BMW 8 Series Gran Coupe saloon
"The BMW 8 Series Gran Coupe has two extra doors and more passenger space than the standard 8 Series but it retains the same performance and character"
- Exciting to drive
- Extra passenger space
- Lots of kit
- Expensive to run
- Lack of a hatchback
- No hybrid yet
This is the four-door BMW 8 Series Gran Coupe, the third and most practical version in the 8 Series range, following the launch of the two-door Coupe and Cabriolet. If you often need to carry passengers then it's the 8 Series model to go for, but BMW claims it's far from a soft alternative and that its sporting credentials are left very much intact.
That's because the car is based on the same platform as the two-door but with 201mm of extra length between the wheels to improve passenger legroom. You still get the same potent petrol and diesel engines, along with a choice of rear- or four-wheel drive. The boot has grown slightly too, to 440 litres, which is enough to accommodate three sets of golf clubs. If that's not enough room the back seats also fold down, but it's worth bearing in mind that, as with a saloon, only the boot lid opens, unlike the hatchback of a Porsche Panamera.
On the road, the 8 Series Gran Coupe provides plenty of feedback, and while its suspension remains comfortable in its normal mode, Sport tightens everything up enough to provide a more athletic feel. Even the mid-range 3.0-litre 840i petrol feels rapid, getting from 0-62mph in 4.9 seconds, with the similarly specified 840d diesel just 0.2 seconds slower. BMW has also done a good job disguising the Gran Coupe's length, which equals the 7 Series luxury saloon. Rear-wheel steering helps tighten its turning circle and improve agility at lower speeds, making it feel like a smaller, more nimble car.
If you're prepared to spend the extra, the range-topping M850i has a twin-turbo 4.4-litre V8 that's a detuned version of the engine in the BMW M8. Its 523bhp shaves a second off the 0-62mph time of the 840i, but while the latter can manage over 30mpg, the V8 will struggle to get out of the low 20s.
Interior quality is excellent, and the 8 Series Gran Coupe impresses with its technology too. There are sharp digital screens for the instrument panel and iDrive infotainment system, with slick graphics and logical menus, although the sheer number of driving modes and settings can get confusing. Apple CarPlay is included but Android Auto isn’t even available as an option.
BMW has succeeded in making a reasonably practical four-seater that feels more like a sports car to drive than the Audi A7 or Mercedes CLS. The 8 Series Gran Coupe also looks great and is well equipped as standard, but it’s rather pricey to buy and run.
MPG, running costs & CO2
BMW expects the 840i petrol to be the most popular version, and its 3.0-litre turbocharged engine is capable of returning up to 33.2mpg, with CO2 emissions from 168g/km. It's not exactly cheap to run but neither should it be ruinously expensive, and 33mpg isn't a bad figure for such a rapid and heavy performance car. It's also a number that drops into the 20s if you plump for the range-topping Gran Coupe 850i, with its big V8 engine. You'll need a healthy motoring budget to go for this model. The all-electric Porsche Taycan can deliver a similar overall experience and even more vivid acceleration but with much lower running costs.
The top economy figure is reserved for the diesel 840d, which can return up to 39.2mpg with xDrive four-wheel drive fitted. However, CO2 emissions of 162g/km mean it joins the rest of the range in the top Benefit-in-Kind company tax band.
Insurance is likely to be pricey, with the 8 Series Gran Coupe 840d already confirmed for group 47 out of a possible 50. Perhaps surprisingly, the faster 840i is actually in group 44, while the M850i is in group 49. In our Driver Power survey, you told us BMW servicing is pricey, and that's likely to be the case for the 8 Series.
Engines, drive & performance
BMW goes to great pains to point out the Gran Coupe is a four-door based on a two-door sports coupe, and because of this it retains its special feel and performance. It certainly is poised for such a large car, and with rear-wheel drive it feels agile and balanced. The steering is precise too, which isn't always a given for a big BMW, while grip levels are massive thanks to the wide sports tyres.
