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May 26, 2020

Latest BMW 8 Series Convertible Driving Test Review

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The all-new BMW 8 Series appeared in its coupe avatar in the middle of 2018, and a few months down the line it is time for the family to grow. BMW has used the 8 Series name in the 1980s and 90s, but this cannot really be called a successor to that car. Still, if you want to, call it a second generation! The 8 Series convertible has also since arrived, and a 4-door Gran Coupe body style will complete the family when it gets here by mid-2019.

The new 8 Series is nearly identical to the 6 Series in dimensions, but is tad wider and shorter in height & length

But let’s stay focussed on the new 8 Series convertible shall we? The 8 Series effectively replaces the previous 6 Series family, but is being positioned as more premium and sporty. This is largely true, as you shall find out. The car is 4851 mm long, with a 2822 mm wheelbase, 1902 mm wide and 1345 mm high. That makes it near identical in dimensions to the previous 6 Series convertible. It’s a tad wider, but is shorter in height and length, as well as wheelbase. But it is obviously more luxurious and better appointed. And looks sexier too.

The grille is large and looks menacing while the headlamps are the slimmest in BMW’s line-up

The car looks great to be honest. Low slung form, great proportions, and rather obvious width –  especially in how the rear end has been styled. The hood and flanks are very muscular, and there are a couple of prominent character lines that emphasise its length, along the side. The grille is a bit large and wide, yet very well executed and kind of menacing. The headlights are the slimmest in BMW’s line-up, and can be upgraded to Laser light tech if you pay more. 

Material quality, equipment and yes even the gadgets are a step up for sure. Virtual cluster, head up display, bigger touchscreen with the latest iDrive 7.0 and the latest in connectivity and sound systems. Harmon Kardion is standard; Bowers & Wilkins diamond surround is an option. The convertible does not have gesture control (the hard tops have it), but does get the BMW personal assistant voice-controlled functionality.  The start stop button, gear shifter and iDrive controller are finished in crystal glass like we saw on the X5 and X7. But this is the first non-X model to get what BMW calls ‘crafted clarity’. The dash and door panels are all wrapped in leather. The car certainly exudes quality and class.

The wind deflector can be manually popped on or off over the rear seats, while roof folds up or down in just 15 seconds

There is a wind deflector that comes standard which can be manually popped on or off over the rear seats. The roof folds up or down in just 15 seconds, and can be operated at up to 50 kmph. The previous 6 convertible did it in 19 seconds and up to 40 kmph for what it’s worth.

While the car is not then a 7 series based model, it does share its drivetrains. The M850i xDrive has the 520 bhp V8 petrol and the 3-litre, 314 bhp in-line six diesel that powers the 840d xDrive. Now BMW could bring us the convertible as a direct import in really small numbers. But you know what? It would also have to import in the wonderful clean air and the beautiful blue sky I’ve been lucky to have on my drive! That is why it is going to be the hard top that comes to us, and more likely not the coupe, but the Gran Coupe.

Yes it is likely we will only get the 8 Series Gran Coupe. But that car will only be revealed around June or July this year. So you might wonder why I am testing the convertible then? Well, three reasons why. First, because the engines we get will be shared across body styles, and so will be the same. Second. It is a chance to see where BMW has taken the 8 Series family, after all we never did drive the coupe as yet. And third – even though we may get a different body style, a lot of the dynamics, performance and design elements will be similar, so it will still give us a good idea on what to expect. Satisfied? Then read on!

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