Auto Review

BMW M8 Competition Coupe Review

  • quick
  • Model spec: BMW M8 Competition Coupe
  • Price: £175745
  • Engine: 4.4L Twin-Turbo V8, Gasoline
  • Max Speed: 189
  • facts
  • 0-60: 3.2 seconds
  • BHP/Torque: 616 / 749
  • Economy: 25mpg combined
  • C02: 253g/km
  • Tax: 496/year

The BMW M8 Competition Coupe is the flagship two-door in the BMW stable. The 8 moniker first appeared in 1990 and ended in 1999. Nineteen years later, it returned as the 6 series replacement for the 2018 model year with the most powerful version being the M8 Competition Coupe. The first comment many make when seeing photos is that it looks like a Mustang. It does not look like a Mustang in person. They share a long hood and sloping rear to the trunk with a nearly identical greenhouse. But that is as far as it goes. It is 3” longer and sits .7” lower than the Mustang Bullitt I reviewed last year. It may not be easy to tell in photographs, but in person, the distinction is clear, even at a distance. The carbon-fiber roof visually contributes to a lower appearance.  

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It is a stunningly styled front-engine car, having a great presence, the curves contributing to a wide-body style appearance. A big grand tourer, it is not as luxury fixated as a more expensive Bentley but as this 2020 model sat at $175,745 including a $995 destination charge and $1000 gas guzzler tax, it is priced like an Audi R8 V10 or Porsche 911 Turbo non-S. Those cars do not blend in like an M8 would, let alone in a subtle black or silver. This seems to compete directly against the Mercedes AMG S 63 coupe, another well-styled GT.

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Now to get down to the essence. It was a privilege to drive this for a week even with the $5500 Java Green Metallic paint option. More suited to Italian mid-engine exotics, it is one option I could skip. I could not take it to a client meeting, it was just ostentatious. If it was black or silver, absolutely. Beyond that, driving it was an event. It is more like a German Hellcat than Pony Car. And it is just about as quick and fast despite a 100hp deficit of 617hp. That is allegedly 617hp.

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The hot-vee engine configuration, meaning the turbos are in the “V” where the intake manifold would normally be, contributes to fantastic throttle response. A great way to illustrate this is a rolling 5mph-60mph time measurement. The 3.5 second time of the M8 Competition Coupe is quicker than all the supercharged domestics that have significantly higher horsepower ratings.

Without any brake torque or launch control technique, a standing start from just pressing the accelerator can be brutal and glorious at the same time. That kind of acceleration shoves objects like wallets and phones deep into the door pockets where they are hard to retrieve. 

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All-wheel drive is the key but even in the rain wheelspin will occur in first and second gear. By the time you are in third gear, you are over the speed limit anyway and hard acceleration is moot. A dry but dusty surface combined with launch control will also break traction as evidenced by a Dragy test of 3.5 seconds 0-60mph and the quarter-mile in 11.2 seconds at 127mph. 

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The biggest complaint about the BMW M8 Competition often cited from other reviewers is the so-called feeling of “numbness”. A wrong choice of word. I call it isolated luxury.  If you expect a razor blade balance and sharp handling, that just does not happen with 4,251-pound weight and a front-engine layout without losing some broad appeal.

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The Carbon Core marking is readily noticed on the door sill, and it is shared with the 7-series. Actually consisting of carbon fiber reinforced plastic, or CFRP, it is found as structural members in the pillars, the roof supports, along the center tunnel, the package tray, in the sills, roof cross-members, etc.

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Sitting in the driver’s seat, all of the amenities one could ask for in a car are fully provided. Unfortunately, the high hood line that is required by European pedestrian safety standards (a crush zone between the hood and top of the engine) also means a dashboard that slopes upward to meet the windshield so outward forward visibility, while absolutely acceptable, is not great.

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It gets photographed by strangers on the road. I do not know if it was the color, the car itself, or both. But when driving the BMW M8 Competition, the experience takes your mind off the hue and is replaced by a mechanical overture. A nice rumble at start-up is nice as well as when driving unless the quiet mode is selected and it becomes rather tame. Contributing to the quietness are the triple-sealed doors. Perhaps they contribute to the so-called “numbness” as well.  

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Besides the “Oh my God” uttered from multiple passengers, many also complimented the seatbelts due to the red and blue stitching of the M series designation running the length of the strap. Sometimes it is just the small details. There are a lot of little things to learn in the user interface, with many configurable settings but this is the norm with premium vehicles. Another area BMW does well is the immediacy of access to the electronics. When you press the start button, the satellite radio immediately starts playing. There are no delays.

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There was chatter a couple years ago about artificial engine sounds being sent to the cabin by the speakers. When sitting in an M5 at the east coast BMW M School, windows up, in the rain, I could hear the engine of the M5. I knew then that there is some genuine sounds to be heard.

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The M8 is no different, my wife commenting how she could hear me going up and down the street a block away. Besides the excellent Bowers & Wilkins sound system, a $3,400 option with the always cool metal speaker grills generating sounds, is the cooldown fans. Again a comparison to the Hellcat Redeye, when pulling into the garage and after shutting off the car, the noise from the fans was very loud while cooling the turbos and engine. 

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The BMW M8 Competition has a firm ride, but I prefer to use the term “solid” instead for something this large and heavy. Bumps are heard and felt, but not crossing the, albeit personal, line of intrusiveness. It does handle well though, no reason to think any worse than the M5 which is part of the extended hot lap experience at the BMW M schools and those were great for their size.

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Complaints are few. Yes it is thirsty, but that is expected considering this vehicle is heavy and fast. It is naturally very expensive, but it carves out a niche where only a few exist. With that in mind I asked owners online what improvements they would like to see. Of course that opens the door to nitpicking but better parking cameras and massaging seats along with a seatbelt butler (brings the seatbelt to easier reach) were mentioned. I learned the Laser function of my last generation Valentine 1 radar detector needed disabling as it would continuously give false alerts.

I was so disappointed I had to let it go after a mostly wet week. While immensely capable in the rain, it just was not the same as when dry. Nevertheless, the experience will always be remembered.


Author BIO: Rob Eckaus

Rob is a long-time auto enthusiast and a graduate of AMG, Audi, BMW M, Bondurant, Exotics Racing, GT500 Track Tour, KTM X-Bow and SRT driving schools/events as well as a participant in hot lap sessions, drag racing, car events, and motorcycling. Rob is a member of the Western Automotive Journalists and the Motor Press Guild.

Besides a contributor to The Truth About Cars and prior to that, The Auto Channel, his blog is Barely Streetable at Blogspot and his social media handle is Barely Streetable on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter & YouTube


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