BMW promised us a more potent version of the 8 Series, and when the 2020 BMW M8 Competition Coupe arrived on home soil we couldn’t let the chance pass us by to spend even a mere 24 hours with it. On paper, the fiercest iteration of BMW’s striking coupe promise “near-supercar” performance but without sacrificing on any comfort. Here’s more from our experience and time with it.
BMW previewed the M8 close to three years ago, initially in the form of the race car version. Since then, the M8 GTE has gone on to hold up nicely in various global races, though in the process doing nothing to help impatient would-be owners from getting their hands on a production version.
Now, however, that has all changed. The 2020 M8 Competition Coupe uses a 4.4-liter S63 M TwinPower Turbo V8 engine.
The M8 Competition, has cranked its power number up to 470 kW, while slightly extending the top end of the peak torque band to 5,860 rpm. Top speed is electronically limited to 249 km/h, but can be extended to 305 km/h with the M Driver’s Package. Meanwhile, 0-100 km/h comes in 3.2 seconds.
The V8 is paired with an eight-speed M Steptronic transmission and M xDrive all-wheel drive. There are driver-selectable shift modes, spanning comfort through to sport and track, and the gearbox can take the upcoming route into account as it upshifts and downshifts. That way, BMW suggests, the transmission avoids unnecessary gear changes if, for instance, there are two corners coming up in rapid succession. We should’ve actually tested this in the Sabie hills.
Although its AWD, the car is rear-biased. A transfer case uses an electronically-controlled multi-plate clutch shift torque front to rear, with an Active M differential at the back to push power left and right. The front wheels only get torque when the rears are about to lose traction, making for a more RWD-like driving feeling and cutting down the number of times that the stability control will need to kick in.
Since that’s a lot of different tasks taken on by the drive mode system, BMW has added a single Setup button on the dashboard of the M8. Hit that, and it pulls up a screen to adjust engine, suspension, steering, braking, and AWD settings all in one place. An M Mode button, meanwhile, does something similar for the driver-assistance, cluster display, and head-up display which includes Track setting.
Outside, the M8 get larger cooling openings and black chrome vents, compared to the regular 8 Series. Icon Adaptive LED headlamps with Laserlight are standard, and the M8 Competition Coupe gets a carbon fibre roof. Our test model came fitted with the optional M Carbon package which replaces the standard exterior trim with carbon fibre instead.
But how does the car drive, really? It reacts pretty much like a tuned muscle car if you stab the throttle. As I said, the V8 imbibes the M8 Comp with a newfound sense of agility and sportiness. No doubt, the V8 feels sharper, more exuberant, and naughtier. This can also be attributed to the louder and raspier exhaust note BMW has worked on here. The eight-speed dual-clutch automatic keeps up nicely.
Step inside, and there’s the familiar M1 and M2 preset buttons first seen on the M5 on the leather steering wheel. The shift lever has been redesigned, and there are special M Sport seats and M seatbelts too.
Options include various driver assistance packages, which have adaptive cruise control, traffic jam assistance, lane departure warnings and blind spot detection, and more. The BMW Live Cockpit Professional – with a 12.3-inch instrument cluster display and a 10.25-inch centre touchscreen – is standard, with navigation and gesture control. Wireless charging and a WiFi hotspot are standard, too.
Overall, the M8 Competition amps up everything that the standard M8 does well, while delivering the highest level of torque, handling, and fun in this high-calibre segment. The 2020 M8 Competition Coupe is priced from R3,250,272.
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