"The grand tourer is a bit of an odd thing. Fast, yes. Luxurious, even more so. Front-engined, rear-wheel-drive configuration allowing for maximum sidewaysness around roundabouts to shred insanely expensive tyres, yes. But practical? Useful for a spot of real touring? "
All-New BMW 8-Series Convertible
How does BMW's new 8-Series soft-top perform?
When the initial BMW 8-series showed up, it made a massive impact with its impressive wedge shape. It didn’t look like any other BMW of the time and has been well-liked ever since.
This BMW 8-series is a different kettle of fish, though, being more of an heir and a rebranding of the 6-series than something dazzling, dramatic and diverse. Should that turn you off the car? Categorically, no. This is an extremely posh and powerful vehicle that will still give you a tremendous feeling of delight, irrespective of the German automaker’s commercial strategies.
From its launch, the 2019 BMW 8-Series Convertible offers a pair of power units – a 3.0-litre straight-six turbo diesel, and a brawny 4.4-litre V8 turbo petrol. Both engines will ensure you get to 155mph, but the petrol V8 will achieve 62mph in just 3.7-seconds, while the diesel will attain 62mph in 4.9 seconds.
Irrespective of your engine selection, your new 8-series will house an eight-speed automatic gearbox together with ‘xDrive’ all-wheel drive.
The convertible is poised, plush, well-equipped and mind-churningly fast. However, if you’re anticipating sprightliness and tons of steering feel you might be a tad disappointed. This BMW is far better for long cruises over smooth blacktop. That said; as with the contemporary line-up of BMW models, 2019’s 8-series Convertible does sophistication marvellously. Broadly, it provides you with a gratifying driving experience, and despite the soft roof, it is very well insulated.
Indeed, driving with the roof up doesn’t ruin things, as it can in some premium-badged soft tops. That roof is swift, too, opening and shutting in just 15-seconds via the flick of a switch. What’s more, you can activate the powered roof on the go up to 31mph.
Certainly, BMW’s 8-Series Convertible looks stunning with the roof in position or folded down. Meticulous lines delineate the route of the airflow between the front and back wheels while tapering surfaces around the doors spread out at the rear.
The soft-top roof compartment causes the BMW’s body to be a little bit higher than that of the 8-Series Coupé’s. However, with the roof folded away, the rear appears astonishingly flat and low-slung. Additionally, parallel lines and light units stretching out into the flanks accentuate the girth of the car. Then there is the third brake light housed in the boot lid, which adds to the low and sporty look.
Other model-exclusive features incorporate a bunch of contour lines on the boot, while the BMW’s L-shaped rear light-units are emphasised by the line of the taillight bar that illuminates up evenly. Twin exhaust tailpipes finish off the lower area of the car’s rear apron nicely.
Step inside, and the 8-series has a cockpit that will please most BMW buffs – or indeed anyone spending six-figures. The quality is just what you might imagine. Sumptuous leather covers the cabin, with metals and plastics blending in well. It is typically driver-focused and very well screwed together. The controls are all logically organised, too, meaning you feel right at home the instant you get behind the wheel.
A digital display takes over from what would be dials in most cars – and BMW’s iDrive infotainment system comes with a touchscreen, voice control and a rotary dial next to the gear shifter – both now available in crystal.
For an upmarket convertible, this is a reasonably spacious car. There are four seats, but only a couple of small children and their obligatory child seats will fit in the rear. This isn’t down to headroom or width – it is due to the tight legroom. As for cargo capacity, the 8-Series Convertible’s boot offers 350-litres, which is generous for a car of this class. But there’s more: the BMW’s rear-seat backrest can be divided 50:50 and, because of a ‘through-loading’ facility, the volume of the boot can be expanded as needed. So that the load compartment provides as much flexibility as possible, the soft-top section can be raised, and the through-loading feature utilised even when motoring with the top down.
If you’re thinking about buying a car priced over £100,000, you probably won’t be too bothered about how much it costs to run. But if it does interest you, the M850i xDrive Convertible I drove will do around 28mpg. That doesn’t sound much, but it’s not bad for a car churning out 530ps!
Finally, when it comes to that all-important word ‘safety’, you have got nothing to fear. There’s a mass of kit built into this Bavarian convertible, including a head-up display, cameras and sensors. Furthermore, if the unthinkable happens and the car flips, a roll-bar automatically deploys, shielding the heads of everyone inside.
Fast Facts (2019 BMW M850i xDrive Convertible)
- Max speed: 155 mph
- 0-62 mph: 3.7 seconds
- Combined MPG: 28.2 mpg
- Engine layout: 4395cc V8 twin-turbo petrol
- power (PS): 530
- CO2: 229 g/km
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