One car to rule them all. That’s the concept of the BMW M850i Gran Coupe in our eyes. Much like the X6 M50i we reviewed recently, the M850i Gran Coupe aims to combine sport with utility for the ultimate no compromise BMW. However where the X6 M50i didn’t quite live up to the sport end of that equation, the M850i Gran Coupe delivers in spades. But can it deliver in all the other aspects such as luxury, comfort and technology? Can it be that mythical one car that does it all?
Every BMW M850i Gran Coupe review has to start with the look and let this one be no exception. This is a gorgeous car and one that rights some of the wrongs that BMW created with its predecessor the 6 Series Gran Coupe. There’s both more elegance and aggression in its shape. And there are details here that make this car feel more special than just an elongated 8 Series with a pair of extra doors. The rear hips and the way the Hofmeister kink folds itself into the belt line is particularly well executed.
The net of adding two doors, a longer wheelbase and more width is also a decidedly larger car than the 8 Series coupe. BMW hides elements of that mass with beautiful sculpted rear flanks while celebrating the length and low-slung design. The result is a car that looks elegant in shape despite its length. Naturally the other result is added weight – 300 lbs. The Drivetrain is the well know combination of BMW’s 523 hp 4.4 liter BMW M Performance TwinPower Turbo V-8, xDrive and the revised 8 speed ZF automatic. We’ve tested this exact combination in the X5 and X6 M50i earlier this year and in this application there’s almost 400 lbs less to lug around. That gives the M850i crushing performance – especially for a non-M product.
BMW quotes a 0-60 time of 3.7 seconds but in the real world the M850i felt faster than that. The torque is immediate, the grip unrelenting and the 8 speed ZF auto is appropriately Germanic in its precision.
While the four door “coupe” version of the M850i adds almost 300 lbs over the two door coupe, the real world performance doesn’t suffer and the experience is quite similar on the road. If anything, the M850i Gran Coupe presents a more compelling grand touring package with a longer wheelbase that delivers a isolated comfortable ride. Despite the weight the four door M850i feels effortless in its performance while being entirely composed over the worst roads the midwest has to offer.
It starts with the suspension which has been evolved from the standard double wishbones up front and the multi-link in the rear. Interestingly BMW has opted not to offer the air suspension found on 6 and 7 Series but instead gone with standard steel units. On paper its an interesting choice but in practice what you get is a car that manages to excel in almost every situation without the complexity (and cost) of an air system. The downside is that there are moments when you sense the heft of the M850i on backroads of questionable quality or even on high speed sweepers. But then again, if you’re consistently reaching that limit, you’ve chosen the wrong car.
Our BMW M850i Gran Coupe came equipped with just about everything you could want in a GT car sans massaging seats. The only overly egregious option was the $4,100 exterior carbon fiber package which adds nothing in the way of performance (the plastic it replaces was already pretty light) and just makes you more worried when parking.
The other end of the spectrum is BMW’s recently upgraded Drivers Assistance Pro Package which has finally becoming a compelling autonomous option. The package now includes automated lane changes which works intuitively by pressing the turn signal while the system is engaged. Then there’s the back-up assist and automated parking that, unlike systems of the past, is actually easy to use and operates with a level of ease and efficiency that makes you actually trust it. That last point of course being key to actual adoption of any technology – especially something that you trust your life with.
The M850i is powered by the latest iDrive 7 and a smallish (by 2020 standards) 12.3″ wide screen in its center stack and a full digital cluster behind the wheel. If it all sounds very digital you’d be right. But this is still a machine that begs to be driven rather than piloted.
If You Could Only Have One Car…
We asked this question last year when we reviewed the Coupe version of the M850i. In that scenario we came incredibly impressed but not sure if a two door GT car could be that answer. However here, with the added doors, interior space and comport, BMW makes a valid case.
As fast as the M850i can ease into triple digits, it can also coast into suppleness and tech-drive comfort. Such is its ability to pile on the miles that you almost forget about it’s sporting credentials. Until you squeeze the throttle or hit an on-ramp. The M850i has been thoroughly massaged by the M Division – more than any M Performance product before it. The result is the highest performing non-M BMW of all time in two door and now four door form.
Where this package of 523 hp and all-wheel drive felt like a blunt instrument in the smaller two door, it feels more appropriate here. With the longer wheelbase evening the experience out a bit, the M850i Gran Coupe threads the needle more successfully than any M Performance product yet. All of this makes the M850i Gran Coupe an incredible car with more performance than any road requires and enough comfort and technology to coddle the most jaded luxury car buyer.
Is this the one car to rule them all? For the modern BMW enthusiast looking for that duality of performance and everyday comfort, the M850 Gran Coupe delivers it all without sacrifice.