I took the earlier this yearFor a spin, and while impressed with its ability to carve corners, I found it to be far too much of a car for most situations, and it sacrificed many of its great Tour credentials for an all-out performance. Now, after a week with the still powerful 2020 M850i, it is clear that the large-bodied BMW Coupe can be a proper GT, even if some parts of the experience are not fully implemented.
- Smoothly if it wants to be
- Skilled handler if you want to be
I do not like it
- The rear seats are assumed to be missing your legs
- More steering
- Brobdingnagian footprint
Like an inverted Tardis
While the 8 Series is considered BMW’s flagship coupe, its exterior design is surprisingly restrained. Sure, my tester does it with an absolutely perfect wildberry metallic paint job valued at $ 5,500 and a carbon exterior package valued at $ 4,100 million that adds useless carbon fiber at various corners, but the overall aesthetic is rather calm , with only a few sharp edges fore and aft aft and quite a bit of smoothness between those points. It’s a good look that doesn’t require you to talk about the car to every passerby – unless of course you get your car in techno purple.
I said this about the M8 competition, and I’ll say it again: the 8 is big. This coupe does a great job of swallowing every available inch of asphalt between the yellow lines. While that’s good in the sense that it feels like you’re getting the car of your money, there are some obvious downsides. Even with 360-degree parking sensors, the front edge is very susceptible to parking bumps, and when trying to park in parallel I wonder whether I can no longer judge which cars fit in which rooms. If someone gets too close to the dashed lines on the highway, I sweat a little more than usual.
In comparison, the interior feels much smaller than the car it is attached to. When I slide into the driver’s seat – and I mean slide since the M850i is a bit low – things are a little tight. The center tunnel crawls quite high and the waistline isn’t ideal for arm out the window, either, which leads to a slight feeling of claustrophobia. This feeling is reinforced in the back, which has seats and headroom only in the name; If your third passenger isn’t a dog, baby, or grocery bag, you can opt for the four-door Gran Coupe if more than two people have somewhere to go.
Even if it feels cramped, the interior design from BMW is great. Extended merino leather is standard, so almost every single point of contact is smooth and well padded. The seats offer both comfort and support on longer journeys. The climate control and option fields are clearly visible and easy to reach without distraction. However, the wireless charging pad is behind the cup holders. This can be tricky if you bring drinks. Storage is … okay, I think, with a large trunk but small door pockets and an equally narrow center armrest. Just toss your old receipts on the back seats. At least they’ll be useful for something then.
Both cruisers and cruise missiles
The BMW M850i does a good job of dividing the difference between the absolute GT nature of the 840i and the bonkers ability of the M8 Competition. The standard adaptive chassis offers actual comfort in considerable doses, absorbs almost every bit of road noise and replaces it with steady driving. Road noise is far less than the M8, which results in a quieter experience over long journeys. Michelin Pilot Sport 3’s runflat tires (245/35 front, 275/30 rear), which wrap around 20-inch wheels, are thin but don’t add much harshness or create the utter cacophony that the stickier rubber offers the M8 competition does, but they’re still a lot grippy when the going gets sideways.
Make no mistake, there is still much Electricity on tap. The M850i features a 4.4-liter, twin-turbocharged V8 that develops 523 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque. This torque appears to be available as often as turning an electric vehicle, with almost every press of the pedal producing a hefty forward thrust with few, if any, gear changes required. What if I have to shoot a gap on the highway? If I think about it, it’s already over – and I’m already over the speed limit to boot. Like the M8, the M850i’s engine gives me more propulsive power than I can reliably use in 99% of real-world situations, which makes the acoustically pleasing exhaust note a problem, as listening to Smokey for too long leads to my rear bumper.
The modes of the M850i are a little more complex than the M8, which has a single screen on which I can adjust key parts of the driving experience piece by piece. For the middle child there are standard modes such as comfort and sport. In an individual mode, I can use any basic setting as a platform for a somewhat customized experience. Honestly, leaving everything in comfort still makes for an exhilarating backroad blaster with a little more room for tiny throttle settings, and it’s my preferred way of driving the M850i, but Sport will do things for those who want one Prefer a more sensitive accelerator pedal, sharpen it sufficiently. Regardless of the mode, the electromechanical steering contains a permanent dose of novocaine in its system, the numbness of which affects the driving experience. It’s still agile, but I don’t get the feeling I want compared to a 911, for example.
The fuel consumption is not particularly high at this price, but better than the M8 competition. The EPA estimates 18 miles per gallon of city and 25 mpg highway, improvements of about 4 per pop over the sharp-edged car, and those numbers are thankfully easy to come by – provided you can ignore the siren chant of constant low-end torque.
All in the family
Anyone familiar with the in-car technology found in most other modern BMWs will find nothing out of the ordinary in the M850i. The latest version of BMW’s iDrive system runs on the 10.2-inch touchscreen on the dashboard, which is responsive and can be operated via the touchscreen or the physical dial on the center console. A home screen provides quick glimpses of the most important areas, but you can override themand up to a wireless software update (at last). It’s by no means perfect; Some options are hidden deep several menus, and not all of them make sense, but over time iDrive becomes muscle memory. The M850i also has gesture control from BMW. This is a distracting gimmick that usually results in unwanted song skips or volume changes when you’re a hand-held speaker. In addition to the wireless charger in front of the cup holders, there is also a USB-A port and a USB-C port in the center armrest cabin for faster juicing.
In addition to the iDrive screen, there is also a 12.3-inch display that functions as an instrument cluster. It looks futuristic enough, but it’s not my favorite. The permanent map can only really be used when turn-by-turn navigation is enabled as no street names are shown and the right half of the cluster just has some different information to display so it doesn’t serve as a function-tight like it may seem.
Security systems abound, provided there are coins to frolic. Automatic emergency braking is standard, but the goodies like BMW’s Active Driving Assistant Pro, which gives you limited time to relax while commuting at low speed in traffic, are hidden behind options: $ 1,100 Adds a parking assistant, one Surround-view camera, lane departure warning, and active blind-spot monitoring are added, while an additional $ 1,700 package is required for the entire shebang. It’s a great system at any speed that keeps the lane in lane with no unwanted movement, and the LED lights in the steering wheel make it possible very obviously when a driver’s full attention is required.
As I would specify
My tester’s starting price for $ 112,895 goes up to $ 131,995 after a few options, but I don’t want pointless frills like carbon fiber interior and exterior panels. My ideal M850i rocks the same $ 5,500 paint job, but I’d switch to free wood paneling on the inside while skipping other aesthetic doodads like my tester’s $ 3,000 carbon roof. Adding the $ 3,400 premium Bowers & Wilkins sound system would be my only benefit as the window sticker stays at a cheaper price of $ 121,795.
Up to brass nails
The 2020 BMW M850i is in the middle of one ton of the competition. If you want something a little smoother, the Porsche 911 is the default, and the Mercedes-AMG GT offers reasonable comfort in an even tighter package. The Mercedes S-Class Coupe is rather luxurious, as is the Lexus LC, which is more like a rolling art exhibition than anything else. You could go for thatI suppose if you want a drop-dead gorgeous car that is otherwise completely surpassed by every other name mentioned.
There is nothing wrong with wanting the best of both worlds in what the BMW M850i embodies. It’s not as crazy as the M8 competition, but it doesn’t focus on serenity like the 840i. The result is a high-performance sports coupé that easily stretches its legs and feels good on long journeys on the road.