Fastest. BMW. Ever.
If those three words don’t spark interest, it might be wise to check that you still have a pulse. Or perhaps just click through to another story – there’s nothing to see here.
Let me tell you about the new BMW M8 Competition.
It is the German maker’s latest, most powerful and most glamorous model, and a new flagship for the Bavarian brand.
A car that dwarfs, in virtually every way, every other vehicle ever produced by this proud, performance-focused marque, such is its performance, indulgence and presence.
It is very large, measuring 4.93m, which is almost as long as most big luxury sedans. And it’s powerful. Its twin turbocharged V8 delivers a staggering 460 kilowatts. It costs $359,000 before any extras boxes are ticked, or registration fees and other government charges are added.
It is a car very few of us will own. BMW expects to sell only a dozen or so in Australia every year. But it’s quite the indulgence if you happen to be among those special few.
Indulgence? Well, for that massive spend, you get a car that allows you to use its full capability for just three seconds at a time before you start breaking local speed laws. Officially, the M8 Competition will cover the 0-100km/h sprint in a blinding 3.2 seconds, although BMW secretly claims to have tested it at 2.9 seconds.
Does it matter? Well, yes.
There’s the bragging factor.
You see, I have a good friend who, much to his delight and my envy, drives an AMG GT-S, Mercedes-Benz’s amazingly wide, sleek, purpose-built rocketship and the arch-rival of this BMW.
The AMG covers that same 100km/h sprint in 3.8 seconds and is a truly wondrous thing. But the M8 would absolutely eat it for breakfast – reaching the speed limit about 25 per cent quicker than the Benz.
Not that I mentioned this to my friend. Much.
You can count on one hand the number of cars capable of such acceleration. So yes, those three seconds matter very much. Even if you will rarely, if ever, explore this car’s full performance.
This uber-Beemer has other things, too, that you’ll pay for but rarely use.
The rear seats for instance. Because while two people can luxuriate in the front seats with plush leather, heated and ventilated and adjustable to the nth degree, those in the back need to perform a version of Bikram yoga just to enter. Unless they are three years old.
In line with its BMW “M” status, the M8 has all manner of buttons that will allow you to make the M8 go faster, sound louder, ride more firmly and stop more quickly, few of which you’ll ever use either. That’s because there are two red “M” buttons on the steering wheel which do all of these things for you, in your desired combination, with one push.
Based, as it is, on BMW’s 8-Series coupe and convertible range, this is as much a luxury car as it is a ballistic device. Even the most basic 8-Series is a fast thing.
So why buy this one, for almost double the price?
For a big car, even one with such weight-saving features as a carbon fibre roof and all manner of alloy and carbon bibs and bobs, it is impressively nimble and light on its feet. Steering is direct and quite pointy thanks to the X-Drive all-wheel-drive system that banishes just about any wheelspin or breaking of traction.
The performance is simply epic.
The numbers – 460kW, 700Nm – are gaudy enough but it feels even faster than those suggest. I’ve driven some fast cars but this one feels almost alarming – at least for a second or two – as it hurtles you towards the horizon, those eight wondrous cylinders and two turbochargers doing their work with a fabulous melody.
It’s not perfect, or at least it does have its irritations. Those cosy rear seats, for instance, which sort of make you wonder where all of the space has gone from such a big car. Then you sink into those beautifully-sculpted front sports seats, hunker deep down inside those high flanks and forget about almost everything else.
It does boast a very decent boot, one that could swallow up perhaps two sets of golf clubs.
Every finish is harmonious and very expensive looking.
The seats are clad in Merino leather, the dashboard in a different type of hide (called Walknappa, if you must know).
There are soft-close doors and a powered bootlid, not to mention the internal heating in the steering wheel and the armrests.
The audio is almost, but not quite, as wonderful as the exhaust note. And there are massive screens, the size of a decent TV, to keep you up to date with all the relevant info.
Would I buy one? Would I ever (finances aside). But then again I might be more likely to buy an M5 sedan, which is more practical but almost as fast, for $100,000 less.
Then again, maybe not.
BMW M8 COMPETITION
* HOW BIG? Massive, not that you’d notice once you start driving.
* HOW FAST? Phenomenally. Even Porsche doesn’t make many cars as fast as this.
* HOW THIRSTY? Official combined figure is 10.4L/100km. During the test drive, it averaged roughly double that amount.
* HOW MUCH? Don’t expect change from $400-grand. Or more, if you tick some of the extras boxes (like the $16,000 carbon brakes). Hey, it’s only money.