BMW's 8 Series Convertible is $121K sunny day real estate
With 523 horsepower and super plush accommodations, the 2019 BMW 8 Series Convertible is one heck of a sporty grand tourer.
Steven EwingFormer managing editor
Steven Ewing spent his childhood reading car magazines, making his career as an automotive journalist an absolute dream job. After getting his foot in the door at Automobile while he was still a teenager, Ewing found homes on the mastheads at Winding Road magazine, Autoblog and Motor1.com before joining the CNET team in 2018. He has also served on the World Car Awards jury. Ewing grew up ingrained in the car culture of Detroit -- the Motor City -- before eventually moving to Los Angeles. In his free time, Ewing loves to cook, binge trash TV and play the drums.
is pretty damn impressive. Its on-road demeanor strikes a great balance between sportiness and grand-touring-spec luxury, and it's actually a hoot and a half on a race track. The M850i Coupe will arrive in US showrooms this December, and it'll soon be joined by the M850i Convertible, which BMW officially revealed Thursday ahead of the droptop's
LA Auto Show
I actually got to see the 2019 8 Series Convertible last month while attending the M850i Coupe media launch in Portugal. Like its hardtop sibling, it's a big, impressive-looking thing, with a low, wide stance and elegant, flowing lines. I miss the long, flowing C pillar of the coupe, but think the convertible looks great in profile, especially with the top up. With the soft top retracted, the lengthy body and short windscreen strike an elegant pose. Viewed from the side, the M850i Convertible looks like a fancy slip-on shoe.
Convertible it replaces, the 8 Series uses a heavily insulated fabric roof that can be raised or lowered in just 15 seconds, and operated at speeds of up to 30 miles per hour. Lowering the roof does cut into available trunk space a little. But BMW notes the 8 Series is one of the few convertibles on the market with folding rear seats, so even when the roof is retracted, the cargo hold can accommodate long items.
2019 BMW 8 Series Convertible: Topless grand touring
The back seats themselves are actually quite spacious. With the front seat adjusted to my perfect position, there's enough space for me to comfortably sit behind myself. (Mind you, I'm only five feet, eight inches tall, so larger folks likely won't feel so comfy.) And unlike the coupe, where the rakish roofline impedes ingress and egress, getting in and out of the convertible's back seats is a breeze. Assuming the top is down, that is.
Front passengers have all the same luxury amenities in the 8 Series Convertible as they do in its hardtop counterpart, with supportive, leather-trimmed seats and an array of premium materials on the doors, dashboard and center console. BMW's iDrive 7 infotainment tech is onboard, as well, with a 10.25-inch screen atop the center stack, controlled either by touch, a rotary knob on the console, or in some cases, gestures. A 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster sits right in front of the driver, and a huge, color head-up display projects important information right onto the windshield.
Air vents are integrated into the seats, just below the head rests -- like
Airscarf system -- allowing warm air to circulate around the back of your neck, which is a godsend on brisk days when you still want to drive with the top down.
In addition to the wind in your hair, putting the top down gives you better access to the raucous V8 soundtrack. The M850i Convertible uses the same 4.4-liter, twin-turbocharged V8 engine as the new coupe, with 523 horsepower and 553 pound-feet sent to all four wheels through an 8-speed automatic transmission. BMW says the M850i xDrive Convertible can sprint to 60 miles per hour in 3.9 seconds, which is 0.3 seconds slower than the coupe, largely due to the droptop's 258-pound weight penalty.
Every M850i Convertible rides on 20-inch wheels, and BMW fits it with the same go-fast tech as the hardtop model. That means the Adaptive M suspension is standard, as is rear-wheel steering. I have every reason to believe the M850i Convertible will be just as enjoyable to drive as the coupe I recently tested.
Following its debut at the 2018 LA Auto Show, the 2019 BMW M850i Convertible will hit US dealerships in March, priced from $121,400. That's a $9,500 price hike over the M850i Coupe, but for well-heeled buyers who love open-top motoring, it's a small price to pay.