2020 BMW M8 Gran Coupe Review - For the Fun CEO

Tim Healey
by Tim Healey
Fast Facts

2020 BMW M8 Gran Coupe Fast Facts

4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8 (600 hp @ 6,000 rpm, 553 lb-ft @ 1,800-5,600 rpm)
Eight-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
15 city / 21 highway / 17 combined (EPA Estimated Rating, MPG)
16.0 city, 11.0 highway, 13.8 combined (NRCan Rating, L/100km)
Base Price
$130,000 (U.S) / $151,274.73 (Canada)
As Tested
$154,295 (U.S.) / $170,754.53 (Canada)
Prices include $995 destination charge in the United States and $2,580 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can't be directly compared.

There are certain flagship luxury cars that suggest the driver has “made it” – assuming “making it” means climbing the corporate ladder to the point that owning and driving a large, imported luxury sedan with a six-figure price tag is no sweat, financially speaking.

The Lexus LS, BMW 7 Series and 8 Series, and Mercedes-Benz S-Class have typically been the cars most people think of when the phrase “flagship luxury sedan” is spoken. And rightfully so – those are all worthy vehicles. But sometimes, the boss likes to cut loose.

Which is why the LS has an F Sport trim, and Merc has an AMG S-Class, and so on. As you no doubt know, “M” is the magic letter when it comes to BMWs.

Because words don’t seem to matter to marketing departments anymore, the M8 Gran Coupe is not a coupe, not in the way that coupes are traditionally thought of. “Coupe” used to mean two doors, but not anymore, and BMW isn’t the only offender. This car, like other “coupes” on the road, is actually a four-door. Normally, we’d call it a “sedan.”

(Get BMW M8 pricing here!)

Thankfully, it’s easy to forgive BMW its misadventures in marketing and its willful disregard of the English language, all because the M8 is so sublime.

Six hundred horsepower certainly helps, but this isn’t just (say in Mongo voice) “car good because car go fast.” In fact, the M8’s beauty is in its balance.

Driven softly, and the 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8 — which puts out 600 ponies and 553 lb-ft of torque — is a gentle giant, merely hinting at what lies beneath, should it be provoked. The exhaust burbles in the background, insinuating what the car is capable of, should the throttle be opened wide enough. Selecting the correct drive mode will crank up the volume on the lovely tailpipe symphony, with your right foot serving as maestro. You can also control the exhaust’s volume via interior button.

Sport and Sport + modes are the fun modes here, giving the car a more aggressive character, and you can even dial up a setting that turns the all-wheel-drive M8 into a rear-wheel drive car. An M mode lets you customize settings.

Selecting Sport mode gives the driver the option to turn off or adjust certain assist systems and tightens up suspension and steering responses; it also changes up the cockpit displays, including the head-up display. Sport + is for the track, Sport for the winding country road. I dialed Sport mode up as much as I could.

A double-wishbone front suspension and five-link rear suspension underpin the M8, with strut tie bars employed to help combat torque steer. The steering is speed-sensitive, variable-ratio, and electromechanical.

Any performance car needs stout brakes to pair with its grippy rubber, and the M8 boasts drilled and ventilated brake rotors, front and rear – 395 mm in front, 380 out back. Available carbon-ceramic brakes are 400 mm at the front. Front calipers are fixed and have six pistons, while the rear calipers are floating, with a single piston. The brake-by-wire system can give different pedal feedback and response in Sport mode.

The rubber mounts to 20-inch wheels, with 275-wide tires up front and 285 mms in back. Best hope you don’t run over a nail – these 35 profile tires are not run flat.

All told, it’s a potent package. This is a car that’s quite content to cruise on the freeway, but you can turn Dr. Jekyll into Mr. Hyde quite easily, whether you’re taking a detour on a curvy back road or merely dropping the hammer to pass some pokey highway cruisers. It’s a hell of a lot of fun, but never at the sacrifice of luxury.

It sounds great, it’s fast, it handles well, and the only real trade-off is that even in comfort mode, the ride can be a tad stiff (although comfort and normal modes do mitigate most pavement imperfections well enough). It also looks just like a BMW is supposed to these days.

The twin-kidney grille is smushed a bit, more horizontal than vertical, but the car’s pedigree remains unmistakably Bimmer. Creases in the hood hint at the engine’s capabilities, and the sloping roofline gives BMW some cover to use the term “coupe”, while also cutting into rear headroom a tad. Just a tad, though: I got my six-foot tall frame into the rear for the photo shoot without any noticeable discomfort. The number is 37.1 inches, for those curious, and it’s a 3.5-inch increase over a two-door BMW 8, although a skoosh less than the AMG S63 sedan.

