The M8 is BMW’s most powerful production car ever

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BMW just introduced the M8 Coupe and Convertible, the highest performance models in the Bavarian automaker’s M performance stable. Well, actually that’s not quite the case. Along with the 600-horsepower M8 Coupe and M8 Convertible, BMW will be offering the M8 Competition Coupe and M8 Competition Convertible versions, which have an upgraded 617-hp powerplant. Both versions have 553 lb-ft of torque.

All of the M8s are powered by direct injected, twin-turbo, 4.4-liter V-8s that BMW says is the most powerful production engine the company has ever made. Cross-bank exhaust manifolds along with mounting the turbochargers inside the V of the engine reduces turbo lag and increases thermal efficiency. A water-to-air intercooler gives the charge more punch and has its own cooling circuit. The main cooling system, for the engine and turbos, includes an auxiliary electric pump to circulate coolant to the turbochargers after the engine has been powered down. Engine and transmission oil coolers are said to be up to the rigors of track driving, and though the lubrication system isn’t dry-sumped, the oil pan has a secondary front chamber with its own scavenging pump to make sure there is always oil pressure, no matter the G-forces during cornering or acceleration.

BMW M8 Competition Coupe Exterior
BMW M8 Competition Coupe Exterior

BMW M8 Competition Coupe Side View

Competition models get the increased power and a wider torque band along with stiffer engine mounts, and an M Sport exhaust system with dual 4-inch tips. M Sound Control provides for selectable exhaust notes.

The only available transmission is an eight-speed M Steptronic, with a new selector lever in addition to the paddle shifters. The gearbox has both manual and automatic modes and the Drivelogic button allows for selection of either comfort or track-oriented shift modes. Also, information from the navigation system is coordinated with the transmission controls for predictive shifting for what’s ahead.

X Drive all-wheel-drive is standard. An electronically controlled transfer case splits torque fore and aft, while an active M differential controls the rear axle. The system is biased to the rear for more sporting handling, with the front wheels only getting power when the rears start to slip. Several driving modes are available, including 4WD, 4WD Sport (with even greater rear axle bias), and even a 2WD mode when the stability control is disabled.

BMW M8 Competition Convertible Exterior
BMW M8 Competition Convertible Exterior Detail

Zero to 60 mph times for the Competition models are 3.0 seconds for the coupe and 3.1 seconds for the convertible, with the regular M8 models coming in a tenth of a second slower. Top speed for all the M8s is an electronically limited 155 mph, though that can be increased to 189 mph with the optional M Driver’s Package that also includes tuition for M School driving instruction at one of the two BMW Performance Center driving schools, located in South Carolina and California.

The chassis has double wishbones up front and a five-link suspension in the back, with both suspensions mounted to subframes. The M models get stiffer bushings as well as swivel bearings and a reinforcing bar between the front struts. Adaptive M Suspension with electromagnetic dampers is standard equipment. There are three selectable suspension settings, Comfort, Sport, and Sport Plus, which BMW says is track capable. Competition models get stiffer suspension settings, the aforementioned stiffer engine mounts, more negative camber on the front wheels for better cornering, and ball-joints on the rear toe-links instead of rubber bushings for precise rear wheel tracking.

Speed-sensitive, variable-ratio M Servotronic power steering has both Comfort and Sport modes as does the braking system.

BMW M8 Competition Convertible Interior

All of the M8 models come with drilled and vented M compound brakes, with fixed, six-piston calipers up front and floating single-piston calipers in back. Ceramic brakes are an option. The M8s have the latest iteration of BMW’s integrated brake-by-wire system that is electrically assisted, for faster and more precise braking than with a vacuum boost. The brakes, too, have both Comfort and Sport modes to vary pedal response and feedback to the driver’s wishes.

The 20-inch M aluminum wheels are staggered, 9.5 inches wide in the front and 10.5 inches wide in the back, shod with 275/35R20 and 285/35R20 rubber respectively. Competition models get their own unique two-tone forged aluminum wheels with a milled 3D structure.

Exterior changes from the regular 8 Series cars include larger openings in the bumper for better cooling, black chrome kidney grille, and high gloss black side mirror housings, rear spoiler and diffuser. An optional M Carbon package gives those components in composite. Icon Adaptive LED headlights with Laserlight are standard.

The M8 models get a standard carbon-fiber roof, lowering the curb weight and the center of gravity. Convertible models have a multi-layer insulated roof that can retract in 15 seconds, and operates at up to 30 mph so you don’t have to stop to raise or lower the top.

BMW M8 Competition Convertible Exterior
BMW M8 Competition Convertible Interior

Inside is an M leather steering wheel with M shift paddles and programmable red M1 and M2 buttons for controlling the various selectable systems. M Sport seats with M badging that lights up are standard. Competition models get M seatbelts in BMW Motorsport colors. Carbon-fiber trim is standard, with a variety of optional wood trims available.

The M8 cars have a new setup button on the center console that can control all of the selectable engine, suspension, steering, and xDrive settings from one location. Previous M models had individual control buttons for selectable modes. A new M Mode button, also on the console, gives the driver control over driver assistance systems, the instrument display, and the Head-Up display. The M8 models have Road and Sport settings for instrumentation, while the Competition cars add a Track mode.

Pricing for the new 2020 M8 Coupe is $133,995 and $146,995 for the M8 Competition Coupe. The 2020 M8 Convertible is $143,495 and $156,495 for the M8 Competition Convertible, including destination charges. Sales begin immediately with production scheduled to begin in July of this year.

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