BMW 8-Series Research

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The Car Connection BMW 8-Series Overview

The BMW 8-Series returned to the German automaker's lineup for the 2019 model year, after a 21-year absence. Offered in coupe, convertible, and Gran Coupe four-door body styles, the 2020 8-Series has grown in size and price, with a range starting at $85,000 and ranging to more than $150,000. 

With the 8-Series, BMW replaces the former 6-Series family of two- and four-doors. For 2019, the 8-Series was offered as the M850i xDrive, with a metal roof or a fabric one. Both versions share a hippy, voluptuous style that does all it can to mask the massive two-door's size. Weighing in at between 4,400 and 4,700 pounds, the 2019 8-Series won't be body-shamed: It's a stunner, with a huge twin-nostril grille, thin LED headlights, deep side sculpting and a svelte tail, it wears a look sure to be timeless.

Power comes from a twin-turbo 4.4-liter V-8 engine, rated at 523 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque. That brute force goes through an 8-speed automatic to all four wheels. It's hefty, but that show of power means the 8-Series can reach 60 mph in 4.1 seconds, and can run to a 155-mph top speed. Electric power steering, an adaptive suspension, and meaty tires on staggered wheels give it tremendous grip and grand-touring ride quality.

Extravagantly adjustable front seats pair up with a very small pair of rear buckets in the new 8-Series. The trunk is very small, too. Fit and finish are stellar, and the 8-Series brandishes digital displays across its dash as standard equipment. It also gets automatic emergency braking and a surround-view camera system, a head-up display, leather upholstery, 20-inch wheels, and navigation. On the options list: Bowers & Wilkins premium audio, adaptive cruise control, and blind-spot monitors.

The power-folding soft-top convertible can lower in less than 15 seconds at speeds up to 30 mph. Cargo volume in the trunk drops from 14.8 cubic feet to 12.4 cubic feet in convertibles. It's also heavier, so not as quick, and adds $9,500 to any of the variants. 

MORE: Read our 2021 BMW 8-Series review

For 2020, BMW added base 840i and 840i xDrive all-wheel-drive models powered by a 335-hp 3.0-liter turbo-6 with the 8-speed automatic. The quickest of the bunch hits 60 mph in 4.4 seconds. The Gran Coupe 840i is the budget buy, starting at about $85,000. On the other end of the spectrum is the M8 ($133,995) and M8 Competition ($146,995). The twin-turbo V-87 is tuned to make 600-hp and 617 hp, respectively, and the all-wheel-drive beast can hit 60 mph in just 3.0 seconds. 

For 2021, BMW dropped the M8 coupe and convertible from the lineup.

BMW 8-Series history

Built from 1989-1999 worldwide, and sold during 1990-1997 model years in the U.S., the first-generation BMW 8-Series represented the height of style, luxury, and performance for BMW. As the brand's flagship grand tourer during its run, the 8-Series exemplified sleek, sporty looks and fierce power, and remains a sought-after example of the German brand's engineering today.

Ahead of its time in many ways, the 8-Series, or E31 as it was designated internally, was positioned above the less expensive, less powerful 6-Series, and as a result, saw relatively low production numbers despite its good looks and impressive powertrains. A total of just over 30,000 8-Series were built worldwide, with about 7,000 of those sent to North America.

Over the 8-Series' model run, a sequence of V-8 and V-12 engines were offered. At launch in the U.S., a 4.0-liter M60 V-8 was standard in the 840Ci, rated at 282 horsepower. Later in the model run, the 840Ci was updated to a new 4.4-liter M62 V-8 rated at the same 282 horsepower figure.

The V-12-powered 850i and 850Ci started with a 5.0-liter M70, rated at 296 horsepower, eventually upgrading (in 850Ci form) to the 322-horsepower 5.4-liter M73 V-12. The 850CSi offered from 1993-1995 used a 372-horsepower 5.6-liter S70 V-12. the 8-Series offered a range of 4- and 5-speed automatics and a six-speed manual transmission over its model run. It was also one of the first cars to be fitted with a "fly-by-wire" electronic throttle.

Despite the obvious focus on powertrains, the 8-Series was also about luxurious touring capabilities, rather than outright performance. Electronically controlled dampers, leather upholstery, heated electric-adjust seats, wood trim, a range of in-car phones (it was the '90s), and a range of M Division upgrades were available.

Since the early 2000s, the 8-Series has risen in collectibility, in part due to its low volume, but also due to its unique style and impressive (particularly in 850Csi V-12 form) engines and performance.

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