2022 BMW M8 Competition Gran Coupe
4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8 (617hp @ 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/100km)
Base Price: $130,995 US / $157,701 CAN
As Tested: $163,095 US / $166,805 CAN
Prices include $1000 destination charge in the United States and $3201 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can’t be directly compared.
Is it possible to be both overwhelmed and underwhelmed? Does the whelming up and down cancel itself out, leaving one with just the right amount of whelm? Or is there some sort of exponential curve, resulting in either a surplus or deficit of whelmification?
The red squiggly lines provided by the good people behind Microsoft Word tell me that I’m stretching the bounds of both language and reason here – but reason may not have been in the room when the folks in Munich plotted this 2022 BMW M8 Competition Gran Coupe. Heck, we can quibble on the language there, too, when considering the traditional definition of a coupe. But looking at the specs and the window sticker can lead one to conclusions that are occasionally not delivered upon slipping behind the wheel, thus leading to my conundrum.
Six hundred and seventeen horsepower. Forget for a moment that some engineers in Auburn Hills stumbled upon fifteen trailers full of superchargers a few years back and consider what that number represents. The trio of unobtanium supercars that lined every kid’s bedroom walls in the Eighties – the Porsche 959, Ferrari F40, and Lamborghini Countach – never produced more than five hundred horses. No modern kid is putting a poster of a BMW M8 on their walls, and yet this sedan (dammit, it has four doors I’m calling it a sedan) can absolutely smoke any of those icons.
Sixty? The publications that can afford testing gear are generally quoting 0-60 in under three seconds, with quarter-mile runs in the tens. All-wheel drive paired with that kind of power can certainly launch hard, and in my week with the M8 Competition, I did enjoy a few raucous starts here and there – where appropriate. I didn’t find a safe place to switch into the rear-drive mode, seemingly best for drifting and other forms of making very expensive Michelin-scented smoke. Trust me, I’d have loved to – I even spoke to an older gentleman at a garage sale (my wife and I were child-free one Saturday morning) ask me to – in his words – “light ‘em up” in front of his house. I doubt his neighbors would have appreciated it.
Unlike many other new BMWs, the M8 Comp doesn’t look hideous. Neither is it a paragon of modern design, but I do feel it’s attractive from many angles. The rear quarter view is especially appealing, with the low-slung roofline drooping over the haunches of the rear fender line, then finishing with the upturned flourish of the duckbill spoiler. The signature twin-kidney grille is thankfully not afflicted with the bilateral hydronephrosis so engorging the face of the 4-series and any number of BMW crossovers.
Interior comfort is quite good, with decent leg and hip room front and rear. You’d think that headroom would be compromised considering the “coupe” styling, but the only concern was with the actual ingress/egress, as my kid whacked her head upon exiting the rear seats a couple of times. Those rear seats, interestingly, allow for three-abreast seating with a trio of seatbelts – however, the unlucky soul cursed for the middle will be straddling an uncomfortable hump festooned with controls for seat heating in their nether regions.
I’m getting more and more used to the typical BMW infotainment system. It still takes some unlearning of gestures found in many other cars – as I’m half-German I’m all too familiar with the attitude of “our way is right – all others are wrong” 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 issue with the M8 Competition comes when you aren’t stomping on the loud pedal. In most typical driving, it doesn’t feel special. It doesn’t feel like it’s the supercar that it really could be. Rather, it seems as if it’s a 5-series sedan with a firm suspension and big seat bolsters.
While there’s no question it can be frighteningly quick both off the line and around the bends, the big Bimmer reveals no joy in the way it hustles. The steering is light and uncommunicative. The suspension – no matter how the dynamic suspension adjustments are tweaked – doesn’t encourage me to push any harder.
Add that to the price – and the THIRTY THOUSAND DOLLARS worth of options on my tester – and I’m struggling to find the love for the big M8. I’m not really sure who buys 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 for which you could spend the price of a small house.
In short – while the 2022 BMW M8 Competition Gran Coupe can put up some impressive performance numbers, it doesn’t feel like it wants to.
It may be sold by a brand that dubs its vehicles the “Ultimate Driving Machine”, but it doesn’t make me want to get out and drive.
That’s not the good kind of whelmed.
[Images: © 2022 Chris Tonn]
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