In Sport mode the Gran Coupe feels stiffer and more lively, meeting BMW's sports car claims and providing an entertaining soundtrack in the 840i petrol we tested. It feels quick too, with the turbocharged power delivery of the 3.0-litre straight-six providing urgent shove from very low in the rev range until the next gear arrives. Despite being common with other BMW models like the 5 Series saloon, unique tuning means it feels especially potent faster here than when we’ve driven it previously, and it can crack 0-62mph in 4.9 seconds.
The M850i xDrive is fitted with a 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 petrol engine that's a less powerful version of the engine in the BMW M8 engine. With 523bhp and four-wheel traction, it can leap from 0-62mph in 3.9 seconds, but it has the same 155mph electronic limiter as the 840i. It's incredibly quick at any point the rev range but there's a problem; there aren't a great number of situations where the M850i xDrive is notably more fun than the 840i, yet it costs around £30,000 more.
Long distance drivers will appreciate that a diesel is still offered in the Gran Coupe - quite a few rivals are now petrol only. The 840d has 316bhp from its 3.0-litre straight-six, so it's certainly no slouch, accelerating from 0-62mph in 5.1 seconds.
Interior & comfort
It might have a sporting focus, but the Gran Coupe isn’t unrelentingly hardcore, and the suspension is cosseting in its softest ‘Comfort’ setting. It can be very refined too, especially with the exhaust in its quietest mode. The suspension does a good job of keeping control of the body of the car but the 21-inch alloy wheels have a tendency to send thuds and jolts into the cabin when faced with potholes and expansion joints.
Hop between the driver's seats of the 8 Series Coupe and Gran Coupe and they're virtually identical. That's to say, materials are top notch and there's a huge amount of technology on offer, even in the standard car. ‘Entry-level’ wouldn't be a fair description of the most affordable 8 Series, sitting where it does near the top of BMW's model range, and it comes with an attractive 12.3-inch instrument panel and 10.25-inch infotainment system.
You also get front and rear heated seats, wireless smartphone charging and a digital display key, which can show information such as the fuel level, but is rather bulky to carry around. A Harmon Kardon stereo is even fitted as standard, where in most BMWs it costs extra. There are plenty of options to make the 8 Series Gran Coupe even more lavish though, from soft-closing doors to carbon-fibre trim and a Heat Comfort pack that adds a heated steering wheel and armrests. You can also upgrade the stereo for a Bowers & Wilkins system.
Practicality & boot space
BMW describes the 8 Series Gran Coupe as a '4+1', which essentially means there are four seats for adults, while the middle spot in the back has a seatbelt but is only really suitable for occasional use, with legroom compromised by the large centre console. One benefit of the latter is that it does provide USB sockets and climate control for those sat in the back.
Passengers in the outer rear seats will be much more comfortable than in the regular 8 Series Coupe, enjoying far better legroom and headroom as well as their own set of doors. BMW has stretched the gap between the front and rear wheels by 201mm, so while it isn't on a par with a luxury saloon, it's comfortable enough for people in the back on long drives. The main disadvantage is a sloping roofline that cuts into headroom in the back more than in a 7 Series, or even a 5 Series.
Boot space has also increased by 20 litres to 440, giving the sleek Gran Coupe more load space than most family hatchbacks and enough room for three golf bags. There's also 40:20:40 split and folding rear seats, and a powered boot lid to aid access. However, unlike some rivals, the boot has a saloon-style opening rather than a hatchback, making it less versatile and less accessible.
Reliability & safety
Costing from around £70,000, owners will expect the 8 Series Gran Coupe to be supremely well built, and on the surface it delivers. This is a very advanced car though, so hopefully it won't suffer from the electrical gremlins that appeared to put a dent in BMW's results in our 2019 Driver Power survey. Here the brand came 25th out of 30 manufacturers, with 22.3% of owners telling us their car had a fault within the first year.
Safety shouldn't be a major concern because BMW has been on great form in Euro NCAP crash tests of late, with a raft of five-star results for its latest models. Given the 8 Series won’t be sold in huge numbers, it may never be crash-tested, but it's reassuring to know it benefits from the top safety features and technology BMW offers. This includes cameras and sensors designed to look out for trouble and help navigate car parks. The 8 Series is also fitted with a new head-up display that covers a larger portion of the windscreen than before.