REVIEW | The 2020 BMW M8 Competition is one smooth brute

The M8 Competition pairs BMW’s most powerful engine with the brand’s most alluring body.
The M8 Competition pairs BMW’s most powerful engine with the brand’s most alluring body.
Image: DENIS DROPPA

Another day, another Beemer.

Lately it’s been raining BMWs as the Bavarian factory fires out new models seemingly quicker than comrades scramble for PPE tenders.

But this M8 Competition is a particularly special Beemer. It is the loftiest heights you can scale in the brand’s hierarchy of sports models, and it pairs BMW’s most alluring body shape with the company’s most powerful engine. And the most expensive asking price in the Bavarian line up too, at R3.3m for the M8 Competition Coupe and R3.4m for the M8 Competition Convertible.

Under that long, almost phallic bonnet resides the high-revving 4.4l twin turbo V8 that powers assorted M Competition model in the Bavarian line-up, and 'tis an explosive performer indeed.

The car accelerates like the paper unspooling in a party whistle.

The M8 Competition Coupe blitzed the 0-100km/h sprint in just 3.1 seconds when we attached a Vbox and took the car to Gerotek for high-performance testing — even quicker than the factory-claimed 3.2 seconds.

With launch control the thrust in a standing start feels quite breathtaking, snapping your head back like a right hook from Mike Tyson. Keep the throttle pinned and the momentum builds with undiminished fervour as it races to a top speed that’s governed to 305km/h instead of the usual 250.

Rear-seat space under that curvy roof is very limited.
Rear-seat space under that curvy roof is very limited.
Image: DENIS DROPPA

Aside from the braai-side bragging rights of such numbers, what you have here is a car that has all the grunt needed for any driving situation, such as effortlessly blasting past long trucks when quick overtakes are called for. There are no hesitations in the thrust as the turbo V8 and eight-speed Streptronic transmission keep the car on the boil across the rev range.

The V8 has a fairly mighty voice too, making a sportingly deep-throated rumble without being overwhelmingly loud or drony.

The M8 is a large car, and while it’s no Mini Cooper in terms of zippy handling, for a grand tourer it’s a rewarding drive when the road gets twisty.

An asymmetrical wheel setup has rear tyres that are slightly wider than the fronts, as part of a road-gripping package that includes four-wheel drive (4WD) and an Active M Differential at the rear wheels.

In the default 4WD mode, and in the 4WD Sport which diverts more engine power to the rear wheels, the power is  harnessed to allow playfully thrustful driving instead of having to go easy on the throttle the whole time.

For a more “purist” drive there is a two-wheel drive mode which simultaneously deactivates the Dynamic Stability Control — but it calls for well honed driving skills to deal with the car’s loose tail.

The interior has M‑specific design cues including exclusive M Sport seats and dual-tone leather/alcantara trim.
The interior has M‑specific design cues including exclusive M Sport seats and dual-tone leather/alcantara trim.
Image: DENIS DROPPA

Drivers can also select from Road, Sport and Track settings which adapt the car’s character to the task at hand.

M Compound brakes come standard, but for racetrack use M Carbon ceramic discs can be optioned for R128,000.

Away from high-adrenaline exploits, the M8 is a car that doesn’t always feel like it’s straining at the leash begging for action. When you’re not in the mood for exploring the limits of its g-forces, this grand tourer drives with a laid-back civility that takes you by surprise.

With its adaptive suspension set to a milder mode, the rock-hard ride one might expect from such a powerful car is absent; it’s an easygoing commuter with compliant ride quality and a decent ground clearance.

In regular driving it even sips fuel at the impressively low rate of 12l 100km, compared to guzzling more than 20l when we drove it like a getaway car.

The 8 Series’ luxuriously low-slung design makes an athletic statement (especially in the test car’s beautiful matt blue) and features such as a black chrome kidney grille surround and a carbon fibre “double bubble” roof help identify it as the top gun in the 8 Series range.

The cabin lays on sporting luxury with M‑specific design cues such as exclusive M Sport seats, dual-tone leather/Alcantara trim, carbon fibre elements and M-specific screens in the instrument cluster.

There are officially four seats in this two-door coupe but the cramped rear is better suited to small dogs than humans with its low roof and almost nonexistent legroom. The M8 Competition Gran Coupe will make a much better family car with its four doors and much roomier back seat.

The M8 coupe’s boot is a decent-sized 420l though, which accommodates a fair amount of luggage or golf bags, and the backrests flip down to expand the cargo area.

This two-door version of BMW’s top sports model, while low on rear space, delivers luxury and everyday useability that aren’t sacrificed despite the supercar-like performance. Perched on top of BMW’s totem pole, the M8 Competition charms with its combination of racetrack-taming thrust and relative civility.


Tech Specs

Engine

Type: Eight-cylinder petrol turbo

Capacity: 4,395cc

Power: 460kW

Torque: 750Nm

Transmission

Type: Eight-speed M Steptronic auto

Drivetrain

Type: xDrive intelligent all-wheel drive

Performance

Top speed: 250km/h (305km/h)

0-100km/h: 3.2 seconds (claimed); 3.1 seconds (as tested)

Fuel Consumption: 10.6l/100km (claimed); 12.0l/100km (as tested)

Emissions: 242g/km

Standard features 

M Sport seats, electrically adjustable front seats with ventilation and heating, ABS brakes, Dynamic Stability Control, M Compound brakes, six airbags, stability control, adaptive M suspension, electric windows, rain sensor, climate control, parking camera, infotainment system with voice control,  Bowers & Wilkins Diamond surround sound system, head-up display, digital instrument panel, LED daytime running lights, automatic LED headlamps, Driving Assist Professional (including Active cruise control lane keeping assist and crossing traffic warning), adaptive laser headlights, M Carbon exterior package, front tyres: 275/35 R 20, rear: 285/35 R 20

Warranty: Two years/unlimited km

Service plan: Five years/100,000km

Price: R3,300,272

Lease*: R70,215

* at 10% interest over 60 months no deposit

Competition

Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S 4Matic+ 4-door Coupe, 470kW/900Nm — R3,275,800

Porsche Panamera Turbo S e hybrid Sport Turismo, 500kW/850Nm — R3,505,000

Porsche Taycan Turbo, 500kW/850Nm — R3,426,000

BMW M8 Competition Coupe

WE LIKE: Performance, everyday usability, that blue paint job

WE DISLIKE: Cramped rear seats

VERDICT: Fast and civilised BMW bombshell

Motor News star rating

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