Review: BMW G14 8 Series Convertible – Striking The Right Balance

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Review: BMW G14 8 Series Convertible – Striking The Right Balance

Only a couple of months ago, BMW Malaysia took the wraps off what is arguably the sexiest product in their portfolio at the moment – the all-new G15 8 Series Coupe.

Some may argue that the i8 is sexier, but as impressive as it is, electric is electric and it will never touch your soul quite like the roar of a good ol’ V8 engine, will it?

And that is exactly why we were salivating all over the new 8, powered by BMW’s 4.4-litre TwinPower Turbo V8 engine, kicking out a massive 530 hp and 750 Nm of torque.

Thanks to the powertrain package, the 8 sprints from naught to 100 in just 3.7-seconds, and boy does it sound good when it comes to life!

So, as we were thinking that it couldn’t get any better than this in BMW Malaysia’s stable - at least for time being - we found out that the even sexier, topless version of the 8 Series could be headed our way.

So, in order to find out if the convertible is any better than the coupe, we spent some time with the 8 Convertible in the laid back town of Faro, Portugal to see what exactly it has to offer.

Specifications

  • Engine: 4.4-litre TwinPower Turbo V8, petrol 
  • Transmission:  8-speed automatic
  • Max Power: 530 PS from 5,500 to 6,000 rpm
  • Max Torque: 750 Nm from 1,800 to 4,600 rpm
  • Origin: Assembled in Dingolfing, Germany

Overview

Unveiled in November 2018, the G14 BMW 8 Series Convertible is available in two variants - the M850i xDrive and the diesel-powered 840d xDrive.

While the M850i xDrive is powered by the same 4.4-litre TwinPower Turbo V8 engine as the coupe which produces 530 hp and 750 Nm, the 840d xDrive gets a 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder turbodiesel engine that makes 320 hp and 680 Nm.

Both variants get the same 8-speed automatic transmission and BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive system. Further complementing the whole package is the M Adaptive suspension, with double-wishbones in front, and a multi-link setup in the rear.

Performance wise, the M850i Convertible does the century sprint in 3.9 seconds, which is 0.2 seconds slower than the coupe, while the 840d does it in 5.2 seconds, which is 0.3 seconds slower than its coupe counterpart.

Speaking of siblings and counterparts, the 8 Series reminded us a lot of the 6 Series which was a full-blown grand tourer. The 8 here however, is also a grand tourer even though the folks at BMW refer to it as a luxury sports car.   

The version which we sampled was of course the more powerful M850i xDrive, which is more relevant to our market.

Exterior 

On the exterior, the 8 Series Convertible is almost identical to the coupe, with only a few differences.

The main difference is of course, the folding fabric roof which operates in 15 seconds and can function at speeds up to 50 km/h. In addition to the folding roof, the convertible gets new cross struts, new panels for the underbody, third brake light that is integrated into the boot lid, and aluminium roll over bars for added safety.

Because of these additional components, the 8 Series Convertible weighs about 100 kg more than the coupe, which also explains why it does the century sprint two-tenths of a second slower than the coupe.

Besides that, everything has been carried over from the coupe lock, stock, and barrel. Key exterior features include BMW Laser headlights, LED DRLs, 20-inch wheels, and since the model we tested was clad in M Performance kit, it came with sporty bumpers, as well as kidney grilles and logos finished in Cerium Grey.

Does it look better than the coupe? Well, it depends on what a buyer is looking for.

While the coupe looks more aggressive and sporty, the convertible here looks more "relaxed", and definitely more luxurious than its sibling. When seen from certain angles, it even looks like a bigger version of the new Z4.   

Measuring 4,843 mm long, 1,902 mm wide, 1,339 mm tall, with a 2,822 mm-long wheelbase, there is no difference in terms of dimensions between the cabriolet and the coupe.

However, if we are to compare it with the 6 Series just to put things into perspective, the 8 is 43 mm shorter, 23 mm lower, and 8 mm wider, which puts this car somewhere between an S-Class Coupe and the Porsche 911 in terms of size.

Now that the numbers and figures are out of the way, time to answer the important question of “does the cabriolet look better than the coupe?” With the top down, hell-yeah it does!

But with the roof up, owners have to get the body and roof colour combination right in order to really make it stand out compared to its rivals like the Porsche 911 Cabriolet, Bentley Continental GT Convertible, and the Aston Martin DB11 Volante.

There are seven exterior colour options and a wide range of personalisation options available under BMW Individual collection, so owners can actually knock themselves out when it comes to picking the right colours.

Interior

Inside, the 8 cabriolet is a carbon-copy of the coupe. It’s fitted with M Sport steering wheel, M pedals and footrest, Merino genuine leather seats, and a dashboard that is unique to the 8 Series family.

