The BMW 8 Series Gran Coupé is priced from $122,100 in Canada, $85,000 in the US.
The M8 Gran Coupé starts at $158,000 in Canada, an even $130,000 in the US.
There’s a shocking lack of real-world hype surrounding the M8 Gran Coupé.
I don’t know anyone, in my circle of enthusiastic car people, who has never had a soft-spot for BMW. Given the enthusiast’s average age, most are “older” and are big fans of the German brand until the late 2000s. I’ve lusted over countless BMWs for decades but I too must admit to have seen my interest dwindle slightly in the last decade. Even so, one of my all-time favorite BMWs is the F06 M6 Gran Coupé. I grabbed the keys to M8 Competition Gran Coupé (GC) expecting to fall in lust once more.
What made the previous generation M6 so compelling was a combination of a design that made us forget the awful (no, still not cool) E63 6 Series, the arrival of the first proper answer to the Mercedes-Benz CLS, and, in M6 guise, real performance. The only setback, on paper, for the M6, was the absence of AWD. Now, fast-forward to the M8 Competition GC with AWD and 617 horsepower, and I was salivating at the very thought of my week with the M8.
Powerfully styled, luxuriously, and uniquely appointed
It needs not be said but I will anyhow: Of the 20 colours available, Black Sapphire is the least flattering for what is a sensual automobile. Funny thing is that dark shades are preferred by buyers who want to seem mysterious or dim their car’s visual impact, for some reason. Given how rare a sight a current 8 Series is, it would seem wise to highlight the car. The M8 GC is long, low-slung, wide, and perfectly menacing. Any shade of red, orange, or blue would highlight and enhance the various visual aero bits added to the M8 over the M850i.
Dropping into the M8 is how one discovers one of the most unique aspects of the 8 Series. The range’s dashboard layout is specific to it and is possibly the most visually concise and attractive of all BMWs. For a lack of a better way to describe it, the centre stack and console look more powerful and better designed for driving – it lacks round edges compared to the 5- and 7-Series.
The standard, in Canada for the 2021 model year, Competition package features serious M Sport Seats covered in full Merino leather along with the cool M seat belts. The entire cabin, with seating for five (best for four), conveys power, precision, and in true GT form, impressive comfort for a long yet rapid road trip. On this trip, the driver (and passengers) will get to know more about the lovely included 12.3-inch instrument display, 10.25-inch central touchscreen display, the 4-zone climate control, and Harman/Kardon premium audio system.
Competition speed and power
The heart of the 2021 BMW M8 Competition GC is the magnificent twin-scroll twin-turbocharged 4.4-litre V8 engine. From 2021, only the Competition is offered in Canada which means that the V8 produces an astounding 617 horsepower at 6,000rpm and 553 lb.-ft. of torque from 1,800-5,600rpm. What always impresses with this mill is that it always feels relaxed, even when coaxed by BMW to deliver this kind of power.
The standard 8-speed M Sport automatic transmission, with customizable shift performance, sends the power to the included M xDrive all-wheel-drive system (with RWD capability). This system features a rear active M differential which ensures ultra-dynamic rear-wheel-drive-biased driving fun. All said, the M8 Competition GC crushes the 0-100km/h sprint in only 3.2 seconds.
The M8 Competition feels even faster than the numbers suggest. As I said in my video review, no matter where you drive, this car feels like a weapon, or akin to have a tank in a dodgeball game. The power is certainly addictive but it’s not entirely unique, or the only place within BMW for beamers to get a hit.
Before concluding, I have to say that the included M Adaptive suspension, as it always is in a BMW, is brilliant. The dampers are able to keep the car on the steady even on rougher roads. I suspect that the 19-inch wheels with winter tires (from standard 20-inch wheels and ultra-high performance tires) have much to do with the thin layer of initial comfort in the top-most part of the dampening. Via the multiple drive modes (see video), the chassis tune can be altered but no other setting matches “comfort” for nearly all driving activities.
I walked away from the 2021 BMW M8 Competition GC slightly disappointed. My fervor for the M850i boosted my hopes for this car to a level it could not attend. Furthermore, the $35,000 price hike over the M850i GC, which produces an equal amount of torque, is difficult to truly justify. The Competition is about 0.7 seconds faster to 100km/h but there’s a solution for speed addiction.
And in my opinion, the 2021 BMW M5 Competition, which is also about $35,000 less expensive than the M8, is that solution. It’s as quick, roomier, just as exclusive, and in my opinion, a significantly more passion- and pride-filled purchase.
To summarize, I don’t quite understand why the M8 Competition Gran Coupé exists. The M6 was special, the M5 is a living legend, and this M8 seems opportunistic. I do love the car but I know I will be in love with the M5 Competition when I get to drive it later in the spring, hopefully. The answer was already M5.