2022 BMW M8 Competition Gran Coupé on test – The ultimate something machine

2022 BMW M8 Competition Gran Coupe

4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 (617 hp @ 6,000 rpm, 553 lb-ft @ 1,800 rpm)

Eight-speed automatic transmission, all-wheel drive

15 city / 21 highway / 17 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

16.1 city / 11.0 highway / 13.8 combined. (NRCan rating, L/100 km)

Base price: US$130,995 / CAN$157,701

As tested: $163,095 / $166,805 CAN

Prices include US$1000 destination fee in the United States and US$3201 for freight, PDI and air conditioning tax in Canada and cannot be compared directly due to cross-border fitment differences.

Can you be both overwhelmed and underwhelmed? Does the whelming rise and fall, leaving just the right amount of whelm? Or is there some kind of exponential curve leading to either an excess or deficit of whelmification?

The red squiggly lines provided by the good folks behind Microsoft Word tell me I’m pushing the boundaries of both language and reason here – but reason might not have been there when the folks in Munich saw this 2022 BMW M8 Competition Gran Coupé planned. Hell, we can argue about the language there too, considering the traditional definition of a coupe. But looking at the specs and the window decal can lead to conclusions that are occasionally not delivered when slipping behind the wheel, leading to my conundrum.

Six hundred and seventeen hp. Forget for a moment that some engineers in Auburn Hills stumbled across fifteen trailers full of superchargers a few years back and consider what that number means. The trio of unobtanium supercars that lined every kid’s room in the ’80s – the Porsche 959, the Ferrari F40 and the Lamborghini Countach – never produced more than five hundred horses. No modern kid hangs a poster of a BMW M8 on their walls, and yet this sedan (hell, it’s got four doors, I call it a sedan) can absolutely smoke any of those icons.

Sixty? Those publications that can afford to test gear generally cite 0-60 in under three seconds, with quarter-mile runs in the tens. Four-wheel drive coupled with that kind of power can certainly start hard, and during my week with the M8 Competition I’ve had a few rough starts here and there – where appropriate. I haven’t found a safe place to switch to rear-wheel drive mode, which seems to be best for drifting and other forms of making very expensive Michelin-scented smoke. Trust me, I would have loved to do it – I even spoke to an elderly gentleman at a flea market (my wife and I were childless on a Saturday morning) and asked me to – in his words – “light them” in the front of his house. I doubt his neighbors would have appreciated that.

Unlike many other new BMWs, the M8 Comp doesn’t look hideous. It’s also not a prime example of modern design, but I find it attractive from many angles. The view of the rear quarters is particularly appealing, with the low roofline falling over the hips of the rear fender line and then ending with the upward flourish of the duckbill spoiler. The signature dual-kidney grille is thankfully unaffected by the bilateral hydronephrosis that so clogs the face of the 4 Series and any number of BMW crossovers.

Interior comfort is pretty good, with decent front and rear legroom and hiproom. You’d think headroom would be compromised considering the “coupe” styling, but the only concern was actual ingress and egress, as my child banged his head a couple of times getting out of the rear seats. Interestingly, those rear seats allow for three side-by-side seating with a trio of seat belts — however, the unfortunate soul cursed for the middle will be perched on an uncomfortable hump adorned with seat-heater controls in their nether regions.

I’m getting used to the typical BMW infotainment system. Many other cars’ gestures have yet to be unlearned – as a half-German I’m familiar with the “Our way is right – everyone else is wrong” attitude that permeates both my paternal heritage and the control logic of iDrive. The 12.3-inch display is bright and clear, and inputs are snappy.

My problem with the M8 Competition comes when you don’t step on the loud pedal. In typical driving, it doesn’t feel special. It doesn’t feel like the supercar it really could be. Rather, it looks like a 5-sedan with firm suspension and large seat bolsters.

While there’s no question that it can be shockingly quick both off the line and around corners, the big Bimmer shows no joy in the way it coughs. The steering is light and uncommunicative. The suspension – no matter how the dynamic chassis setup is adjusted – doesn’t encourage me to push any harder.

Add that to the price—and the THIRTY THOUSAND DOLLARS options on my tester—and I’m struggling to find love for the big M8. I’m not sure who is buying this car. It’s not as plush as many other luxury sedans in this price range, nor is it as fun to drive as the sports cars you could spend the price of a small house on.

In short – the BMW M8 Competition Gran Coupé 2022 has impressive performance figures, but it doesn’t feel like it wants to.

While it’s sold by a brand that calls their vehicles the “Ultimate Driving Machine,” it doesn’t make me want to get out and drive.

That’s not the good kind of overwhelmed.

[Images: © 2022 Chris Tonn]

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