BMW promised us a more potent version of the 8 Series, but in fact we’re getting four: the 2020 BMW M8 Coupe and the M8 Convertible, in both regular and 617 horsepower Competition form. Making their debut this week, the fiercest iterations of BMW’s striking grand tourer promise “near-supercar” performance but without sacrificing on comfort.
BMW previewed the M8 two years ago, initially in the form of the race car version. Since then, the M8 GTE has gone on to hold up nicely in various global races, though in the process doing nothing to help impatient would-be owners from getting their hands on a production version.
Now, however, that’s all about to change. There’ll be four configurations of the car: the 2020 M8 Coupe, the 2020 M8 Convertible, the 2020 M8 Competition Coupe, and the 2020 M8 Competition Convertible. All will use a 4.4-liter S63 M TwinPower Turbo V8 engine.
For the regular M8, that will be tuned for 600 horsepower at 6,000 rpm, and 553 lb-ft of torque between 1,800 and 5,700 rpm. The M8 Competition, meanwhile, will crank the horsepower number up to 617 hp, while slightly extending the top end of the peak torque band to 5,860 rpm. Top speed is electronically limited to 155 mph, but can be extended to 189 mph with the M Driver’s Package.
In the M8 Coupe, 0-60 mph comes in 3.1 seconds; the M8 Competition Coupe trims that to 3.0 seconds. The M8 Convertible takes 3.2 seconds, while the M8 Competition Convertible does it in 3.1 seconds.
The V8 is paired with an eight-speed M Steptronic transmission and M xDrive all-wheel drive. There’ll be driver-selectable shift modes, spanning comfort through to sport and track, and the gearbox can take the upcoming route into account as it upshifts and downshifts. That way, BMW suggests, the transmission will avoid unnecessary gear changes if, for instance, there are two corners coming up in rapid succession.
Though AWD, the cars are rear-biased. A transfer case uses an electronically-controlled multi-plate clutch shift torque front to rear, with an Active M differential at the back to push power left and right. The front wheels only get torque when the rears are about to lose traction, making for a more RWD-esque driving feeling and, BMW points out, cutting down the number of times that the stability control will need to kick in.
Several AWD modes are available to choose between. In 4WD, for example, the goal is maximum traction; 4WD Sport pushes more power to the rear. Turn off the DSXC, meanwhile, and 2WD mode is unlocked.
Double-wishbone front and five-link rear suspension pair with Adaptive M Suspension as standard; that uses individual damper adjustments to suit both road and track driving. The behavior can be tweaked depending on the current drive mode, up to Sport Plus. Competition cars get firmer suspension settings, stiffer engine mounts, better cornering through increased front negative camber, and rear toe-link ball-joints – in place of the standard rubber bushings – to make the rear wheel tracking more precise.
All cars get electromechanical M Servotronic steering, with a variable steering ratio. As per the other systems, the steering response adjusts depending on drive mode. Brake by wire is used, and there are standard M compound brakes and optional carbon ceramic versions.
Since that’s a lot of different tasks taken on by the drive mode system, BMW has added a single Setup button on the dashboard of the M8. Hit that, and it pulls up a screen to adjust engine, suspension, steering, braking, and AWD settings all in one place. An M Mode button, meanwhile, does something similar for the driver-assistance, cluster display, and head-up display settings: the M8 gets Road and Sport settings, while the M8 Competition add a Track setting.
Outside, the M8 get larger cooling openings and black chrome vents, compared to the regular 8 Series. Icon Adaptive LED headlamps with Laserlight are standard, and the M8 Coupe and Competition Coupe gets a carbon fiber roof. The Convertible versions have a fabric top, which can retract in 15 seconds at speeds up to 30 mph. An optional M Carbon package replaces the standard exterior trim with carbon fiber instead.
Step inside, and there’s the familiar M1 and M2 preset buttons first seen on the M5 on the leather steering wheel. The shift lever has been redesigned, and there are special M Sport seats; the M8 Competition models throw in M seatbelts too. Carbon fiber interior trim is standard, though there are different wood options to choose from too, as are various leather packages.
Options include various driver assistance packages, which have adaptive cruise control, traffic jam assistance, lane departure warnings and blind spot detection, and more. The BMW Live Cockpit Professional – with a 12.3-inch instrument cluster display and a 10.25-inch center touchscreen – is standard, with navigation and gesture control. Wireless charging and a WiFi hotspot are standard, too.
BMW says production will kick off in July 2019. The 2020 M8 Coupe will be $133,000, while the 2020 M8 Convertible will be $142,500. The 2020 M8 Competition Coupe will be $146,000, meanwhile, and the 2020 M8 Competition Convertible will be $155,500. Destination on all four will be $995.