Before it launches, we wanted to get a lay of the grand-touring land and see how the new BMW stacks up to the competition in performance, practicality and price. While some of these models have higher-performance or more-affordable iterations, we picked the versions that would be the closest match to this 8 Series model. They include the 2019 Lexus LC 500, 2018 Mercedes-Benz SL 550, 2018 Mercedes-Benz S 560 Coupe and the 2018 Maserati GranTurismo. We will also provide some short summaries on our experiences with these cars, but to get a full picture of each model, be sure to check out their full reviews. And if you want to compare any of these cars with models you don't see here, be sure to try out our car comparison tool.
Engines, transmissions and performanceOn paper, the BMW M850i xDrive is clearly the performer of the group. It has the most power and torque at 523 horsepower and 553 pound-feet. Coupled with all-wheel-drive and an eight-speed automatic, the car is able to overcome its relatively portly 4,478-pound curb weight to hit 60 mph in a scant 3.6 seconds. That's more than half a second quicker than the lightest car in the group, the Mercedes-Benz SL550, which weighs 4,012 pounds. The other three vehicles are in the low- to mid-4-second range to 60 mph. Though the Maserati is the slowest to 60 mph, it does boast the highest top speed of 186 mph. The M850i and SL 550 are electronically limited to 155 mph, while the Lexus is limited to 168 mph. The Mercedes S 560 has the lowest top speed at an electronically limited 130 mph.
Of interest is that there's a 50/50 split among these cars between using a pair of turbos, and having none at all. The BMW and Mercedes resort to forced induction, whereas the Lexus and Maserati choose to stay naturally aspirated. This is likely why the Germans break 500 pound-feet of torque, while the others don't make it to 400. Also interesting is the spread of gear quantity. The Maserati has just six ratios to choose from, and the Lexus has a whopping 10. Having more gears to choose from probably factors into the fuel economy numbers each car pulls off. The Mercedes S 560 has the best fuel economy in all categories. But the Lexus and the SL 550 are close behind. Each car's rating is separated by just 1 mpg in each category, with the Mercedes doing better in the city and in combined driving, and the Lexus best on the highway. The Maserati is the worst, about 3 to 4 mpg worse than the Lexus and Mercedes SL-Class in each fuel economy category, and a bit more when compared to the S-Class. We can't speak for the BMW since the numbers haven't been revealed yet.
Exterior and interior dimensionsThe largest of these cars is unquestionably the Mercedes-Benz S 560 Coupe. It's nearly 5 inches longer than the next longest Maserati, and nearly 16 inches longer than its SL 550 stablemate. It's also tallest by a little more than 2 inches. It's not the widest, though. That honor goes to the Mercedes SL-Class. Despite the width, the Mercedes SL is definitely the smallest on the outside. It's the shortest in length by a whopping 5 inches, and it's roughly an inch lower than the others.
Things shift around a bit with the interior. Amazingly, four of these coupes do have provisions to fit four people. The SL 550 is the one exception. If you absolutely must cram a human being in the back of one of these coupes, the S 560 is the best bet with the most rear headroom and legroom. The Lexus or the Maserati are roughly tied for second. The Lexus has the most headroom in the back, while the Maserati has the most rear legroom.
For hauling stuff on a long vacation, though, the BMW is the clear winner with a huge 14.8-cubic foot trunk. The Mercedes SL 550 is close behind with 13.5 cubes with the top up, but with the top down, it falls below the S 560's 10.4 cubic feet and Maserati's 9.2 cubic feet. The Lexus has a miniscule trunk in comparison at just 5.4 cubic feet.
PricingNone of these luxury coupes will be cheap, but that doesn't mean price doesn't matter. The Lexus is the most affordable, as it starts below $100,000. Even the optional hybrid model starts under six figures, though it gives up the performance necessary to keep up with the M850i. The BMW and Mercedes SL 550 are nearly even at a bit over $110,000. Technically there is a more affordable Mercedes SL-Class, but it's substantially less powerful, and thus would be a closer competitor to a future 8 Series with a less-powerful engine. Similarly, there are more potent AMG versions of the SL, but they're far more expensive than the BMW. The S 560 is close to being the most expensive at about $125,000, and like the SL 550, there are even faster and far more expensive AMG cousins. But the honor, or dishonor, of being the most expensive goes to the Maserati with a starting price of more than $135,000.
Editors' driving experiencesWe have not had the opportunity to drive even a prototype version of the M850i yet, so we can't say exactly what it's like. We have had plenty of experience with the others in this comparison, though. The Lexus LC 500 wowed us with its looks inside and out, as well as its melodic, naturally aspirated V8. In fact, almost everyone we drove past was wowed, too. The shifting is a touch rough in sportier modes, though, and the gas pedal a little overly sensitive. The Mercedes-Benz SL 550 is highly comfortable, and being able to go from coupe to convertible is always nice. The chassis is capable, but long brake pedal travel and numb steering don't make it the most engaging choice. The Mercedes-Benz S 560 Coupe represents the cruiser of the group. It's silky smooth and elegant, not to mention opulent and luxurious beyond the others here. But it doesn't enjoy being hustled more than it has to. Go with something else if you need to carve canyons. The Maserati GranTurismo, like the Lexus LC 500, has gorgeous looks and a sweet-sounding naturally aspirated V8. It adds to that a more talkative, old-school hydraulically assisted power steering system and a predictable chassis. Where it falls short is in a somewhat dated interior and performance that's falling short of the competition.