Providing the driver with all the necessary information is the 12.3-inch BMW Live Cockpit Professional digital instrument display which takes some time to get used to, as well as the 10.25-inch screen in the middle of the dashboard, both of which are running on the latest BMW Operating System 7.0.

Unlike most instrument panels where the speedometer and the rev meters move clockwise, BMW's Live Cockpit Pro has the rev meter moving anti-clockwise. On top of that, we have a whole lot of information - from who sang the current song you're listening to, to the navigation map - being displayed within the 12.3-inch screen.

With so much happening, it definitely took us some time to familiarise outrselves with the system as we didn't know where to focus.   

Below the central display, is a pretty straight forward air-cond control panel followed by a compartment with two cubby holes and also a wireless smartphone charging dock.

Further down below is the gorgeous crystal glass gear lever which sits next to the iDrive dial, and the buttons to choose between driving modes as well as the suspension settings.

Unlike most sports cars which are fully loaded with Alcantara and carbon fibre trims inside the cabin, the 8 Convertible feels way plusher and easier on the eyes thanks to items like the generous dose of leather upholstery and the crystal glass gear lever among others.

It may not be as visually appealing as cars like the Aston Martin DBS Superleggera Volante or the Bentley Continental GT Convertible, but it is still quite a welcoming cabin to be in.

In terms of setbacks, there are two issues with the 8 Convertible. Firstly, the rear seats are useless. Even the folks from Munich whom we were talking to during the drive said that they are more of a place to store things instead of human beings.

Secondly, the topless 8 does not come with BMW’s Gesture Control feature which is available in the Coupe.

This is because the sensors that are needed for the feature are actually positioned on the roof close to the front windscreen. So, since the convertible’s roof is retractable, the sensors could not be fitted, hence the lack of Gesture Control, which happens to be one of the coolest features in new models from Munich.

Driving Impression

For a car that weighs more than two tonnes, the 8 Convertible is mighty quick. The 530 PS and 750 Nm of torque which comes courtesy of the 4.4-litre TwinPower Turbo V8 mill was more than we could ever ask for.

There are four driving modes (Sport, Comfort, Eco Pro, Adaptive) which can be selected via a dedicated button for each mode.

Throughout our stint with the car, we were mostly in Adaptive mode, where the suspension, steering, and the Steptronic transmission constantly adapted the settings to suit the current driving situation, ensuring that there was always the right balance between comfort and sportiness.

In Sports mode however, the steering tightened, throttle became more sensitive, the dampers got harder, the pops and crackles from the exhaust pipes got louder, and the gears were being held for a longer period. After about an hour in Sport mode, we felt things were getting a tad too wild for our liking, and back we went to Adaptive mode.

This was when we realised that the 8 is more of a grand tourer by nature than a full blown performance-oriented sports car. However, the 8 felt much more eager and sportier than the 6 Series, which is a good thing.  

Compared to the more aggressive Mercedes-AMG’s 63-series models and most Porsches in which you feel the urge to push them harder the more you drive them, the 8 Series Convertible got us going back into Adaptive or Normal mode after some time, where we just wanted to chill and cruise with the top down as that was when the car felt the best.

But that doesn’t mean that the 8 can’t take a hammering. This car, despite its sheer size, is capable of sprinting from standstill to 100 km/h in just under four seconds. Plus, the xDrive all-wheel drive system ensures that there is constant grip. So, make no mistake that the 8 Convertible is a car that can mean business if it wants to.

Thanks to the M Adaptive air suspension system, the 8 Convertible felt very comfortable both when we were driving slowly in town and when we were travelling at much higher speeds along the highways.

Conclusion

As much as BMW wants to call the 8 Convertible a sports car, it is more of a luxury grand tourer by nature. It is big, it is powerful, and feels absolutely at home while blasting down the highway and long scenic roads. At the same time, it is also comfortable and refined enough to be used as a daily. 

Yes, it is still a BMW and does not disappoint at all when you push it really hard, but why rush when you can just bring the top down, cruise down the streets with every pair of eyes locked on your car and yourself?

It may not look as extravagant as an S-Class Cabriolet or a Bentley Continental GT Convertible, but it definitely drives better than the two. At the same time, it may not feel as raw as a Porsche 911 Cabriolet in the driver's seat, but it certainly looks better and feels more luxurious and refined.  

Where the 8 Convertible sits is somewhere right in the middle of its segment, offering the right balance between luxury, style, performance, and comfort. Plus, if we are to look at it from a BMW fan's point of view, the 8 Convertible is arguably the best looking model they have to offer at the moment. 

So, if money is not an issue at all, and you want a gorgeous topless power cruiser which offers the best of all worlds, look no further than the 8 Convertible.

Gallery: BMW 8 Series Convertible



Gokul

Gokul

Writer

He firmly believes that we should listen to Bob Marley more often while driving to make the road a better place.


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