Jaco Van Der Merwe

By Jaco Van Der Merwe

Head of Motoring

BMW 840d: Unassuming, but this 8 is still great

Don’t scoff at this ride because there is no M in its title.

When BMW reintroduced the 8 Series locally last year, the German carmaker went straight for the jugular by showcasing the impressive M850i Gran Coupe, the range’s flagship at the time.

The M850i Gran Coupe was flanked by two siblings in the form of the Convertible and Coupe, while the big daddy in the shape of the M8 Competition joined the testosterone fest this year. But somewhere in this plethora of M models, poor man’s 8 Series models also found their way into our market, not that a description like that is entirely accurate in a line-up which starts just north of one and half bar. The “entry level” 840i joined the family in Gran Coupe guise along with the 8 Series’ only oil-burner, the 840d Gran Coupe.

After spending time behind the wheel of most of the 8 Series’ M models, we recently had the opportunity to get to know the 840d a bit better. And for starters, don’t be lured into the false belief that the absence of an M in the title makes this car any less worthy of the grandiose presence a BMW 8 Series stands for. There is no denying that its striking looks can have anyone guessing where it fits into the carmaker’s model hierarchy.

Judged purely on paper, the first mistake you shouldn’t make is scoff at the 235 kW of power the 3.0-litre straight-six turbocharged powerplant produces. It might pale in comparison to the respective outputs of 390 kW and 440 kW delivered by the 4.4-litre V8 petrol engine in the M850i and M8 Competition. The 840d delivers a massive amount of torque – 680 Nm to be exact – available at 1 750rpm, which contributes to very healthy acceleration with the help of the supersmooth eight-speed Sport Steptronic transmission.

To handle the heaps of torque, all the 840d models feature all-wheel-drive similar to their M siblings, whereas the 840i models – which 3.0-litre straight six petrol engine produces 250kW/500Nm – are rear-wheel drive. And while the 840d’s overall performance might not seem as beastly as it’s M siblings on paper, it goes about its business superbly well.

Claimed to reach 100km/h from a standstill in 5.1 sec, you’ll win most duels at the green light, while that torque does a superb job during overtaking on the open road. And like has become the norm with all the tech on offer in modern vehicles, it handles ridiculously easy for such a big car weighing in at two tonnes. Steering is easy and the 245/40 rubberware at the front and 275/35 at the rear sticks to the tarmac like glue.

While all of this is taking place, the driver and passengers are travelling in extreme comfort with oodles of space and style to boot. Leg and headroom are plentiful in the rear, while there is healthy 440-litres of boot space on offer. The safety features along with the connectivity and infotainment system includes everything you would come to expect from a car of this stature.

Despite our fuel consumption of 12.1L/100 km achieved over the course of 423 km is almost double what BMW claims the 840d is capable of, we still think that number is very decent for a car this size. We also have to admit that we made no attempt to go easy on our rain forests during the four days we spent with the car.

R1 633 278 is a lot of money by anyone’s standards, but then again the 840d is a lot of car by anyone’s standards. Even with the absence of an M in its title.

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