AN 8 THAT'S GREAT (some text hidden)
By Jonathan Crouch
BMW's 8 Series Convertible is a big step forward from its predecessor, thinks Jonathan Crouch
Ten Second Reviewword count: 57
BMW's 8 Series Convertible is a properly desirable luxury GT cabrio that's more affordable both to buy and to run than its closest rivals, cabriolet versions of the Mercedes' S-Class and Porsche's 911. It may not be an out-and-out sports car, but it's the finest open-topped car of this kind that the Munich marque has yet made.
Backgroundword count: 191
If every BMW is still to be the 'Ultimate Driving Machine' promised by the advertising, then that slogan must mean many things. Sharp, rewarding handling for most is what this brand is all about but in some market segments, other virtues are just as important. Take up-market large luxury convertibles. Cars like Mercedes' S-Class Cabriolet and the Porsche 911 Cabriolet are all about Grand Touring - fast, stylish cruising, something BMW has more experience in providing than you might expect, with a product heritage in such cars stretching all the way back to the 327 Sports Convertible of the late Thirties. And all the way forward to this car, the 8 Series Convertible. This model's predecessor, the 6 series Convertible, was a relatively rare sight on British roads. Despite a hefty price tag, it offered performance, rear seat room and boot space all little better than a BMW 4 Series Convertible costing half as much. It was a car that sold on cachet - and that wasn't enough to tempt significant numbers of wealthy buyers from their Mercedes, Jaguar and Porsche models. This 8 Series model though, is a different proposition.
Driving Experienceword count: 313
At the end of a day spent in pursuit of the kind of business that makes possible the purchase of a car like this, you want to be rewarded on your route home by a gloriously emotive soundtrack when you fire the engine and nose out into the traffic. That's certainly delivered by the M850i version, along with an alfresco driving experience free, as you would expect, from all the roof-down buffeting and bodyshake that you'd get in a cheaper convertible. Which means that you'll be tempted to lower the roof more of the time, especially as it can be done in just 15s at speeds of up to 31mph. Raising it again cocoons you in a cabin almost as refined as you'd find in the alternative Coupe and four-door Gran Coupe models that BMW also offers in the 8 Series range. Unfortunately, the ride is somewhat firmer than some will want. And of course, it's fast. Even in the base 840d xDrive diesel variant, you've a 320hp in-line six cylinder petrol unit capable of sixty from rest in just 5.2s on the way to a top speed that would be well into the lock-you-up-and-throw-away-the-key area of licence confiscation were it not for a limiter that cuts in a 155mph. There's also a rear-driven 340hp petrol 840i sDrive variant. Otherwise, this car comes with a 4.4-litre twin turbo petrol V8, developing either 530hp in the M850i or a stonking 625hp in the top M8 Competition variant. All the powerplants on offer are torquey, with more than enough pulling power to make unnecessary as many as eight ratios in the ZF automatic gearbox. Use them and you can access performance that in the case of the M850i will catapult you to 62mph from rest in a Porsche-worrying 3.9s. The M8 Competition trims that to 3.3s. Toupees will need to be very firmly tied down.
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