2019 BMW 8 Series Convertible first drive review: Open-top hustler

    National Road 124 runs by way of Portugal’s Montes Novos area, and it is a near-perfect stretch of pavement for automotive testing. Located 45 minutes to the northeast of Faro, it not solely provides attractive mountain and valley views, however extra importantly, a massively entertaining mixture of straightaways and corners that may put a automobile by way of its paces. It’s the form of street you’d dream about driving in a Mazda MX-5 Miata, Porsche 718 Boxster or another nimble, topless sports activities automotive. Yet my steed for immediately’s take a look at is one thing a lot, a lot bigger.The 2019 BMW M850i Convertible is an enormous automotive. It’s lengthy and huge, and weighs in at a considerable 4,736 kilos (258 greater than an M850i Coupe). Managing editor Steven Ewing praised the 8 Series Coupe’s on-track efficiency final yr, however I’ve my doubts about this large-and-in-charge convertible on such a technical backroad. Happily, my skepticism is put to mattress after solely a few corners.It’s a runnerWith the M850i Convertible in Sport Plus mode, cranking the steering wheel in both course is met with close to instant flip in, good weight and precise suggestions by way of the wheel, letting precisely what the Bridgestone Potenza S007 tires are as much as. Frankly, the communicative steering is downright refreshing — many current BMWs have been missing on this space.In virtually each state of affairs, the convertible hardly feels out of kinds because of its rock-solid chassis, the Adaptive M suspension solely giving strategy to a contact of physique roll. There’s loads of grip with my take a look at automotive’s 20-inch wheel and tire bundle, serving to to maintain issues surefooted. That’s to not say the massive convertible by no means plows by way of corners — it can if pushed, or in the event you’re driving like a buffoon. But for many spirited street driving, commonplace hardware like rear-biased all-wheel drive, rear-wheel steering and a torque-vectoring rear differential do an virtually magical job of snuffing out understeer and masking the hefty curb weight.Power is one more reason the M850i feels lighter than it’s. A 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8 brings 523 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque to the social gathering. The latter is offered between 1,800-4,600 rpm for critical, lag-free giddy-up off the road, or whereas exiting bends. The M850i Convertible will hit 60 miles per hour in a BMW-estimated 3.8 seconds. That’s a contact slower than the (a lot lighter) Coupe’s 3.6-second dash, however one of many advantages of the convertible is that the pleasing, bassy exhaust growl is less complicated to listen to with the highest down. That clearer soundtrack is well worth the tradeoff of a barely slower acceleration time.With a 523-horsepower turbo V8, the M850i convertible isn’t any slouch.
    Jon Wong/Roadshow
    A ZF-sourced eight-speed computerized transmission bolts to the V8, offering excellently timed gear adjustments. The handbook shift paddles are pretty responsive, to not point out satisfying to make use of. Together, the drivetrain combo is estimated to return 17 miles per gallon within the metropolis and 26 mpg on the freeway.The drop-top life   That the M850i Convertible continues to be greater than as much as the duty of confidently blazing by way of tough stretches of street is nice, however let’s be trustworthy, this factor’s extra of a grand tourer. For that, it is nonetheless a winner. The multilayer cloth roof does an ideal job insulating the cabin from wind and street noise when up, and creates a nonetheless enticing silhouette besides. In simply 15 seconds, the highest goes down on the push of a button, and will be operated at speeds as much as 30 mph. With the highest stowed, the massive 8 appears to be like beautiful, with its huge stance and flowing physique traces. There’s some visible perspective, too, with aggressive bumpers, a steeply raked windshield and comely decklid. Inside, every thing feels premium, with smooth leathers on the sprint, door panels and seats, and there is a tasteful slathering of flashy bits like a glass shift knob. There’s not an affordable wanting floor wherever.The bumpers and steeply raked windshield give the drop-top M850i some perspective.
    Jon Wong/Roadshow
    The seats themselves characteristic each ample aspect bolstering for arduous driving, and assist in all the appropriate locations to maintain folks cozy for lengthy hauls. Wind buffeting is not a difficulty at pace, both, with the fold-up deflector permitting me and my co-driver to converse with out screaming at one another. The solely inside hiccup is the tighter backseat: it is easy sufficient to get out and in of (with the highest down), however legroom is in very quick provide. For cruising, placing the M850i in Comfort mode is the ticket to simmer down the drivetrain and soften the chassis. Throttle response is not as jumpy, the steering lightens and the suspension is extra forgiving. It’s actually not as soft as, say, a Mercedes-Benz E-Class or S-Class convertible, but it surely’s completely compliant for each day driving. Top-notch techCompleting this contemporary grand tourer bundle is a heavy serving to of expertise. Quarterbacking infotainment is the newest BMW iDrive 7 software program managed by a responsive 10.2-inch touchscreen or redundant controls on the middle console. The system options crisp graphics and intuitive menus for navigation, a 12-speaker Bowers & Wilkins encompass sound setup, Wi-Fi hotspot and Bluetooth. One yr of Apple CarPlay functionality is commonplace challenge in the event you aren’t an iDrive fan, although BMW will make you pay a subscription charge to make use of it afterward, which stays a head scratcher. (Android Auto, in the meantime, is nowhere to be discovered.) Gesture controls are additionally included, enabling you to regulate quantity or settle for and decline cellphone calls with hand motions. I do know, it is a gimmick, but it surely works surprisingly nicely.BMW iDrive 7 continues to be its good, feature-rich self.
    Jon Wong/Roadshow
    A sturdy listing of driver-assist tech is offered bundled right into a $1,700 Driver Assistant Professional Package. Checking that field on the construct sheet provides adaptive cruise management with stop-and-go performance, lane departure warning with lane-keep help, and BMW’s Extended Traffic Assistant system for partially automated, hands-on-the-wheel driving. If you do not pony up for the bundle, all 8 Series Convertibles nonetheless include collision and pedestrian warning with computerized braking, computerized Parking Assistant, a head-up show and a 360-degree digicam.A do-it-all GT convertibleLike the Coupe, the 2019 BMW M850i Convertible does not actually have a direct competitor. Its $121,400 base worth, not together with $995 for vacation spot, makes it extra inexpensive than the bigger, extra luxurious and costlier ($134,300) Mercedes-Benz S560 Cabriolet. From a sizing standpoint, the 8 Series is nearer to the E-Class Cabriolet that, in its most potent E53 AMG type, is not as highly effective or costly, with 429 horsepower and an $80,350 price ticket. Possibly probably the most full convertible GT on sale immediately.
    Jon Wong/Roadshow
    One may presumably look to the brand new 2020 Porsche 911 Carrera 4S Cabriolet to match the Bimmer’s sportier persona. The challenge there’s that the $134,650 base worth is a good bit richer for a automotive that does not pack the identical degree of ordinary content material, energy or luxurious fixings.With that stated, the M850i Convertible actually does exist by itself island within the automotive world. It packs a brutal degree of energy, top-shelf cornering reflexes and a unbelievable, luxurious trip. On high of that, it is enticing and provides a bevy of tech tools. It would possibly simply be probably the most full GT drop-top out there this aspect of the Bentley Continental GT.

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