After a 20-year absence, BMW has finally summoned up the courage to re-enter the super-luxury coupé market – this time taking special care to avoid mistakes made with the handsome but rather portly 8 Series of the 1990s.
As before, the mission brief was suitably ambitious. BMW wanted to combine the comfort and luxury of a premium GT with sports car handling in a bid to create a car with a broader breadth of abilities than any of its rivals. A tall order, and almost an insurmountable challenge for some car makers, but BMW is not just any manufacturer. It already has decades of experience building ultra-fast luxury cars in the form of the BMW M5 and M6, and isn’t afraid to turn its hand to a sports car, either. That gave the 8 Series engineers a considerable head start when it came to development.
Using BMW’s innovative ‘Cluster Architecture’, which combines high-strength steel, aluminium, magnesium and carbonfibre-reinforced plastic, BMW has managed to produce a rather svelte luxury GT; the range-topping M850i is a whole 100kg lighter than the equivalent Mercedes S-Class Coupe and a whopping 350kg lighter than a Bentley Continental GT.
The ‘entry-level’ 840d makes use of BMW’s tried and tested turbocharged 3.0-litre straight six diesel engine with 316bhp, while the range-topping M850i gets a redeveloped version of the M5’s 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 with 523bhp and a whopping 553lb ft of torque. A cheaper six-cylinder turbo petrol 840i will be available next year, with a full-fat BMW M8 as a tantalising prospect for the future. All will employ BMW’s impressive xDrive four-wheel drive system.
Over the next few pages, we’ll tell you what the 840d and M850i are like to drive and if you should consider one over the usual GT car suspects. And remember, if you decide to buy a luxury coupé after reading our review, head over to our New Car Buying page to find out how much you could save.
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