Engine4.4L Twin-Turbo V8
Power523 HP / 553 LB-FT
0-60 Time3.7 Seconds
Top Speed155 MPH
Curb Weight4,758 LBS
Seating2 + 3
The 2020 BMW M850i xDrive Gran Coupe is a mouthful, but it’s a splendid one at that. There are numerous versions and variations of the new 8 Series, and this one is the biggest and nearly the most powerful. Only the big-M M8 Gran Coupe can top this one’s 523 horsepower.
That copious amount of power is thanks to BMW’s 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8, which is responsible for the addicting 553 pound-feet of torque being sent to all four-wheels. The ZF eight-speed automatic transmission handles shifting duties with ease. This powertrain manages to shoot the heavy BMW sedan to 60 mph in only 3.7 seconds and on to a top speed of 155 mph. One step on the right pedal tells us that this car is at home on Germany’s autobahn. Since it’s the M850i, we also get an adaptive sport suspension that’s adjustable via the mode switcher. A bevy of drive characteristics change when you swap through the modes, but the M8 offers even more customization. A wide swath of screens join sumptuous leather and typical BMW design inside.
None of this 8 Series luxury and performance comes cheap, though. The base price of $109,895 expands quickly, even in BMW’s best. Our tester has plenty of extras including the Bowers and Wilkins audio system ($3,400), full leather seats ($2,000), Driving Assistance Package ($1,100), Driving Assistance Professional Package ($1,700) and Glass Controls ($650). That and more led us to the $120,675 asking price on our car’s sticker.
Senior Editor, Green, John Beltz Snyder: My drive home in the Gran Coupe was mostly dreary, but the Driving Assistant Plus tech — which goes so far as to let you take your hands off the wheel at low speeds in certain conditions — made the stop-and-go expressway traffic more tolerable. I had a good audiobook, anyway, and after much fiddling, I found some comfortable seat settings. It wasn’t until the last few miles of my journey home that I got to taste some of the M850i’s sweetness, the biggest treat being the exhaust coming to life under open throttle.
The following morning, I had a clear path in front of me almost the entire drive in. I found the Sport mode to be tuned well, maintaining the sonic ecstasy with quick, well timed shifts. It keeps the engine in a sweet spot of the rev range, playing a concert of smooth growls and snappy puffs from the exhaust. I’m not always one to opt for the more powerful engine, but this 4.4-liter turbo V8 feels like a more immediately convincing fit for this car than the 3.0-liter turbo inline-six in the 840i.
I was glad for the all-wheel drive and winter tires. With temperatures hovering right around the freezing point, there was plenty of melt, and more snow coming down. I still felt like I had plenty of lateral grip, and the car behaved itself when applying (lots of) power through a turn. Its surefootedness went a long way toward creating confidence when the roads were less than ideal, and when I got to the better maintained freeway, there was nothing to trouble me for some high-speed cruising.
Associated Editor Byron Hurd: I didn't get a ton of time with the M850i, but what little I got, I thoroughly enjoyed. This car has a lot of character (especially for a BMW; they're often kind of sterile), and a lot of that is owed to that fantastic V8.
That said, I actually enjoyed driving the 840i we had a few weeks ago just a bit better. It's lighter and nimbler, and feels more like a sports coupe than the large tourer that it really is. As fun as the M850i is, especially when you get the burbles and crackles from the exhaust during deceleration, it doesn't drive nearly as small as the 840i.
It's funny; when I was in the 840i, I was certain it needed the M850i's V8. Now? Not so convinced. Great noises, though.
Road Test Editor Zac Palmer: This car is pin-you-to-your-seat quick. Driving on roads with speed limits below 70 mph is just a shame, because this huge sedan gets hustling so quickly that the fun is over in the blink of an eye. In black paint and four-door Gran Coupe form, it’s a sleeper, too.
Despite being able to roast most muscle cars and plenty of sports cars from a traffic light with that uber-smooth V8, the M850i Gran Coupe is still a comfortable grand tourer at heart. Its ride is positively sublime over rough pavement, and like John said, its semi-autonomous features are wonderful highway companions. Even when I turn everything up to “Sport Plus” in BMW’s mode selector, this M850i never goes full M. It’s not as stiff or agile as an LC 500, and the brakes are a bit too mushy in spirited driving. There’s no hiding the car’s largeness on the road, and try as it might, the 4,758-pound curb weight is too much to make up for in tight corners, as the lack of sharpness and body control shines through. It’ll require a step up to the M8 or M8 Competition to see what this chassis is capable of with everything turned up to 11.
In addition to the addictive straight line speed, I absolutely adore the interior. Ours had bright orange leather and the Glass Controls option box checked. The design is relatively standard for new BMWs, but it’s a great look. All the materials have a high quality and expensive feel to them, and the infotainment system flies through settings and menus without a hitch. I didn’t even have any Apple CarPlay connection issues like other BMWs have plagued us with. If the new 7 Series grille repulses you, and you want a large, quick BMW sedan, this is the one to get.
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