Is this car good enough to carry the 8 Series badge?

It had pop-up lights and it’s now an appreciating classic, the original BMW 8 Series ran from 1990-1999, and I remember it well. Sleek, long bonnet, short rear deck, and packed with electronics and gadgetry that was frankly frightening in its day.

And to be fair, that’s what led to considerable depreciation for this otherwise sexy and highly desirable car, as technical complexity scared off a lot of potential used car owners. That’s changing fast as, along with the most popular 1990s models, it hits modern classic status and values start to increase.

Of course, after a nearly two-decade gap, the 8 Series badge has returned to the BMW range. A coupe was launched in 2018 as a successor to the 6 Series that ran from 2011-2018. The Six was offered as a coupe and convertible, and the range was later joined by a four-door dubbed the Gran Coupe. To my eyes it was a stunner, it’s streamlined elegance somehow even prettier than the coupe. Practicality was not greatly compromised, so it rather made the 5 Series, and for that matter the 7 Series, a bit redundant.

Has BMW has done it again? The four-door Gran Coupe version of the latest 8 Series was introduced just towards the end of last year and we had an opportunity to drive the 840i M Sport version – in fact that’s the entry-level car and it kicks off with the M Sport trim, because that’s what most BMW customers order in the UK anyway.

Prices start at £69,340 for the car we drove, with the 840d xDrive at £73,915 and the M850i xDrive at £97,720. That range-topper has a 530bhp V8 offering a 0-62mph acceleration time of 3.9 seconds, while the diesel has 320bhp and will achieved 62mph in a still impressive 5.1 seconds. Both are all-wheel drive and the top speed of all three is limited to 155mph.

The 840i petrol serves up 340bhp, but only sends power to the rear wheels via the same 8-speed paddleshift transmission as its brothers. Slightly less grip off the line is probably why acceleration to 62mph is 0.1 second slower than the diesel at 5.2.

There isn’t a vast difference when it comes to fuel economy between the two: the petrol achieves up to 38.2mpg whilst the diesel will return 45.6mpg – though that might be crucial if you do a lot of long-distance drives. CO2 emissions too are about the same at 168g/km for the petrol and 162g/km for the diesel. If you really must know, the 850 will manage up to 28.5mpg and puts out 229g/km.

The Gran Coupe is identical to the coupe up to the windscreen which is slightly more upright. It has a 201mm longer wheelbase to better accommodate the rear passengers (potentially three of them as BMW calls this a ‘4+1’) resulting in an overall length increase of 231mm – it’s just over 5m long. It’s 30mm wider at 1932mm and 61mm taller (1407), and at the rear the track increases by 28mm (the widest of any current BMW) which helps with that +1. However thanks to clever changes like a plastic boot lid, weight has only increase by 70kg.

It is of course packed with equipment and would never be anything less than high-specification with the quality leather upholstery, a ton of driver’s aids and clever features including a built-in dashcam that stores the last 20 seconds and of course BMW’s gesture control feature – where you twirl your finger at the dash to raise and lower the volume – plus a sat nav that warns of ‘dangerous bend’ ahead (which is really just challenge of sorts to some).

Because of the extra millimetres of space, sitting in the rear is no chore even for the tallest of passengers and it is, as you’d expect, a superbly cosseting environment. Upfront there is more opulence but combined with carefully judged usability, and that gorgeous cut-crystal style gear shift alone feels like it’s worth the entry price!

Get comfortable quickly, and put your foot down – this makes a hell of growl and the 5.2 seconds will feel like 2.5 as what appears to be luxury barge makes like a 3 Series and catapults at the horizon. It’s girth seems to narrow even on tight roads as you intuitively start to push it harder and harder – it’s what happens when you’re in a good BMW, and this definitely falls into that category.

Despite it’s astonishing attack mode body composure, it will equally do serene and refined, and whilst the steering might not quite have the eloquence of a M2, it is faithful and reassuring, as are the brakes.

There is very little to not like about this car, even in this ‘base’ form – which already offers more performance than you could ever use in the real world. Okay it’s pricey, but that’s not a surprise, and it could be a little nerve wracking squeezing it through inner city traffic (we only drove it on motorways and A- and B-roads).

Is it a worthy successor to the 6 Series Gran Coupe? Absolutely – and once again I’d certainly have this over a 5 or 7. Is it a worthy successor to the classic 8 Series? No. Why? It doesn’t have pop-up lights! Duh!!

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