The new 8 Series Convertible from BMW is the natural successor to the original 6 Series Convertible, but with BMW repositioning the latest 6 Series as a more practical four-door hatchback, that's left a gap at the top of the range.
The new 8 Series Convertible is the famous company’s flagship car, with the new 8 Series now designed to blur the lines between a long-legged Grand Tourer and more focused sports car. This means that BMW hopes you’ll find is a comfy and powerful car that’s just as at home on long drives as it is for evening blasts on quiet backroads. While you can do this from the cocoon of a coupe, BMW has launched a convertible alongside for those looking for an even more exhilarating drive, and that's the focus for this test.
BMW 8 Series Convertible: Design
- Elegant styling lines
- Large and broad shoulders at the rear
- Only 2% less stiff than the coupe model
Engines: 8-cylinder or 6-cylinder petrol
Power output: 530bhp (M850i) | 340bhp (840i)
Max speed: 155mph (M850i) | 155mph (840i)
0-62mph: 3.9 seconds (M850i) | 5.2 seconds (840i)
Fuel economy: 25mpg (M850i) | 29mpg (840i)
The new 8 Series Convertible is one of the first models in BMW’s line-up to enjoy the company’s new design direction. In essence, this means that there’s a large and imposing grille on the front of the car and a long way removed from the neat little kidney grille that classic BMWs enjoyed. Despite its large size, the grille is more for show than anything, with clever active shutters that actually close shut at high speeds to help air slip over the large bonnet, only opening at low speeds when the engine needs an extra shot of air to keep cool.
Gaze down the side and the 8 Series has some nicely defined sculptural lines that are complemented by large and broad hunches at the rear to give the car real presence. Perhaps not as elegant as rivals from Porsche or Aston Martin, but it certainly strikes an imposing look.
Unlike many previous BMWs, the 8 Series Convertible has a canvas roof as opposed to a folding hardtop, and we reckon it’s all the better for it, looking much neater to our eye. It’s also pretty quick, taking just 15 seconds to open at speeds at up to 31mph. It takes the same time to close as well, which can be pretty handy when dealing with temperamental weather conditions.
Taking the roof off a car is always going to compromise the stiffness and rigidity of it, but BMW reckons that it’s only 2% less stiff than the coupe model, with the chassis of the soft top using the same carbon core as its hard top sibling.
As we’ve just touched on, a coupe version of the 8 Series is also available as well, with a roof that nicely tapers down towards the tail pretty much from the top of the windscreen, while the double-bubble section is a nice touch too.
BMW 8 Series Convertible: Interior
- Interior finish is stunning
- 12.3-inch digital instrument display
- Air scarves to warm your neck
Inside and BMW hasn’t held back. It’s an incredibly sumptuous place to be, with plenty of sumptuous materials used that’s complemented by an impressive array of tech.
This includes BMW's latest iDrive infotainment system with a 10.25-inch touchscreen display. It can be used simply by swiping the screen to navigate, or there's an intuitive multi-controller should prefer on the central console, while this latest system is designed to present less information to the user but prioritise what they really want to see. The result is one of the best infotainment systems available
As well as this, there's a large 12.3-inch screen for the digital dials (a nice touch is that these change appearance depending what driving mode you’re in), and a suite of self-driving tech. This includes a new Reverse Assistant function, which can retrace the car’s path in reverse if you’ve driven forwards into a tricky spot. You simply operate the pedals and the car does the steering for you.
Standard models feature air scarves to warm your neck when you have the top down on those cold mornings, as well as electrically adjustable sports seats. There are also swish-looking mirror-ball rotary controls, while from the options list, you might be taken by the likes of the optional crystal gear lever.
While the coupe’s sloping roof makes the back seats tight on headroom, it’s not an issue with the convertible. That said, it’s only really suited to smaller occupants as the leg room is still pretty limited. There’s ISOFIX attachments on the rear seats and we managed to shoehorn in two child seats quite happily. Reality is that theses seats will often be used for extra luggage, though the trunk itself is pretty big of a car of this size, with 12.3 cubic feet of cargo capacity and it should happily swallow up a set of golf clubs. This space will be compromised should you drop the roof.
BMW 8 Series Convertible: On the road
- Engine sounds great
- Effortless power
- Well-balanced handling
Prices start at $97,400 / £78,840 for the 840i that comes with the 3.0-liter inline 6-cylinder power unit, while the the 4.4-liter V8 M850i xDrive starts at $121,400 / £107,220. Outside the US and there's also the option of a 6-cylinder 840d xDrive diesel starting at £83.415.
Nestled under that large bonnet is the choice of two impressive power units. There’s the headline-grabbing M850i with a 4.4-litre, twin turbo V8 that kicks out a serious 523bhp and is good for 0-62mph in a heady 3.9 seconds, with BMW's xDrive four-wheel drive system as standard.
If that's a bit too much, there's the 840i. This rear-wheel drive model features a smooth 3.0-liter straight-six power unit which produces 340bhp and is just a fraction slower, hitting 62mph in 5.3 seconds.
Outside of the US and there's a slightly less glamorous 840d xDrive straight-six diesel as well. Don’t discount this however, as this 3.0-liter unit still kicks 320bhp and will whisk you to 62mph in a still very quick 5.2 seconds thanks to its xDrive traction. Don’t think it sounds like an old tractor either. It’s incredibly refined and smooth, with a real grunt to the exhaust note when you push on.
Tipping the scales at over 4400lbs, it’s surprisingly agile when you start hurling it into corners too. This is in part thanks to the clever four-wheel-steering system that our 8 Series Convertible came with, helping you place the car precisely into bends. You always feel in control as well, with the xDrive four-wheel drive system providing plenty of grip as it enters and exits corners at speed.
While it’s billed as a sports car, and you can certainly have a lot of fun on an empty road, the 8 Series Convertible is a true Gran Tourer. The effortless power from the engine and refined handling will see you cover ground with ease and always with a smile on your face.
BMW 8 Series Convertible: Verdict
BMW has given itself a hard task by trying to appeal to both those looking for a big and fast Grand Tourer and those looking for an out-and-out sportscar, but it just about gets away with it.
Superbly engineered, the 8 Series Convertible is a stunning car if you looking for a supremely comfy, refined and quick car to do some serious miles in, while still producing enough drama for when you want to have a bit of fun.