2021 BMW 8-Series
While it may not be the Ultimate Driving Machine, the 2021 BMW 8-series takes its role as a big, comfortable cruiser quite seriously. Offered in both hardtop coupe and ragtop convertible body styles, the 8-series delivers a cosseting cabin, a quiet ride, and enough panache to justify its princely price tag. Buyers can choose from either a silky-smooth twin-turbocharged inline-six in the 840i models or a punchy twin-turbo V-8 that makes 523-hp in the M850i. Cornering prowess isn’t up to the standards of BMW’s smaller and more focused sports coupes and sedans, but it holds its own nicely against similarly plush rivals such as the Lexus LC and the Mercedes-Benz S-class coupe and convertible. Like the look but need four doors? Check out the 8-series Gran Coupe, which we review separately. It’s the sporty one in the family.
What’s New for 2021?
Like several other BMW models this year, the 2021 8-series lineup receives SiriusXM satellite radio and lane-departure warning as standard across the lineup. Elsewhere, M Sport brakes with black calipers join the M Sport package though Sonic Speed Blue paint and the optional black Merino Leather upholstery are no longer available.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
BMW’s biggest coupe and convertible start off with a 335-hp twin-turbocharged inline-six-cylinder. These 840i models pair with an eight-speed automatic transmission and either rear- or all-wheel drive (called xDrive in BMW’s parlance). While we haven’t driven an 8 with the six-cylinder, BMW has built a reputation on silky smooth and responsive powertrains, so only speed freaks will likely be disappointed. Instead, we’ve driven both body styles of the M850i that feature a 523-hp twin-turbo V-8, eight-speed automatic, and standard all-wheel drive. This combination delivers impressive acceleration for the Bimmer’s size and provides a rich soundtrack in the sportiest setting. Likewise, the transmission transitions from relaxed to reactive based on the driver’s right foot. Most importantly, the 8-series delivers on its grand-touring promises, with a supremely quiet ride and surprising athleticism. Its steering feedback is direct and linear but filters out road imperfections and front-tire feedback. Although its adaptive dampers allow extra flexibility depending on the selected drive mode, they make the 8 remarkably stable during cornering in their stiffest setting. The car’s powerful brake system and firm pedal feel further enhance the feeling of absolute confidence.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
The 2021 8-series interior offers all the infotainment gadgetry and luxury features expected in a high-priced grand tourer. Every model has 14-way power-adjustable heated front seats, soft-close automatic doors, and customizable ambient lighting; more extravagant upgrades include glass control and additional high-end materials. It can even be outfitted with unique BMW Individual options, such as a fancy white-and-brown color scheme . Although it does offer a pair of vestigial rear seats, they’re not pleasant places for adults to spend time. The 8’s low roofline also impedes headroom in the front seat and outward visibility isn’t great, but that’s the price of fashion. Its interior cubby storage consists of a coverable tray at the front of the center console, a useful central bin, and adequate door pockets. We also managed to fit five carry-on bags in the coupe’s trunk and another six with the back seats stowed, but the convertible held one bagless in each scenario.