It’s a mostly handsome machine, although a bulbous booty makes the car look a bit squat when viewed from the rear. At least the quad exhaust tips and decklid spoiler show passers-by what the car is all about.

Inside, you get the usual BMW techno look, with the center infotainment screen rising above the center stack in a way that looks only halfway integrated. The once much-maligned iDrive system continues to become easier to use, and most controls are laid out logically enough. Quietness and comfort are as to be expected from a luxury car of this price, even one with a performance bent. That means the M8 keeps outside noise at bay and the seats are all-day comfortable.

None of this comes cheap. Getting in the door alone costs $130K. BMW didn’t have a Monroney handy on this one, but based on the online configurator, the options list added up to around $20K. That includes $1,950 for the brown paint, $3,500 for the interior leather, $1,100 for the Driving Assist Package (lane-departure warning, blind-spot detection, drive recorder, park assist, park distance control), $1,700 for the Driving Assistance Professional package (Active Driving Assistant pro, traffic-jam assist), $850 for Comfort Seating (heated front and rear seats, heated steering wheel, sunshades), $2,300 for night vision with pedestrian detection, $5,400 for M Carbon exterior package, $3,400 for Bower&Wilkins Diamond Surround Sound audio system, and $8,150 for the carbon-ceramic brakes. Upholstery-color Alcantara headlining is a no-cost option, and owners can spend $2,500 for the M Driver’s Package (a day with your car at a BMW high-performance driving experience).

As-tested, with fees (including the gas-guzzler tax): $154,295. That gas-guzzler tax is well earned, thanks to a 15 mpg city/21 mg highway/17 mpg combined rating from the EPA. I did not have an opportunity to measure observed fuel economy.

It’s always hard for those of us without deep, deep pockets to look at a car priced well into six-figure territory and justify the cost. I mean, a dwelling can cost less.

Yet, many of these cars manage to feel worth it, either in terms of luxury, sport, or both. This is one of those cars.

It’s a balanced package that allows for easy commuting while also offering ferocious performance. And it mostly blends – I didn’t notice much extra attention being paid to me while testing, even accounting for the pandemic reducing the amount of people who were out and about.

If you’re a CEO who’s successful enough to afford this kind of automobile, and you want to avoid the stares of the hoi polloi and have a smooth ride to work when you aren’t smoking tires, your ride is here.

[Images © 2020 Tim Healey/TTAC]

Tim Healey
Tim Healey

Tim Healey grew up around the auto-parts business and has always had a love for cars — his parents joke his first word was “‘Vette”. Despite this, he wanted to pursue a career in sports writing but he ended up falling semi-accidentally into the automotive-journalism industry, first at Consumer Guide Automotive and later at Web2Carz.com. He also worked as an industry analyst at Mintel Group and freelanced for About.com, CarFax, Vehix.com, High Gear Media, Torque News, FutureCar.com, Cars.com, among others, and of course Vertical Scope sites such as AutoGuide.com, Off-Road.com, and HybridCars.com. He’s an urbanite and as such, doesn’t need a daily driver, but if he had one, it would be compact, sporty, and have a manual transmission.

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2 of 29 comments
  • VoGhost Key phrase: "The EV market has grown." Yup, EV sales are up yet again, contrary to what nearly every article on the topic has been claiming. It's almost as if the press gets 30% of ad revenues from oil companies and legacy ICE OEMs.
  • Leonard Ostrander Daniel J, you are making the assertion. It's up to you to produce the evidence.
  • VoGhost I remember all those years when the brilliant TTAC commenters told me over and over how easy it was for legacy automakers to switch to making EVs, and that Tesla was due to be crushed by them in just a few months.
  • D "smaller vehicles" - sorry, that's way too much common sense! Americans won't go along because clever marketing convinced us our egos need big@ss trucks, which give auto manufacturers the profit margin they want, and everybody feels vulnerable now unless they too have a huge vehicle. Lower speed limits could help, but no politician wants to push that losing policy. We'll just go on building more lanes and driving faster and faster behind our vehicle's tinted privacy glass. Visions of Slim Pickens riding a big black jacked up truck out of a B-52.
  • NotMyCircusNotMyMonkeys dudes off the rails on drugs and full of hate and retribution. so is musky.