PORTIMÃO, Portugal — After politely asking if I can switch my BMW M8 Competition Coupe to drift mode, the pit crew worker responds with a quick “No." Come to think of it, choosing to send 617 horsepower to only the rear wheels on a damp racetrack with off-camber corners and blind crests does sound like the etching on a Darwin Award. All-wheel drive it is. The sheer fact I had such a choice speaks to the 2020 BMW M8 Competition Coupe and Convertible being rolling exercises in customizability. The choice of how many wheels you want driven is just one of myriad options. Drive mode settings are so copious that the steering wheel is flanked with twin M1 and M2 buttons finished in flashy crimson to summon driver presets on the fly. A slew of engine, chassis, steering, brake, and all-wheel-drive power distribution settings are managed via the 10.25-inch infotainment system. Also present are buttons on the center console to switch into M Dynamic mode, which manipulates the all-wheel drive and e-differential to allow the car to enter “controlled drifts,” though the Bavarian manufacturer never directly refers to it as drift mode. The M8 expands upon the M850i’s already formidable performance arsenal with a series of upgrades intended to take it to the next level. It has the most powerful series production M car engine yet, a twin-turbocharged, twin-scroll 4.4-liter V8 that pumps out an even 600 hp in standard M8 trim, or 617 hp with the $13,000 M8 Competition Coupe package. Torque is an identical 553 pound-feet for both models, though the peak lasts an extra 160 rpm in the Competition. That base output is 77 hp more than the M850i (torque reaches the same peak but does so 1,100 rpm sooner) and a stunning 265 hp more than the 840i. Besides its extra output, the Competition package adds stiffer engine mounts, increased front suspension camber, and ball joints instead of rubber at the rear for greater body control. Other improvements compared to non-M models include beefier engine cooling, stiffer and completely revised body structure and suspension components. BMW says the coupe will go from zero to 60 mph in 3.1 seconds, with the Competition shaving a tenth off for an even 3 seconds. The Convertible drops those times to 3.2 and 3.1 seconds, respectively. My day started in an M8 Competition Convertible ($143,495), covering the deliciously sinuous route from the Conrad Algarve hotel to the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve — commonly known as Portimão. There’s one word that invariably springs to mind when I climb into most modern M cars: Beefy. The word is usually triggered by BMW’s girthier-than-average steering wheel diameter and the cockpit’s prevailing mood of stark masculinity. A premium, substantially finished feel prevails throughout the cabin, which is well insulated from the elements due to a thick, multi-layer soft top. Lowering it takes 15 seconds and can be done up to 31 mph, while a wind deflector that can be plugged into the back seat (and …
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|MPG||15 City / 21 Hwy|
|Power||600 @ 6000 rpm|
|Drivetrain||M xDrive all wheel|
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