The interior layout, fit and finish
The Gran Coupe is relatively understated inside. Its dashboard is more swooping than the angular designs found in the Audi A7 Sportback and Porsche Panamera, while being less flamboyant than that of the Mercedes CLS. The materials used are of very high quality, and it feels as solid as a mature oak. That’s not something you can confidently say about every element of the CLS.
The infotainment system is a masterpiece of integration and usability. BMW’s latest-generation iDrive betters its rivals’ systems by a mile in two important ways. Firstly, its menus are generally logical and very responsive; secondly, by sticking with a rotary controller and shortcut menu buttons (instead of the touchscreen-only interfaces that the Panamera and A7 Sportback employ), it’s far less distracting to operate on the move.
You can still use its 10.3in display as a touchscreen if it suits, or the optional gesture control feature instead. That enables you to turn up the stereo volume or answer a call, for example, with a flick of the wrist. But be warned: you might end up looking like a Harry Potter wannabe who’s lost his wand. There’s always BMW’s Intelligent Personal Assistant as another alternative; it’s like Amazon Alexa, except you shout out “Hey BMW” for a response. Apple CarPlay is standard, too, but you cannot get Android Auto.
As you’d expect, the 8 Series Gran Coupe’s driving position is tuneable to the nth degree. The steering wheel moves extensively and joins the comfortable driver’s seat in being electrically adjustable. The only omission is adjustable lumbar support, which is available only as part of the M Sport seat upgrade. Nothing feels out of kilter; the dashboard’s buttons are easy to see and reach, you get configurable digital dials and there’s a head-up display, which beams plenty of information into your sightline.
Visibility isn’t perfect, though. The front pillars are quite fat and tend to obscure your vision through tight corners (although its rivals aren't much better in this regard), while the rear screen is fairly shallow. Front and rear parking sensors are standard, though, as is a rear-view camera. You also get ultra-bright, adaptive LED headlights, or, if LEDs are a bit ‘last season’ for you, laser lights are an option.