2023 BMW M850i xDrive Coupe Review

German Muscle.

By Kunal Dsouza Wheels.ca

Sep 1, 2023 5 min. read

Article was updated a month ago

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Personal luxury coupes like the 8 Series weren’t very common in the 90s and are even less so today. The original BMW 8 Series sold from 1990 to 1999 was a big, powerful, and luxurious grand touring coupe for customers with deep pockets and a penchant for long-distance driving. When the badge was revived two decades later, the formula remained the same, minus the V12 and pop-up headlights.

The current BMW M850i Coupe has been on sale since 2018 but there just aren’t many on the roads. Porsche 911s are a far more common sight. But for those who can afford it, the 8 Series represents a near-perfect execution of mechanical exuberance and utter comfort. Something that BMW is very, very good at.

2023 BMW M850i xDrive Coupe

The Santorini Blue example parked in my driveway is imposing. It’s long, low, and wide, an exotic combination. If BMW set out to build its own version of the Ford Mustang, they’d end up with this M850i Coupe. The bimmer is bigger and softer, but the long hood and short rear deck with muscular fenders is textbook muscle car.

There’s muscle under the hood too. The 4.4L twin-turbocharged V8 produces an M-car-like 523 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque managed by an 8-speed automatic gearbox. BMW’s rear-biased all-wheel drive system ensures that the front wheels only engage when extra traction is needed, so the M850i is essentially rear-driven most of the time.

2023 BMW M850i xDrive Coupe

Inside, the driver-centric dashboard is elegantly styled and offers a good balance of virtual and physical controls including the iDrive controller which continues to be a safer way to interact with all the tech in cars while on the move. Being a range-topping 8-Series, everything is covered in soft-supple leather. Turn the seat heaters on and the armrests warm up too. There’s a wealth of space for you and your lucky passenger. There are rear seats but they should be considered vestigial at best. Perfect for extra luggage. The big front thrones coddle as well as they support, and hours-long stints end in fatigue-free rest stops.

Getting down to business, for me, means selecting the sportiest Sport Plus driving mode. This enables the quickest gear changes, the most sensitive throttle response, and the firmest steering and damping. It also opens up the mufflers letting out all sorts of rude noises.

2023 BMW M850i xDrive Coupe

Punch the accelerator and the great big hood of the M850i rises up as it catapults forward like a cigarette boat, emitting a guttural bellow the likes of which could only come from a marriage of brute force and sophisticated engineering. The force-fed V8 is a free-revving jewel of a powerplant with effortless power delivery aided by laser-quick shifts from the ZF 8-speed autobox. It’s enough to launch the M850i to 100 km/h in just 3.7 seconds. With that much power and torque, the bonkers 617-hp M8 just seems unnecessary.

The M850i has pinned down the perfect balance of ride and handling. It’s a big heavy car but 4-wheel steering helps mask its girth in the corners. In Sport Plus mode it's a big playful hooligan. It moves around slightly at speed, a consequence of weighing over 2 tons and the steering doesn’t deliver the clearest of messages to your palms but it’s nicely weighted and you never lose that sense of control. With intense torque delivery lying in wait to mutilate rear tires at a moment’s notice, corner exits require patience before you mash the throttle. The all-wheel drive system will allow some tail-wagging histrionics before the traction nannies slap you on the wrist and bring you back down to earth. The M850i is genuinely fun to drive and with its comfortable ride and huge trunk, it’s a car that’s easy to live with every day.

You also don’t have to crank up all the settings to max to get enjoyment out of the M850i. This is a car that’s just as content crushing miles on the freeway in the Comfort setting as it is storming craggy mountain passes in full attack Sport mode.

2023 BMW M850i xDrive Coupe

2023 BMW M850i xDrive Coupe

I fully understood the M850i on the open road. From its cosseting seats and an endless reserve of torque at your right foot, to the symphonic delights delivered by the $4900 Bower and Wilkins Diamond Surround Sound system, few cars deliver a grand touring experience this complete without shelling out nearly twice as much on a Bentley or Rolls-Royce.

It’s such a good car, you’d think there’d be more of them kicking around but then you think about what the car is and the small production numbers make sense. While it’s a relative bargain, few can justify garage space for what’s essentially a $137,650 toy. There’s also the Porsche 911 question, which isn’t a grand touring car per se, but one that works just as well for a younger clientele as it does for the well-heeled retirees more likely to thumb the brochure of this M850i.

As an ultimate expression of the best of BMW's worlds of sport and luxury, this M850i is a triumph. Better balanced than the balls-to-the-wall M8 but no less of an event to drive. It's a car that doesn’t really offer much of a business case for bolstering company coffers but it is instead a showcase of BMW’s best bits of the internal combustion era. For those who aren’t interested in a Porsche 911, a BMW M850i remains an excellent choice.

2023 BMW M850i xDrive Coupe

BODY STYLE:- 2+2 passenger, 2 door coupe

CONFIGURATION: Front-engine, all-wheel drive

ENGINE: 4.4-L twin-turbocharged V8; Power: 523 hp @5500-6000 rpm; 553 lb-ft @1800-4600 rpm

TRANSMISSION : 8-speed automatic

FUEL ECONOMY: (Premium Gasoline in L/100 km): 14.1 city; 9.9 highway; 12.2 combined

CARGO CAPACITY: 420 litres

PRICE: $ 119,900 (base); $137,650 (as-tested) price does not include taxes and fees.



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