The 2020 BMW 8 Series is the automaker's ultimate personal luxury machine. It’s been a long time since there was an 8 Series in BMW’s lineup, and we’re glad to see it back. It takes the concept of executive motoring and puts it in far more body styles than just the simple two-door grand-touring coupe of the 1990s. Today's version basically serves two purposes: a new brand-topping halo model and a replacement for the now completely-dead-in-America 6 Series, offering up similar shapes and sizes as that model once did.
Those body styles are a Coupe, Convertible and Gran Coupe, the latter of which has four doors. Each offers a range of models/engines that cover the spectrum. The frugal 840i is the base spec model for each shape, followed by the M850i, M8 and M8 Competition that represent an ascending staircase of high-performance versions.
Even the M versions, however, are capable grand tourers. Similar to its few competitors, the 8 Series’ character is that of luxury performance. The Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe and Convertible, Lexus LC 500 and Porsche 911 are the most obvious cars to cross-shop with the new 8 Series in two-door form. When the Gran Coupe is taken into consideration, the competition opens up to others like the Mercedes CLS and AMG GT 4-Door Coupe, Audi RS7, Porsche Panamera and even some friendly fire from BMW's M5. Really, it’s a wonderful time to be in the market for a fast grand tourer.
What’s new for 2020?
BMW only introduced the new 8 Series for the 2019 model year, but there are multiple new models joining the ranks for 2020. The addition of the four-door Gran Coupe is the biggest news. It can be viewed as a more practical alternative to the two-door 8 Series models, or as a more stylish alternative to BMW's 5 and 7 series.
The M8 and M8 Competition models also join the 2020 lineup for every version of 8 Series available. Both come with the same 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8, but differ in horsepower (600 in the M8, 617 in the Competition) and other performance attributes. These are the fastest and most expensive 8 Series models.
What’s the 8 Series interior and in-car technology like?
The 8 Series’ cabin provides a genuine air of luxury that has often been missing from BMW's past high-dollar two-door models that were of a high quality but lacked a certain flair of design and materials. With available trim choices of rich wood, ceramic and even crystal, there's no shortage of flair. Yet, there's also plenty of functionality. Older BMWs were typically bereft of small item storage and useful cupholders. The 8 Series, by contrast, has large door bins, decent cupholders, a wireless charging pad and an under-armrest bin big enough to hold a smartphone, sunglasses case, water bottle and a hat.
Massive screens are as present in this BMW as they are in the luxurious competitors — BMW makes a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and 10.25-inch infotainment screen standard equipment. We’ve had some bad go-rounds with BMW’s wireless Apple CarPlay, including in an M850i, but at least it’s free now. The iDrive interface itself has a rather steep learning curve and there are simpler interfaces available, but we at least appreciate the redundant control options that include control knob, touchscreen and voice controls.
How big is the BMW 8 Series?
The 2020 BMW 8 Series is a large car in each body style, but in the two-door versions at least, that doesn't translate to large interior space. Both the Coupe and Convertible are meant for one or two people for longer journeys, as its confining 29.5 inches of rear legroom makes sure of that. The Gran Coupe, on the other hand, not only has an extra set of doors but 7.9 inches of extra wheelbase that opens the backseat up to 36.6 inches of rear legroom, making it livable for a couple of occupants. The middle seat is technically open for business, but the tunnel is so high that any passenger who isn’t a child would be extremely uncomfortable. If this is a problem, there's always the mechanically related BMW 5 or 7 Series.
Trunk space is properly large for a grand tourer, and the Coupe isn’t far behind the Gran Coupe, either. The Coupe can easily hold a trip’s worth of baggage at 14.8 cubic feet, and the Gran Coupe has 15.5 cubic feet of space available. A Convertible intrudes a bit more at 12.4 cubic feet, but it’s still enough for a shorter getaway. The actual shape of the trunk is fantastic, too. It’s easy to load bags in then push them all the way back into the dark, rectangular cavern within. The lack of compromises to storage with this slick body makes us happy, and the Gran Coupe is definitely the way to go if practicality is high up on your list of priorities.
What’s the 8 Series’ performance and fuel economy?
The 2020 BMW 840i models, all with standard rear-wheel drive and optional xDrive all-wheel drive, have a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six that produces 335 horsepower and 368 pound-feet of torque. BMW claims 0-60 mph arrives in 4.7 seconds for the Coupe, but the engine feels more powerful than it’s rated. Fuel economy for the Coupe is 25 mpg combined, whereas the Convertible and Gran Coupe drop down to 24 mpg combined. Adding all-wheel drive brings all 840i xDrive variants down to 23 mpg combined.
An M850i xDrive is the next level of performance, and it’s a big jump from the inline-six to a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8. Power goes up to 523 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque, bringing the Coupe to 60 mph in a scant 3.5 seconds. The Gran Coupe and Convertible both get there in 3.8 seconds. Fuel economy suffers with the additional power, bringing the combined rating down to 20 mpg for all body styles.
