behind the cup holders, which can be tricky if you’re carrying drinks. Stowage is fine, I guess, with a sizable trunk but tiny door pockets and an equally narrow center armrest storage. Throw your old receipts on the back seats; at least they will be useful for something then.
Both cruiser and cruise missile
The BMW M850i does a good job of separating the difference between the 840i’s true GT nature and the insane capabilities of the M8 Competition. The standard adaptive suspension offers actual comfort in considerable doses, absorbing almost every crumb of the road and replacing it with a constant cruise. Road noise is far less than that of the M8, which ensures a more peaceful experience on long journeys. The Michelin Pilot Sport 3 Runflat tires (245/35 front, 275/30 rear) wrapping 20-inch wheels are thin, but they don’t impart much harshness, nor do they generate the sheer cacophony that the stickier rubber on the M8 Competition does, but they are still very snug when the game gets sideways.
Make no mistake, it’s still there abundance of power on plug. The M850i features a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 that delivers 523 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque. That torque seems to be available as often as the twist of an EV, with nearly every pedal push eliciting a strong forward thrust with few, if any, gear changes required. If I have to take a passage on the highway? When I think about it, it’s already over and I’ve already exceeded the speed limit to begin with. Like the M8, the M850i’s powertrain gives me more driving force than I can reliably use in 99% real-life situations, which makes acoustically pleasing exhaust note an issue, since listening to it for too long will end up with Smokey burning to path to my rear bumper.
The modes of the M850i are a little more complex than the M8, which offers a single screen that allows me to customize key parts of the driving experience in a piecemeal fashion. On the middle kid here, there are predefined modes like Comfort and Sport, with an Individual mode that allows me to use any basic setting as a platform for a slightly more personalized experience. Honestly, leaving everything in Comfort still makes for a thrilling back-road blaster, with a little more room for minimal throttle adjustments, and it’s my favorite way to drive the M850i, but the Sport will sharpen things up enough to those who prefer a tougher accelerator pedal. Regardless of the mode, the electromechanical steering has a permanent dose of Novocain in its system, its numbness detracts from the driving experience. It’s still nimble, but I don’t get the feeling I want compared to, say, a 911.
The fuel economy, if you care about it at this price, isn’t great, but it’s better than the M8 Competition. The EPA estimates 18 miles per city gallon and 25 mpg on the freeway, about 4 a pop improvements over the sharper-edged car, and those numbers are thankfully easy enough to come by, provided you can ignore the song of the car. constant torque siren at bass. .
All in family
Anyone familiar with in-car technology in most other modern BMWs will find nothing out of the ordinary about the M850i. The 10.2-inch touchscreen on the dashboard runs the latest version of BMW’s iDrive system, which is responsive and can be operated via the touchscreen or physical dial on the center console. A splash screen gives you a quick glance at the most important bits, but you can ignore them withand, pending an over-the-air software update, (long last). It’s not perfect anywhere; some options are hidden in several menus deep down, and not all of them are found sensibly, but over time iDrive becomes muscle memory. The M850i also packs BMW’s gesture control, which is a distracting gimmick that usually results in unwanted song skips or volume changes if you speak with your hands. In addition to the wireless charger in front of the cup holders, there’s also a USB-A port up there, with a USB-C port in the center armrest compartment for faster spin.
In addition to the iDrive screen, there is also a 12.3-inch display that serves as a cluster of indicators. It looks futuristic enough, but it’s not my favorite. The permanent map is only truly usable when turn-by-turn navigation is enabled, because it doesn’t show street names, and the right half of the cluster offers only a few different information to view, so it’s not as dense as it might seem.
Security systems abound, as long as there are coins lying around. Automatic emergency braking is standard, but good things like BMW’s Active Driving Assistant Pro, which will allow you to enjoy a limited amount of time while traveling at low speeds (below 37 mph) in traffic, are hidden behind the options: $ 1,100 adds parking assistance, a surround camera, lane departure warning and active blind spot monitoring, while the full show also requires a $ 1,700 package. It’s a great system at any speed, keeping the lane free of unwanted movement and the LED lights in the steering wheel do that very obvious when the driver’s full attention is guaranteed.
How would I specify it
My tester’s starting price of $ 112,895 goes to $ 131,995 after a few options, but I don’t want unnecessary frills like carbon fiber trims inside and out. My ideal M850i rocks the same $ 5,500 paint job, but I’d switch to a free wood trim on the inside while skipping other aesthetic elements like my tester’s $ 3,000 carbon roof. Adding the $ 3,400 Bowers & Wilkins premium sound system would be my only splurge, stopping the more palatable $ 121,795 window sticker.
Up to brass tacks
The 2020 BMW M850i is in the middle of a tonne of competition. If you want something a little more agile, the Porsche 911 is the default, and the Mercedes-AMG GT offers decent comfort in an even more constricting casing. The Mercedes S-Class Coupe is more wrong on the luxury side, as is the Lexus LC, which is more like a rolling art exhibit than anything else. You could opt for the, I suppose, if you want a gorgeous car that is otherwise completely outclassed by every other name mentioned.
There is nothing wrong with wanting the best of both worlds, which is what the BMW M850i embodies. It’s not as insane as the M8 Competition, but it’s not as focused on serenity as the 840i. The result is a capable sports coupe that has no problem reaching out and getting comfortable on long road trips.