When you get a car like the first-ever M8 Coupe, for a couple of days, what do you do? You plan a short trip. Hence we zeroed in on Alibaug since the M2M ferry ride with the M8 was an exciting proposition, and we had an invitation from my friend Devita Saraf who owns Vu Televisions for her 85-inch Armani clad TV launch. They called and she promised me we could shoot anywhere in the artistic villa where the launch was taking place. Just like you are always in search of water in the desert, we are forever looking for backdrops, clean roads to drive, and something new. So this kind of invitation was tempting and we booked our seats on the M2M ferry. But we didn’t read the finer lines, unfortunately (more of that later.) The M8 is such an exclusive car that when you go to book online amongst the choices of cars under BMW, it has everything including M2 but not M8! Anyway, the ferry starts at 7.30 am from Mumbai to Mandwa [a port of Alibaug] and you have to reach 30 mins earlier.
That’s what we missed and then we tossed a coin and chose heads to take the roads, and heads it was. As they say, when you start your voyage, you do not return unfinished. Later, we realized the pathetic state of roads towards Alibaug will test our maneuvering skills and mind control to the fullest and we literally had to pull over, measure the craters and anticipate the ground clearance with our imaginary inch tape, step back inside and glide over it, without any ground touches that is. Imagine when you are strapped inside a machine that has 600 horses under it and you are driving at 15-20 Kmph for a bad patch of stretch, you will just be cursing heavens up for everything. This makes me give the judgment that the ground clearance of M8 which is 128 mm (About 5 inches) and is lesser than the Lamborghini Huracan Evo RWD which is 135mm, but slightly higher than the Ferrari Portofino which is 120 mm can surprisingly make its way through our specially pothole-riddled Indian roads. And they say supercars are not practical!
Now let’s get the context: in 10 -20 years when roads will be silently driven by the onslaught of electric cars, there are some cars that will bring internal combustion engines (ICE) back from the grave. One of them is the BMW M8 Coupe. 600 HP and 750 Nm torque makes it a complete animal and also the most expensive BMW M car in the market. The M8 Coupe is a car that rides beautifully, offers plenty of usabilities, and is technically super-skilled, but still, it doesn’t thrill me as much as the Audi RS7 Sportback did. But there is something about the M8 that mesmerizes you and goes beyond its shortcomings especially the rear two seats. The Exhaust noise which is an aural delight and the way it is designed, it’s a stunner of a machine, which on roads gets the “neck swivelled” attention. Also, the RS7 has a ground clearance of 109 mm, which means there would be a blood bath with underbelly scraped by the rough patch underneath and we could have literally been scooping stones and sand on the roads to Alibaug.
The M8 Coupe is available in the country as a completely built-up unit. The vehicle body looks more powerful, refined, and luscious with the sportiness that is typical to BMW. It is the petrol variant in the M8 lineup and is priced at `2.15 Crore (ex-showroom). So, if you want to buy an M8 Coupe, double-check on your accounts and obligations and don’t ever drive it to the Income-tax office which you can do with the Audi RS7 Sportback and keep it parked there and gallop to 0-100 in 3.6 seconds. The M8 can do that in 3.3 seconds but won’t be a silent process.
The M8’s muscular lines are broad enough to threaten all the cars from the highway, at 4,867 mm long and 1,907 mm wide, it’s quite a large coupe, and yes, it’s weighty- 1,955 kg; it has aggressive bumpers, two exhaust pipes, new alloy wheels, and the version we were given had 20-inch profile tyres, normal is 19-inch.
The large, extended hood and tight-fitting roof raise its charm and grab your attention. It is available with an automatic (torque converter) transmission and offered in 6 colours. Gray being the most boring until you step on the pedal. It has a small number of precisely drawn lines and sweeping surfaces which is modern and aerodynamic. The slim twin LED headlights on either side of the BMW kidney grille, encapsulate the focused look reminiscent of BMW stablemates past and present. The athletically sculpted rear wheel arches and flared shoulders flow into a powerful rear end, whose width is emphasized by vertically stacked reflectors. On the rear, there are trademark quad-pipes of all M models and a glossy black rear overskirt.
Inside the M8
The interior design is a harmonious blend of racing flair and luxury ambiance. The M8’s every little part is luxurious as you’d expect from a Rs 2 crore car. But it will also remind you that the newly launched 2 series also has the same interiors and the instrument cluster, which is where I have a problem. In a flagship car, you need flagship interiors and not homogenous interiors which cut across all range of cars. Period.