The top-dog M8 has a revised 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 that produces 600 horsepower in base trim and 617 horsepower in Competition spec. Both hit 60 mph in 3.0 seconds, which is near supercar-level acceleration. The top speed is 190 mph. Fuel economy information isn’t available yet for the BMW M8 variants.
What’s the 8 Series like to drive?
The 2020 BMW 8 Series is quick no matter the engine choice you opt for, and always excels at providing an effortless yet engaging driving experience. The 840i models have a comfortable ride, but are still agile when tasked with a winding road. There’s a noticeable amount of body roll when swinging the car around, but it’s controlled and measured enough to never get out of hand. This compliance in the suspension is appreciated on long highway slogs and broken pavement. Road noise is minimal, and when optioned, the BMW driving assistance features do a great job of lessening the workload on the driver. There’s absolutely zero shame in selecting the turbo inline-six here, but things only get better as the engine gets bigger.
An M850i xDrive is a great middle ground option between the 840i and the M8. The M8 is considerably quicker, but the M850i xDrive’s 523 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque punches nearly as hard. Acceleration is brutal and unending. Turbocharging has sapped some character from BMW's mills, but there's no arguing with the performance and relative efficiency they're able to achieve. The M850i Coupe will hit 60 mph in 3.5 seconds, thrusting you effortlessly forward as all four wheels claw at the pavement for traction. It is absolute overkill, and the overall dynamic package might actually be better appreciated if the engine wasn't there to constantly steal the show.
Then, there’s the M8 and M8 Competition. There’s noticeably more body control and responsiveness compared to the M850i in all modes. Steering provides a decent amount of feedback — there’s enough information and buildup of effort through the thick-rimmed wheel to lend confidence in high-speed corners, but the overall impression veers more towards isolation. Vast reserves of power are available from the twin-turbocharged V8 but can be difficult to access on winding public roads. Aim it at an open stretch of highway, however, and the M8 reaches triple-digit speeds in what seems like no time at all. In its quieter setting, the exhaust note is just quiet enough to enable comfortable motoring all day long. Switch to the louder setting, and an artificially enhanced sound delivers a refined but convincing cabin-filling baritone note.
What more can I read about the BMW 8 Series?
Read our first impressions behind the wheel of the new 8 Series when it launched.
We hop into the more practical four-door BMW 840i Gran Coupe.
Here's what we think of the ultimate BMW 8 Series: The M8 and M8 Competition.
We spend a week in the M850i Convertible to see if the middle child is the best.
The all-wheel drive xDrive version of the 8 Series with the base inline-six is superb in winter.
Adding a pair of doors let's you share the 523 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque in the M850i flavor of 8 Series.
What features are available and what’s the 8 Series price?
Since the 2020 BMW 8 Series is offered in so many variations, there’s a wide range of prices to match. Only the 840i can be had in rear-wheel drive, with the rest of the 8 Series lineup being all-wheel drive only.
This being the pinnacle of the BMW lineup, there’s an astoundingly long list of standard features. You can find that list along with specs and local pricing here on Autoblog.
It's also important to note how the M8 versions differ from the series models. Besides its more powerful V8 engine, the M8 gains an edge that its grand-touring siblings lack. Both the standard M8 and M8 Competition benefit from larger brakes, larger and lighter wheels, and beefier tires to cope with the extra power and performance. Engineers tweaked the transmission and M xDrive for improved performance, faster shifting and better response. The M8s also benefit from an upgraded intelligent Active M rear differential to make the most of the extra power. And similarly to the system found in the M5, the M8 in all forms can disable its all-wheel drive system to become rear-wheel drive only at the touch of a button, in the event some sideways hooning is in demand.. The M8 Competition further adds a dedicated Track Mode, which maxes out the performance settings on the engine, suspension, steering, braking and all-wheel drive setting, while disabling the radio and control console to relieve the driver of any distraction.
- 840i Coupe: $88,895
- 840i xDrive Coupe: $91,795
- M850i xDrive Coupe: $112,895
- M8 Coupe: $133,995
- M8 Competition Coupe: $146,995
- 840i Convertible: $98,395
- 840i xDrive Convertible: $101,295
- M850i xDrive Convertible: $122,395
- M8 Convertible: $143,495
- M8 Competition Convertible: $156,495
- 840i Gran Coupe: $85,895
- 840i xDrive Gran Coupe: $88,795
- M850i xDrive Gran Coupe: $109,895
- M8 Gran Coupe: $130,995
- M8 Competition Gran Coupe: 143,995
What are its safety equipment and crash ratings?
Every 2020 BMW 8 Series comes standard with a suite of safety equipment, but even more driver assistance tech options are available. For no extra cost, buyers will get automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning, blind-spot warning, front and rear parking sensors, lane departure warning and automatic high beams. Pony up for the expensive options, and BMW throws in adaptive cruise control (with stop-and-go functionality), lane-keeping assist with auto lane-changing functionality, side collision avoidance and a new Active Driving Assistant Pro. This assistant lets you take your hands off the wheel in slower traffic, and is even able to detect some health emergencies and bring the vehicle to a stop.
As of this article’s publishing, the new 8 Series has not been tested by a third party.