Coupes

2020 BMW M8 promises heavyweight performance, stunning tech

Featuring up to 617 hp and industry-first adjustable braking, these six-figure coupe and convertible models deliver "near-supercar" performance.

BMW

The 2020 BMW M8 Coupe and Convertible have finally arrived, and they're simultaneously pretty, angry and expensive -- just not necessarily in that order. The new two-door, all-wheel-drive range-topping performance twins bring up to 617 horsepower to the party, hitting 60 mph in as little as 3.0 seconds en route to top speed of up to 189 mph. They also cost a heady $133,000 and $142,500 before options and a $995 delivery fee, respectively.

Adding additional brawn to the already impressive BMW 8 Series, all M8 models rely on a new version of the German automaker's S63 M TwinPower 4.4-liter V8 engine. The powerplant features upgraded turbochargers nestled down in the V of the engine block, along with unique cross-bank exhaust manifolds and ultra-high-pressure fuel injection to help realize 600 hp at 6,000 RPM and a healthy 553 pound-feet of torque from just 1,800 RPM. 

For those looking for a bit more, Competition models feature unique tuning to develop 617 hp, and although the max torque figure remains unchanged at 553 pound-feet, that twist is available over a slightly wider band -- 160 RPM. With the M8's increased performance over garden-variety 8 Series models, BMW has also seen fit to upgrade the car's cooling and oil supply systems.

Regardless of which M8 you choose, all models are paired to a satellite-linked eight-speed automatic transmission with paddles and selectable Drivelogic performance modes. We're particularly interested to see how the xDrive all-wheel-drive system acquits itself. In most situations, the system behaves like a normal rear-wheel-drive setup until slip is detected.

Competition models also include a switchable, richer-sounding M Sport exhaust system, as well as stiffer engine mounts for improved powertrain response. Competition-spec M8 models shave 60 mph times by a tenth of a second versus standard models, with the Competition coupe hitting 60 in 3.0 seconds and the Convertible taking 3.1 seconds.

That additional power gets to the ground with the help of a stiffer electromagnetically-damped suspension setup, with model-specific bushings, strut tie bars and swivel bearings. Competition models ride firmer still, with rear toe-link balljoints in place of other model's rubber bushings, as well as more front negative camber more urgent turn-in.

The power-operated soft top retracts in 15 seconds at up to 30 mph.

BMW

While recent BMW M cars have featured highly adjustable performance parameters, they've been a bit fiddly to access. The new M8 includes a single setup button on the center console to tailor the M8's various characteristics, including engine and transmission parameters, as well as steering, suspension, all-wheel-drive system, and, for the first time in a modern car that we can recall, adjustable braking. The latter is a by-wire system that features two modes, Comfort and Sport, in order to vary pedal feedback and response according to the driver's wishes.

395-mm front and 380-mm iron brakes are fitted as standard with six-piston fixed calibers up front and rear single-piston floating units out back. An optional carbon ceramic setup bumps sizing up to 400 mm and 380 mm, respectively. Those brakes are shrouded by standard 20-inch wheels wearing high-performance non-run-flat (huzzah!) tires. Competition models get their own 20-inch forged alloys, which a BMW release says features "a gloss-milled 3D structure and bicolor design which generate unique light reflections to showcase the cars' exclusivity." Uh huh.

Naturally, wheels aren't the only unique aspect of the M8's appearance. Front ends feature enlarged cooling ducts, gloss black trim, and so on. Hardtop models get standard carbon-fiber roof panels. There's also an optional M Carbon appearance pack that adds the lightweight weave to components like the grille kidneys, mirror caps and so on.

Interior differences versus other 8 Series models are limited to touches like unique sport seats with illuminated M badges and various trim bits.

BMW

The cabin looks to be similar to lesser 8 Series cars, which is just fine by us -- these new models have excellent interiors. Changes include M Sport seats with integrated illuminated headrest badges, and Competition models get unique seatbelts and contrast stitching.

As with other 8 Series models, there's a full battery of convenience and advanced safety features available, including BMW's much-improved iDrive infotainment system (accessed via 10.25-inch center screen and 12.3-inch gauge cluster), a large head-up display and available Extended Traffic Jam Assistant, a partially automated hands-on driving assistant designed to curb stress on limited-access highways at speeds up to 40 mph.

Production for this high-performance heavyweight duo begins in July.