In trademark M style, there are red strokes on the start/stop button and the M leather steering wheel’s M buttons. The interior also features an eye-catching cutout with integrated “waterfall” lighting for additional emphasis. The standard interior trim strips in Carbon Fibre also accentuate the high-performance models’ sportscar feel. The M Sport seats, M leather steering wheel, M specific displays in the instrument cluster, and ergonomically optimized arrangement of all controls give the driver everything they need to enjoy an exciting driving experience. An interactive head-up display and a 12.3-inch device cluster; While the dual-zone climate control, an easy-to-use 10.25-inch infotainment screen, and Harman Kardon 16-speaker audio system will keep you smiling. Apple CarPlay, No Android – Again (strange), SiriusXM with HD Radio, a 32GB drive, two USB ports, and WiFi with voice-activated nav is available as standard.
Bowers & Wilkins Diamond surround sound system is optionally available only with the flagship model, which is the one we had. It has only 6 colours of ambient lighting, and none of them suits its two-tone interior. The position of the USB cable port is a little bit awkward when the USB is connected with some other device, it’s not easy to get your phone back from the wireless charging pad, it snugs most of the time. The M Mode button on the centre console making its debut in the new BMW M8 Coupe can be used to alter both the responses of the driver assistance systems and the information shown in the instrument cluster and Head-Up Display. A simple press of the M Mode button engages the SPORT setting, in which the active driver assistance systems now can transmit alerts on speed limits and overtaking restrictions. The digital drive display is not visually clear and sometimes you miss the much-needed information because of its dark tone nature and satellite navigation is not as accurate as google maps and it can lead you to unwanted roads.
The M8 technically has four seats, but the rear seats are supremely compromised by the slanted roofline, and a wheelbase shorter than the old M6. Alcantara and leather encapsulate all occupants, but those in the rear would definitely prefer to sit in an Audi RS7, and it would look like a limousine in comparison. No legroom and headroom; it’s best for toddlers or pre-teens at best! Meanwhile, the front seats are magical, the driver and front-seat passenger will have a roomy cabin space adorned with extrinsic elements and ambient lighting. Getting in and out of the front seats is easy, indeed for the driver, as the steering wheel will automatically elevate itself out of the way of your knees when you unlock the door or shut off the engine. Sweet. The boot offers 420 litres of boot space and comes along with automatic tailgate operation of the tailgate as standard. The trunk in the M8 is simply huge for this class and can swallow a pair of suitcases. In the cabin, the glovebox will easily contain a few necessary things, and the door cards can fit a couple of water bottles. There are a pair of cupholders in the centre console and another two slots in the back seating area.
Performance – It’s a wild child The M8’s 4.4-litre V8 is identical to the one found in the M5, and a development of the motor from the M850i, housing a pair of turbochargers within the V of the engine’s banks, improving responsiveness and shortening consumption and exhaust piping. The first-ever model draws the potential for its outstanding performance from the most powerful engine. The high-revving V8 unit with M TwinPower Turbo technology develops 441 kW/600 HP in the all-new BMW M8 Coupe, with 600 HP, acceleration in any gear, at any speed, is powerful and smooth. The high and rich performance power unit teams up with an eight-speed M Steptronic transmission with Drivelogic, and the engine’s power is channelled to the road via the M xDrive all-wheel-drive system. The default mode in the M8 is the four-wheel-drive, which is good for maximum traction and control driving, but the four-wheel-drive sport mode turns M8 into a more wicked car. Here, the system transfers the maximum slice of the engine power to the rear wheels and which is what you need for control drifting, but when you deactivate the DCS mode that’s when it allows you to convert this into a ballistic rear-wheel-drive and converts the M8 into a monster.
The usual M8 also features dynamic damper control to soak up road imperfections and pockmarks, brake drying for increased wet-weather stopping power, brake-fade compensation, and cornering brake control systems alongside a standard active differential that takes more than just available grip into account to get the big-body coupe through turns more efficiently. The engine stock is distributed between the front and the rear wheels, and it is fully variable using the transfer case electronically controlled multi-plate clutch before the active M differential splits it again between the two rear wheels as appropriate. It’s basically a four-wheel-drive, a rear-wheel-drive, and front-wheel-drive all rolled into one for a better drift, glide, and rev. The new chassis technology clubbed with BMW M xDrive offers the variable distribution of the drive torque between the front and rear wheels. It also helps in optimized friction and driving durability depending on road surfaces. Overall, this is a brilliant and spacious powerboat, just not an analog sprinter, and can manage Indian roads better than the RS7. The Last Words The M8 Coupe is an exciting package, you can only have it with other cars in your garage and not just the solo one. It scores over the RS7 on ground clearance and performance on road and is quicker than the RS7 with an exhaust noise which is an aural delight. But the RS7 is a practical performance car, a proper five-seater, and can be the only car parked in your garage.
Price: 2.15 crore onwards (ex-showroom)
Engine: 4.4-litre, V8 twin-turbocharged
Gearbox: 750Nm 8-speed automatic
0-100kph: 3.3 secs