2019 BMW M850i xDrive
For as long as we can remember the Mercedes S-Class has bested the BMW 7 Series in luxury, technology, and overall comfort. The Mercedes was the first to introduce infrared night vision, topographically predictive suspension, an air cabin fragrance system, and even traffic sign recognition. And for the past two decades Mercedes has offered a coupe version of the S-Class first under the CL moniker and then as the C217 S-Class Coupe. BMW, on the other hand, didn't have any model to match besides the short-lived 8 Series from the early nineties.
But it did have a hell of an impact. The first generation 8 Series had windows that open and close with the door to create a better seal. It had a CAN BUS system for its electronics. And its top-of-the-line S70 V-12 was eventually utilized in the McLaren F1. Many of its features are standard in cars today which shows it was definitely a car ahead of its time.
We're not one to say whether lightning can strike twice but the G15 M850i xDrive looks to be almost as promising as the one that preceded it 20 years prior.
We'll start with the engine since complicated power units are a hearty BMW tradition. It's an N63B44T3 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8. It produces 523 horsepower @ 5500 to 6000 rpm and 553 lb-ft of torque @ 1800 to 4600 rpm. Inside the aluminum alloy block the crankshaft is equipped with viscous dampers for reduced vibration while the cylinder walls are arc sprayed for smoothness. Mahle-brand pistons coated with Grafal (Graphite-type) material reduce friction-induced engine stress. Its direct injection units have been boosted for higher maximum pressure and it now delivers fuel from a point between the valves.
Both turbos are twin-scrolled, charge air cooled, and sit in the V bank for a more compact design with faster spooling. Boost control is aided by electrically controlled wastegates and blow-off valves. Its air intakes are specifically designed to provide equal pulsation resulting in lower rpm torque. A gasoline particulate filter is employed in the exhaust to reduce emissions but you should still be able to hear the V-8 roar with active exhaust flaps.
Send all that power into an upgraded 8-speed Steptronic (ZF 8HP76) transmission and the M850i will punch from zero-to-60 mph in just 3.6 seconds. Top speed is limited to 155 mph.
While the engine tackles the straights the 8 Series suspension is built to iron out bumps to the best of its ability. Its SLA front and forged aluminum multi-link rear geometry employs adaptive dampers, (optional) active anti-roll bars, specialized struts and bushings to dissipate instances of road undulations having any influence on the steering wheels. BMW also uses a rear load bearing strut, specialized wheel hubs, bearings, and damping plates on the rear axles to increase camber in the corners improving its high speed grip.
Mechanical grip is a result of a staggered 245/35 R20 with 275/30 R20 Pirelli P Zero set of tires. Brakes are four piston fixed caliper front and single floating rear units cooled from an inboard ventilation duct, and its lightweight aluminum architecture is a bespoke BMW creation.
Even though the M850i xDrive isn't as serious about going fast as a car like the M6, the 8 Series packs an assortment of tools that provide the driver with fun-inducing potential. This includes everything from an electronically controlled locking differential to rear wheel steering to its highly intelligent dynamic stability control. With DSC in the M850i, it not only monitors and uses all of the above systems to keep the driver from crashing, it will show the driver how to steer to correct instances of understeer or oversteer through its active electric steering system.
Naturally, the M850i is equipped with almost all of BMW's latest driver assistant technologies. These include optional adaptive cruise control, speed limit recognition, pedestrian warning, lane keep assist, active side collision protection, lane departure warning, cross traffic warning, self-parking systems (Driver operates speed), GPS assisted automated gear selection, predictive engine start/stop, and launch control.
The interior cabin is surprisingly simple. Here you'll find leather trim, glass-covered shift knob, head-up display, 10.25-inch center console display, 12.3-inch fully digital gauge cluster, two USB ports (Type A and C), optional night vision, and Wifi. The standard BMW OS 7.0 system provides navigation, weather, emergency calling, news and online searches via integrated unlimited data SIM. Its front seats are heated and for the first time fully climate controlled with ventilation connected to the air conditioning unit. The new 8 Series comes with 2 rear folding seats though we don't expect anyone to sit back there.
Drivers can select between five different drive modes: Eco, Comfort, Sport, Sport+ and Adaptive. Manually shifting through gears is said to be faster than other models as BMW added a twin-damper system in the torque convert and improved hydraulic controls. Night time driving is also improved as the headlights for the 8 Series are full LED with lasers.
The body of the 8 Series is constructed almost entirely of aluminum. The only parts that aren't are the center tunnel which is made from carbon fiber and an optional carbon fiber roof. In contrast to its low-slung lightweight appearance the G15 weighs about as much as a loaded short-wheelbase G11 7 Series at an incredible 4,478 lbs (2,031 kg). Dimension wise the G11 is 250mm shorter in length, 120mm lower, the same in width, and has a 250mm shorter wheelbase.
What BMW has done is make a luxury AWD version of the Ford Mustang. And we don't see anything wrong with that.
Price for the 2019 BMW M850i xDrive to be announced. Sales expected to begin November 2018.