The new BMW M850i is the best 4-seater grand touring coupe in the world. There, I said it.
Being a sub-mid-level Auto Critic has its advantages. One of which is getting the occasional call from a carmaker offering me the opportunity to review a car. Of these calls, some allow me to select a booking date while others inform me that it’s available either next week, or sometime after its mid-cycle refresh three years from now. I got a call for the new 2019 BMW M850i xDrive Coupé.
Being a late-80s and 90s kid, the E31 BMW 8 Series was one of my favorite cars. It was up there with the 964 Porsche 911, the Volkswagen Corrado, the Acura NSX and others, to name a few. Unlike the latter three cars, I’ve never had the opportunity to drive an 840i or an 850i. When, on a snowy Thursday afternoon, BMW Canada said I could pick up the all-new 2019 BMW M850i the following Monday, whatever I had booked took a backseat to the big Bimmer Coupé.
True beauty and elegance
I honestly wasn’t expecting to drive the new M850i xDrive so I’d read a number of reviews on the car, including our first drive which was published last November. As such, I had expectations and was eagerly anticipating the key-fob handoff and when it finally happened, I melted.
I’d seen the car at numerous auto shows but somehow, I wasn’t ready for this car’s seductive and disarming good looks. Draped in Barcelona Blue, the M850i seemed subdued, caged even. Normally, Sonic Speed Blue or Sunset Orange would have been my choice but Barcelona Blue married every curve and angle on this car with a hazy glow.
My tester sported a winter wheel package which explains why the car was rolling on 19-inch wheels instead of one of the many 20-inch units. Despite this “setback”, the BMW M850i is positively drop-dead gorgeous. The proportions are spot-on while size seems to vary depending on the angle – it’s big and taut at once.
Luxury and comfort
On board, the cabin could teach a design lesson to would-be designers. The ergonomics, various materials and surfaces unite for a presentation that is both upscale and sporty. Everything or nearly is included with the base $123,500 car but my tester’s two-tone merino leather are as much a conversation starter as they are functional. The sole element I would pass on is the glass shifter as part of the $4,000 Executive package.
The standard front multifunctional seats were designed to keep its occupants comfortable and rested over long distances. That, they do, as well as snuggly hold onto you when the drive route takes you through serious switchbacks. They are sublime.
There’s little else to add here other than all the connectivity features are part of the car and can be access through the iDrive wheel or the large 10.25-inch well-positioned screen.
Drives like a dream
In relation to the size, the 2019 BMW M850i xDrive features one of my favorite 21st century driving aids: rear-wheel steering or in BMW-speak, Integral Active Steering. The M850i is a larger coupe but the car shrinks to beyond manageable in all driving instances. Be it in town pulling a U-turn or changing lanes at a high rate of speed, the BMW feels like it fits in your pocket.
Getting up to speed is silly fun, and easy. The twin-turbocharged 4.4-litre V8 produces a lazy 523-horsepower and 553 lb.-ft. of torque from 1,800-4,600 rpm. I say lazy because the engine feels like it’s barely trying when the car is in fact flying – much like my friend Bob in high-school who aced every subject without studying while I passed by the skin of my teeth after studying as though my life depended on it.
Easy V8 power
No matter the drive mode, the V8 and associated 8-speed automatic transmission do their thing with bewildering ease as though it was under-performing. And yet, this 4,500-lb AWD 2+2 mega-loaded 2-door coupe effortlessly crushes the 0-100km/h sprint in only 3.8 seconds. Hands down and with ease, the BMW M850i is the fastest among GTs which includes the Aston Martin DB11, Bentley Continental and handily demolishes the Mercedes-Benz S 560 4MATIC Coupe which happens to retail for at least $30,000 more.
And while on the road to the heavens, the BMW M850i settles into its grooves, unscathed by corners, curves, ruts and bumps thanks to the standard Adaptive M Suspension with active roll stabilization. So surefooted is this car, so solid and poised that the speed indicated on the beautiful 12.3″ instrument cluster seems off by at least 40 km/h. Oh to be able to barrel down the Autobahn in this car!
I’ve not been this enamored with a BMW car since I reviewed the 1M eight years ago. The BMW M240i blew me away but I might hesitate a moment and consider a few other $50,000 cars before this one.
In its segment, for the price (even at $132,000 for my tester), there is no other option. None. No other 2+2 grand touring car personifies the spirit of the GT better than the 2019 BMW M850i xDrive Coupé. Best of all, it’s far from being the most expensive and yet will be nearly as exclusive as the Bentley, and not to mention more attractive.