Think of the ‘20 BMW M8: SUNSHINE SUPERSTAR as a 600-horsepower tanning bed, writes Road Test Editor Howard Walker.
Trust me, you don’t need a BMW M8 Convertible. You don’t need its 600 hellacious horsepower, or its ability to carve curves like Dale Jr. at Daytona. And while its ease at catapulting you from standstill to 60 mph in, gulp, three seconds may seem a great way of social distancing, it’ll make no difference in a Starbucks drive-thru!
But, but, if you have $145,000 searing a hole in your chinos, and you’re craving one of the world’s finest high-speed tanning beds, this is your car. I guess my biggest issue with this new flagship M8 is that its M850i sibling is so spectacularly good, so insanely fast, such an immense joy to drive. Yet, a non-trivial $21,100 less pricey.
OK, the 850 packs 523 horseys compared to the M8’s nice round 600. But both cars come with the same 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 nuclear reactor under that bulging hood, the same 8-speed mouse-trap-fast automatic, and the same brilliant top that drops in a mere 15 seconds. That said, if you crave even more bang for your buck, the M8 Competition Convertible packs 617 horseys and an even greater track focus for an added $20,250.
But think of the M8 as the scoop of ice cream on your apple pie; the lobster tail with your Filet Mignon; your upgrade from business to first, if you remember what that is. Of course there’s a more simplistic argument here; if you’re splurging $145-grand on an M850i, why not fritter an extra 20 to attain automotive perfection?
Four little words: You. Won’t. Regret. It.
I love this car. Love its sheer magnificence as a Grand Tourer. Love its heft, and bulk, and visual promise of testosterone-infused performance. See this thing on the street, especially in our test car’s spectacular shade of molten metallic red, and your jaw is guaranteed to drop. What’s impressive here is that despite its BMW ‘M-for-Motorsport’ parentage, the M8 doesn’t scream about its near-supercar levels of performance. There are no ridiculous look-at-me wings, or bloated fenders. No oversized rims – mere 20s come standard. No silly ‘turbo’ badges on the tail. Here is refined, muscular elegance. I’m channeling Jason Statham in a tux!
The keen-eyed enthusiast will no doubt notice the bigger, air-gulping intakes at the front, the Jay Leno-sized chin spoiler, and those lovely vertical openings behind the front wheels. And as the M8 rockets past, you just might spy the quartet of shiny, Howitzer-sized exhausts sprouting from the rear diffuser. You’ll certainly hear them.
I guess what I love most about this new M8 is its dual, Jekyll and Hyde, character. Drop the top, and you can cruise to the beach, or lunch, or dinner, with a trio of friends. OK, rear seat legroom is tight, but doable for short trips. And for cruising like this, the BMW is always serene and silky-smooth, svelte and easy riding. Crank-up a little Buffett on the standard Harmon Kardon sound system and all will be well with the world.
But then, in the back of your head, there’s always the knowledge that the diabolical Mr. Hyde is just a squeeze of the right pedal away. There simply aren’t enough superlatives in Webster’s to describe the gut-punch you feel as the big V8 delivers its mighty 553 pound-feet of thrust. Rocketing away from a stoplight, blasting out of an Interstate on-ramp, thundering past slower traffic; this is an e-ticket thrill-ride you can park in your garage. It’s not just a straight-line thunderbolt either. Aim the M8’s kidney-grilled nose at a snaking back road – better still a racetrack – and it feels as if each of those sculpted alloys is running on invisible rails.
With standard all-wheel drive enhanced by BMW’s mind-reading Active M differential, laser-precise steering, and an army of electronic stability aids, the M8 can change direction quicker than a spooked gecko!
And you can enjoy it all from the supreme comfort of the M8’s exquisite cabin. Talk about diamond-quilted leather, satin-finish metal trim and peerless fit and finish; this interior just oozes quality and class. No, you don’t need an M8 Convertible. But one drive and you’re guaranteed to crave one.
For more information about the ‘20 BMW M8: SUNSHINE SUPERSTAR and the latest luxury-performance vehicles from BMW, please visit https://www.bmwusa.com/