2020 BMW M850i xDrive Gran Coupe: BMW Group Test Fest

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Experienced by Kimatni D Rawlins

According to BMW, the “Most Powerful Letter in the World” is “M,” so I patiently awaited my turn to take the mighty 2020 M8 Convertible and Coupe, the active 2020 X6 M50i, and the pleasantly stimulating 2020 M850i xDrive Gran Coupe out for spins. Like an automotive buffet, there were over 80 Bimmers, MINIs, and Rolls-Royces available to test drive during the BMW Group Test Fest at the BMW Performance Center East in South Carolina this past week.

For the automotive journalists in attendance, like myself, the occasion was akin to kids at Disney World, where you literally become overwhelmed with exhilaration. On-site, I also was able to evaluate additional M vehicles such as the X4 M Competition, X3 M Competition, Z4 M 40i, M340i, X7 M 50i, X5 M 50i, M8 Competition Coupe, and the M2 Competition to name a few. Some were set up for the track, but BMW allocated most of the vehicles for public roads.

To begin my Ultimate Driving Machine experience, I set my sites on a Mineral White Metallic 2020 BMW M850i xDrive Gran Coupe with a beautiful Night Blue/Black Merino Leather interior. I’ve always been a fan of 4-door coupes ever since Mercedes-Benz hit the scene with the breathtaking CLS. Then the mania took off and created a unique set of demands from auto connoisseurs. Even Kia has a version dubbed the Stinger. But the Germans have taken the niche to another level, whether it’s the Audi RS7 or BMW’s Gran Coupe, which began life as the 6 Series before evolving into the 8 Series while offering sportier attributes, enhanced innovation, and increased dynamics.

Let me make one thing clear right off the bat. BMW performance models seemingly increase in price each year, so now we are up to $108,900 for the M850i xDrive Gran Coupe’s MSRP and $121,695 as tested. I would say this is a matter of German automotive innovation, such as advanced safety systems and autonomous driving features. There is so much Artificial Intelligence in today’s cars that it is both simultaneously fulfilling and scary. Buyers should also be mindful of the resale values of luxury BMWs and to make sure they do the research. However, once you are behind the wheel of a Bimmer, your pricing strategies blow out the window rather quickly.

Powering the 2020 M850i xDrive Gran Coupe is the compelling 4.4-liter BMW M Performance TwinPower Turbo V8, which outputs 523-horsepower and 553 lb-ft torque between 1,800 – 4,600 rpm. Paired with BMW’s 8-speed Steptronic Sport automatic transmission with SPORT and MANUAL shift, Launch Control, and steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters, as usual, the 4-door sports car moves from 0 to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds. I’m always amazed at how efficient and fast this V8 is. The Steptronic is smarter than ever since it utilizes navigation data to adapt to your driving routes to downshift accordingly. Moreover, SPORT and SPORT+ modes actuated through the Driving Experience Control provide a more exhilarating ride and intoxicating rumbles from the flap-controlled sports exhaust system with its two large outlets.

Michelin has been one of BMW’s critical partners for over 30 years now and produces both consumer and motorsports tires for the manufacturer. The 20” M Wheels on my test model came wrapped in original equipment Michelin Pilot Sport 3 Max Performance Summer tires. Michelin and BMW work together to develop the best rubber technology for the street and the track. They test thousands of prototype tires and chassis setups for every conceivable driving situation. Blue M Sport brakes clamp down on the 728M rims for commendable high-speed deacceleration. Add in xDrive AWD, and now your BMW is as dominating as felines in Africa’s Maasai Mara. xDrive is rear-wheel biased until variable torque is needed upfront for either inclement weather or cornering scenarios. This model also includes as standard an Adaptive M Suspension Professional, Integral Active Steering, and BMW’s M Sport Differential. However, I am not a fan of BMWs very intrusive lane change tech, dubbed Lane Keeping Assistant with Active Side Collision Protection, which aggressively and suddenly turns the vehicle back in its lane if the driver fails to use the blinkers.

That long snout, chiseled rear, dynamic side profile, and comfortable seating for four is what steers me towards the Gran Coupe out of all of BMWs sedan and sports cars. Enhanced visually with the M Sport Package (M Sport steering wheel, M Rear spoiler, aerodynamic kit, rear spoiler, Shadowline exterior trim, and Anthracite headliner), the 2020 M850i xDrive Gran Coupe incorporates even more aggressive styling to its demeanor. And if your account can spare some change, then please upgrade to the $3,000 M Carbon Roof and $4,100 M Carbon Exterior Package featuring a carbon fiber rear diffuser, carbon fiber mirror caps, and carbon fiber lower bumper air strakes.

Inside you will see that most of the controls are now flush with haptic feedback. BMW cleaned up the layout by removing many of the physical knobs. The volume control and the iDrive rotary dial are all that remain. Multi-function 16-way front seats and Live Cockpit Pro with iDrive’s 10.25” touchscreen make long drives bearable and comforting. The crystal gear shifter (Glass Controls, $650) is pretty charismatic, and the $3,400 Bowers & Wilkins 16-speaker Diamond Surround Sound System with 1,375 watts distributes mesmerizing sound quality. A wireless charge pad for smartphones is also at your disposal. And please bring along the crew since the Gran Coupe has seating for two more in the backseat.

With that said, I am patiently waiting for the keys to the 2020 BMW M8 Gran Coupe Competition!

At the BMW Performance Center East, customers will witness the handling and performance capabilities of their dream rides in various conditions and driving situations. For example, there are a dozen course options for the thousands of guests attending the facility every year. From teen driving schools to car control basics to M track drives, BMW enthusiasts have the opportunity to experience it all. You can even off-road with X Sport Activity Vehicles (SAV) like the highly-proficient, go-anywhere X6 SAV.

Also located inside the BMW Performance Center is a gift shop featuring inspiring collector items and moto gear fashion pieces. I picked up a racing jacket, cap, and polo, which had me feeling like the heroic, flamboyant, and mysterious Racer X from Speed Racer and his #9 car, aka the Shooting Star. Ha, I wonder if X’s ride was actually a BMW M art car in disguise!

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