2019 BMW M850i xDrive Convertible: Review

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience8 Series Returns
In 1990 BMW introduced a flagship sport coupe called the 8 Series. Sure, we’re dating ourselves a bit, but we had the opportunity to drive that V12-powered BMW back in the day — and with its sleek lines and pop-up headlights, it certainly turned heads. After a 20-year hiatus (the initial production ended in 1999), the 8 Series is back, taking its rightful place at the top of the BMW food chain. The V12 is gone, but the new twin-turbo V8 in the M850i offers considerably more power than its predecessor, and now the 8 line includes a convertible and all-wheel drive.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceFully Loaded
The BMW M850i comes fully loaded with a long list of standard equipment, although there are still plenty of optional extras. Our test car had a base price of $121,400 with an additional Driving Assistance Package, Drivers Assistance Pro Package, Glass Controls, Neck Warmer, Bowers & Wilkins sound system and Dravit Grey Metallic paint for a total MSRP of $131,995. Competitors to the 8 Series convertible include the Aston Martin DB11 Volante, Mercedes-Benz S-Class Cabriolet and the Bentley Continental GT Convertible — excellent company to keep.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceTwin-Turbo V8
The original 8 Series had a V12 that generated 322 horsepower; the new M850i with a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 produces 523 horsepower and 553 lb-ft of torque, and it makes a lovely sound as well. BMW claims this big car will reach 60 mph in 3.8 seconds, and after spending a few days behind the wheel, we see no reason to dispute this claim. Top speed is limited to 155 mph.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceComfort Mode
The M850i has two distinct personalities, selectable with the push of a button — what BMW calls the Driver Experience Control. In Comfort mode, the big BMW behaves like a proper cruiser with a quieter exhaust, smooth shifts and a silky smooth, comfortable ride — perfect for a long road trip down the coast.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceSport Mode
Select Sport or Sport + and the M850 takes on a different personality. Accelerator response gets quicker, and the exhaust immediately takes on a mean growl. Steering also is quicker, the suspension stiffens up, engine revs are held higher before shifts — up or down. But the most fun is deceleration; when the driver’s foot comes off the throttle, the result is a pleasing bark and burble of exhaust. Although the 8 Series has paddle shifters on the steering column for a more engaged experience, in Sport mode we found shifts happen just when we wanted (and the car needed) them, so we ended up simply letting the car do its thing.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceExcellent Handling
The new BMW 8 Series is not a small car, but it handles like one — in all the best ways. Acceleration is incredibly strong and with all-wheel drive as well as rear-wheel steering, the 8 Series is just as happy on a twisty road as it is cruising on the freeway.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceGreat Looks
The 8 Series still turns heads as it did 30 years ago, thanks to its low and wide stance, long hood and sleek lines. Top up or down, this new 8 Series is deserving of its flagship designation.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceComfortable Seats
Front seats are extremely comfortable and supportive with 20-way power adjustment and 4-way lumbar support as well as heating and cooling.

title="BMW M850i xDrive Convertible" Neck Warmer
For those cool days, there’s no reason to put the top up — front-seat occupants are soothed by neck warmers.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceCrystal Shifter
The centerpiece of the interior is a crystal shift lever. Although the touch of refinement might seem a bit over the top, this is a $130,000 car — it should be over the top.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceNo Turbulence
With the windows up and the top down, the BMW’s interior stays relatively quiet and still. We were able to carry on a hands-free phone conversation at highway speeds with the top down.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperiencePower Top
The fully-electric soft-top is fully insulated and easily raised or lowered with a single switch. The action takes a mere 15 seconds and can be raised or lowered at speeds up to 30 mph. Once lowered, the top is completely hidden below the rear deck. With the top down the interior is as quiet as a coupe.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceTight Rear Seat
The rear seat is stylish; however, front-seat passengers will need to limit their own legroom to make the rear seat usable for humans. It’s also a bit windy in back with the top down.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceLimited Trunk Space
The top stores completely out of sight, but it does consume a bit of trunk space in the process. The result is rather limited space for cargo. The rear seat can be folded flat for additional storage space.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceRating: 9.0
It took 20 years for BMW to bring back the top-level 8 Series, but the company did it right. With stylish lines, a luxurious cabin and plenty of power on tap, this new model certainly lives up to expectations. And with a 4-door Gran Coupe expected to join the coupe and convertible, and the inevitable high-performance M versions coming, this 8 Series should certainly outlast its predecessor — and perhaps outshine the competition — even in Dravit Grey Metallic.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceBMW M850i xDrive Convertible

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceBMW M850i xDrive Convertible

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceBMW M850i xDrive Convertible

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceBMW M850i xDrive Convertible

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceBMW M850i xDrive Convertible

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceBMW M850i xDrive Convertible

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceBMW M850i xDrive Convertible

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceBMW M850i xDrive Convertible

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceBMW M850i xDrive Convertible

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceBMW M850i xDrive Convertible

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceBMW M850i xDrive Convertible

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceBMW M850i xDrive Convertible

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceBMW M850i xDrive Convertible

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceBMW M850i xDrive Convertible

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