Parkers overall rating: 4.4 out of 5 4.4
  • Luxurious and high-quality material feel
  • But doesn’t differ that much to high-spec 3 Series models
  • Packed with advanced technology

2019 BMW 8 Series dashboard

Slip behind the wheel of the 8 Series and you’re greeted with a leather-draped interior with a set of very comfortable leather chairs and a high-quality feel throughout.

The doors close with an expensive-sounding thud, and everything you touch is upholstered in soft leather, while all the buttons have a high-quality look and feel. There’s also a crystal gearknob if you want to up the bling level, but be prepared for it to reflect the sun quite ferociously into your eyes at times.

There are plenty of modern features and details to make the 8 Series feel thoroughly up to date, such as the digital cockpit and widescreen infotainment system, plus crisp head-up display and slick iDrive controls on the centre console.

And while it all works well, it’s the same kit you’ll find on a 3 Series which costs a significant amount less money in the first place. While that’s great for 3 Series owners, coating everything in leather doesn’t make it quite as special as it could be.

Also, you can’t configure the dials to the same degree as in Audi’s Virtual Cockpit-equipped cars and the latest Operating System 7.0 media package can be a little menu-heavy and takes some getting used to. Thankfully, you can programme the number keys to be specific shortcuts, or get to each menu via a button on the centre console, but they’re all flush with the surface. While that looks neat, you need to look down to check which one you’re pressing. Alternatively, control it via the rotary dial, the touchscreen or voice control. So at least you’ve got options.

Storage is good though, with big door bins and a big area beneath the armrest. You sit low in the 8 Series which is befitting of a big coupe, but the 8 Series can feel big when you’re sitting behind the wheel, with visibility quite restricted. Good thing you can get cameras fitted all-round then.

Extra little details on the M8 Competition

You can differentiate the M8 Competition from the rest of the range by spotting a few small details around the cabin.

The illuminated M8 badges in the front headrests may not serve a highly functional purpose as they light up the back of your neck, but the red highlights found on the starter button and M mode buttons on the steering wheel are easier to spot.

You’ll also notice the part-leather gearlever has an adjustable toggle switch to adjust the velocity of the shifts for the automatic gearbox.

The biggest difference for the driver, however, is the ability to switch to an M display mode for the digital cockpit, showing a simpler layout with most of the information placed in the centre of the screen.

Furthermore, switching to the Track drive mode switches off the centre display and parking sensors to minimise distraction for the driver.

Is it comfortable?

  • Excellent seats on all models
  • Great long-distance cruiser
  • Visibility isn’t great, but cramped in rear

As it’s billed as a grand tourer, the 8 Series needs to excel here, and it does as long as you keep the car in Comfort mode – selected via buttons near the gearlever on the centre console.

It’s pitched somewhere between a more focused sports coupe like a Porsche 911 and a luxurious wafter like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe and Bentley Continental GT. That could mean it doesn’t quite fit into either category, but it treads the middle ground rather well.

It’s more satisfying to drive in a relaxed way, where it wafts along quietly and comfortably, soaking up bumps very well and with the luxurious seats keeping you ache-free and adequately heated or cooled (or even massaged where fitted).

It’s also very quiet indeed, with minimal noise making its way into the cabin, which is a key factor in being a suitable car for long distances.

Tweak the driving modes to Sport or Sport+ and the experience changes quite dramatically, with a much stiffer feel to the ride as the suspension stiffens. It helps make the car agile, but does disrupt the peace.

Firm suspension on the M8 Competition

Given the sporting pretentions of the M8 Competition, it comes as no surprise that the ride is a little knobbly on most road surfaces, even when set to the car’s most comfortable setting. The Convertible is noticeably softer in comparison and may be the one to go for if you want the combination of the fastest 8 Series and a more forgiving ride quality.

For some, the firmer ride in the Coupe lends the M8 Competition a sportier feel that’s more fitting to the badge. However, considering this coupe is meant to appeal to luxury buyers, this falls far short of the same cushioned ride quality found on the Bentley Continental GT.

The BMW M8 Competition won’t be causing any backache at any point, but the compromise for that crisp handling is all too apparent if you expect Bentley Continental GT or Mercedes S-Class levels of bump absorption.