Jaco Van Der Merwe

By Jaco Van Der Merwe

Head of Motoring

Meet the BMW’s new ambassador

The locking effect generated by an electric motor limits speed compensation between the inside and outside rear wheel when cornering, making it possible to power out of bends with eye-catching dynamic verve.

Let’s get one thing straight. The newly-launched BMW M850i is not the German brand’s bread-and-butter car.

Nor was it ever intended to be. Not at a shade under two bar. It is also not going to lure scores of buyers in that price bracket away from their current preferences.

This is purely because even people with two bar to burn have to get through daily life for which they often require adequate space for passengers and luggage alike. Although the car can meet those demands in moderate portions, it’s not what it is built for.

Simply put, it is a dream car. Even those fortunate enough to be able to foot the bill will have plenty of requirements the 8 Series Coupe won’t meet. Yet, when this beast cruises past the more practical R2 million SUV on the highway, the SUV owner will nonetheless get green with envy. After an almost two-decade hiatus, BMW has reintroduced the 8 Series Coupe late last year and unleashed their first two offerings – the M850i Coupe and Convertible – in South Africa last week.

The 8 Series Gran Coupe, M8 Coupe, M8 Convertible and M8 Gran Coupeare also expected to be rolled out in 2019.

BMW wants the new 8 Series to carry on the tradition of what they call extraordinary sports cars sporting an 8, which include the original 8 Series Coupe, the Z8 Roadster, the i8 Roadster and the i8 Coupe. According to BMW, the primary development objective for the new 8 Series Coupe was thrilling driving dynamics.

The body, powertrain and suspension were honed to achieve the supreme agility, precision and poise expected of a top-class sports car. The powerful engine combines the xDrive intelligent all-wheel-drive system and BMW Efficient Lightweight design measures.

And in the guise of the BMW M8 GTE, the car was extensively tested in endurance races. A new V8 power unit makes its debut in the M850i. The 4.4-litre engine with M Performance TwinPower Turbo technology serves up a blend of prodigious power delivery and an equally impressive soundtrack, which is further enhanced by the flap-controlled sports exhaust system.

The powertrain, coupled with the eight-speed Steptronic gearbox, generates 390kW, which is on tap between 5 500 and 6 000 rpm. Maximum torque of 750Nm is available over a wide rev range from 1 800 to 4 600 rpm for prolonged forward thrust.

It is claimed to get the car from 0 to 100km/h in just 3.7 seconds. The xDrive intelligent allwheel-drive system distributes torque between the front and rear wheels and maximises traction and handling stability during highly dynamic driving.

The electronically controlled rear differential lock fitted as standard on the M850i Coupe gives the car an even sportier edge.

The locking effect generated by an electric motor limits speed compensation between the inside and outside rear wheel when cornering, making it possible to power out of bends with eye-catching dynamic verve.

“It really offers the best of both worlds,” says Edward Makwana, Manager: Group Product Communications of BMW SA. “Two people can comfortably cruise in luxury, while at the same time you have a sports car at your disposal. It’s engine is a thing of immense power. The car comes from the race track to the road and is a dream car for many. “Others simply don’t have anything to rival it, which means it’s in a league of its own. It’s really the finest ambassador the BMW brand could ever have hoped for.”

The car’s low-slung design, an elongated silhouette with a slim window graphic and a roofline flowing elegantly into the rear with distinctive “double-bubble” contouring, a long wheelbase and a wide track are the defining elements of the 8 Series Coupe’s proportions.

The LED headlights are the slimmest of any BMW model to date and Laserlight with variable road illumination and Selective Beam is optionally available.

Inside the M850i is the ultimate combination of luxury and comfort, with newly developed sports seats upholstered as standard in Vernasca leather.

The full leather trim on the door shoulders and instrument panel is also standard. It offers an impressive list of comfort and safety features, with hordes of optional extras.

The enormous price tag doesn’t even make it the most expensive BMW available locally, but it’s credentials and good looks definitely make it one of the most desirable.

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