The 8 Series Gran Coupe is the stretched out version of the standard 8 Series Coupe
The 8 Series Gran Coupe is the stretched out version of the standard 8 Series Coupe
Car Reviews

New BMW 8-series Gran Coupe review - the 8 makes more sense with more space

The new 8-series Gran Coupe adds more doors to the formula, but adding a bit of key practicality to the range

Antony Ingram

What a sexy road presence the 8 Series has!

What a sexy road presence the 8 Series has!

Gran Coupe is slightly confusing BMW nomenclature for four-door, four-seat versions of its regular two-door coupes. We’ve seen it before on the 4-series, and also the 6-series that this new 8-series Gran Coupe replaces.

BMW says it’s the only model in its segment derived directly from a two-door sports car – a sly dig at the E-class-based AMG GT 4-door, perhaps – but as the 8-series’ credentials as a “sports car” are by no means clear, we’ll take that one with a hefty pinch of salt.

There’s no doubting it’s distinctive though, and here in entry-level 840i form and rear-wheel drive, it packs the same powertrain as the BMW Z4 – or, if you like, the Toyota Supra. We already know that’s a potent combination, but how does it fare in the heavier, comfier 8-series Gran Coupe?

The most well proportioned luxury coupe sedan out there?
The most well proportioned luxury coupe sedan out there?

Engine, transmission and 0-60 time

It’s traditional BMW fare here: A three-litre inline six up front, and drive to the rear wheels alone. Okay, so the ‘six is turbocharged, and an eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox means the 840i is hardly an E36 M3, but with 335bhp at its disposal and a usefully lighter kerb weight than xDrive models (1800kg, a saving of 55kg over the 840i xDrive and 195kg less than the M850i xDrive) it’s off to a good start.

Peak power comes in at 5000-6500rpm, while 500Nm of torque is on offer from 1600-4500rpm. The resulting 5.2-second 0-100kmph run is hardly tardy, and top speed is limited to 250kmph.

One benefit of this engine, over the M850i at least, is economy. BMW claims up to 16.24kmpl with 168g/km of CO2, to the V8’s 12.11kmpl and 229g/km.

There’s no doubting it’s distinctive though, and here in entry-level 840i form and rear-wheel drive, it packs the same powertrain as the BMW Z4 – or, if you like, the Toyota Supra. We already know that’s a potent combination, but how does it fare in the heavier, comfier 8-series Gran Coupe?

Same engine does duty on the Z4 and the Supra
Same engine does duty on the Z4 and the Supra

Technical highlights

Forward of the A-pillar the Gran Coupe’s setup is identical to that of the Coupe, but the windscreen frame itself is more upright than on the two-door car, facilitating extra interior room. The rear window is steeply raked, limiting headroom for anyone over around 6’4” if colleagues on the launch are any indication, and the layout is strictly two individual seats with a large centre console dividing legroom. The boot is a proper saloon-car style job – better for chassis rigidity than an A7-style hatchback, albeit considerably less practical. Adaptive suspension is fitted as standard.

Blacked out cabin and luxurious rear seats

Blacked out cabin and luxurious rear seats

What’s it like to drive?

Any fresh vibe our satin-white 840i Gran Coupe test car might have had was undermined somewhat by a coal hole of a cabin that really doesn’t do justice to what’s otherwise a thoroughly pleasant driving environment. The layout is quite traditional by recent BMW standards, with a centre console angled towards the driver (topped by a wide infotainment display) and the driving position is spot-on, feeling lower than in say, a 5-series.

The crystal gear selector is an acquired taste, and its chiselled facets can feel a little unusual in the hand, while the contra-rotating virtual needles of the digital gauge cluster are fussy, but with a head-up display you barely need to look at them anyway, so you can literally overlook it.

And don’t BMWs just feel right with six-cylinder engines? From the moment you fire up the 3-litre, it feels ideal for the car. It’s smooth and restrained lower down the rev range, but it responds to the smallest flexes of your ankle and takes on a strident tone towards the top end – if lower in pitch in this modern turbocharged form compared to BMW sixes of old.

But even with 1.8 tons to push along, this engine’s game. There’s no thump in the back, no white-knuckle acceleration, just keen performance, appropriate for the car, and whether left in auto to do its own thing (ideally in Sport mode) or taking charge via the paddles, you never feel short-changed. It’s not Supra or Z4-fast, but it’s still plenty.

What a sexy road presence the 8 Series has!
What a sexy road presence the 8 Series has!

We did notice some unusual driveline shunt when backing off the power, making smooth deceleration a little tricky, but once you’re on the brakes all is fine again – they’re powerful and easy to modulate. More so than the 8’s electronics would have you believe, anyway – the sooner you switch the panicked beeping and over-eager lane-keep assistance off, the better.

This would all be for naught if the 8 GC’s chassis wasn’t up to snuff, but there’s more good news here. It often feels like a smaller car than its 5-meter profile suggests – there’s an agility and balance that wouldn’t feel out of place in a 3-series. BMW’s steering is on the right track for improvement too, with less of the gloopiness than we’ve found in many M products, so squidgy, overly-thick steering wheel rim aside, you get a fairly good idea of what the front tyres are doing.

Generally, they’re gripping, and fairly hard at that, though the weight takes over eventually and if you’re a little too keen on the throttle the GC is more likely to wash gently wide than push the tail out. It does handle bumps well though. The structure feels stiff, and only over particularly uneven surfaces did its composure waver, even in Sport, as the dampers tried to contain the car’s weight.

Ultimately you’d still have more fun in something smaller, lighter and more pointy, but in six-cylinder, rear-wheel drive form, the 8-series Gran Coupe strikes a well-judged balance between driver engagement and GT-like comfort.

BMW's love affair with flashy gear levers
BMW's love affair with flashy gear levers

Price and rivals

BMW has launched two Gran Coupe variants in India today– the 840i which is priced Rs 1.29 crore and the 840i M Sport starting at Rs 1.55 crore, a premium of Rs 26 lakh over the standard Gran Coupe. At this price range, the Gran Coupe’s closest rivals are the Porsche Panamera GTS and Mercedes-Benz CLS 300d, the latter however starts at Rs 86 lakh, making it the most affordable of the lot. The Panamera GTS on the other hand is the most driver-focused and starts at Rs 1.89 crore.

What’s great is that all the cars here go about things in a slightly different way. The Mercedes has a fluid, sophisticated feel with a great cabin and smooth powertrain. The Panamera GTS on the other hand is all about performance, in the typical Porsche manner. The Bimmer then slots in between, and is a blend of luxury and performance both.

Evo India
www.evoindia.com