REVIEWS
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OVERALL
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The Top Gear car review:

EXCLUSIVE SA FIRST DRIVE: BMW M8 Competition Gran Coupé

R3,325,900

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A fitting addition to the M8 Competition range

8

OVERALL
VERDICT

For:

Elegant design. Blistering performance. Versatile practicality.

Against:

Slightly neutered exhaust note.

What is it?

Prior to deliberating on that question, let us recap to our recent review of the BMW M8 Competition in Coupe flavour. We love the looks and power and how easy it is to extract the full quota of performance without involuntarily leaving the tarmac in a spectacular tailspin. We also dug the fact that you can easily decouple the front axle via a sequence of buttons and seamlessly turn the big coupé into a tyre-smoking, rear wheel drive only demented animal.

CONSUMMATE CRUISER

On the other side of the coin it remains a succinctly comfortable GT that can chomp long miles with absolute disdain. So, then, the Coupé variant of the flagship M8 Competition portfolio seems to be the one to have, or is it? Well, to be frank, the two-door derivative does everything well, bar one – the cramped rear quarters. Yes, it might brandish the 2+2 concept, but those rear seats are a reserve for small children or utilised as an additional parcel shelf at best. Because, to expect a grown-up to sit back there requires them to contort their bodies like a pretzel – and that is just crass, not to mention downright rude, if I am honest. Thankfully, there is a remedy for this anomaly…

THE M8 COMPETITION GRAN COUPE (GC)

Essentially a four-door version of the two-door variant, but with a huge dose of practicality to boot. It is an elegant looking thing in the mould of a Grand Tourer set aside from its smaller sibling by M specific front valance, airducts, and beefed up front flanks replete with M8 emblazoned ducts. There are M specific wheels wrapped with 275/35/20-inch rubber at the front and 285/35/20-inch at the rear, which are home to blue paint licked M brake callipers. As part of the optional Carbon Pack, there are M specific mirrors with carbon fibre finishes, while the exotic material treatment is also liberally tacked onto the front splitter, rear spoiler and diffuser. Meanwhile, the M8 Competition badge is finished in a gloss black colour, while the quad performance exhausts finished in black round off the exterior visage.

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Layout, finish and space

CLASSY YET SPORTY CABIN

Swinging open the driver’s frameless door exposes a cabin architecture that is akin to that of the M850i, save for, perhaps, the M model specific steering wheel replete with red M1 and M2 switches, while a red starter button and M mode switches are peppered about on the centre tunnel console. There are lashings of carbon fibre inserts that blend well with the high-quality leather finishes, while those sumptuous M seats are form hugging and offer a great scope for adjustment to boot. Luggage space, meanwhile, measures in at 440-litres, which is 20-litres more than the two-door Coupe.

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What is it like on the road?

WHAT FIRE POWER DOES IT PACK?

Power comes from the familiar, M-fettled ‘S63’ 4.4-litre V8 twin-turbo with 460kW and 750Nm that is allied to a quick-shifting, eight-speed automatic gearbox. This is all shuffled to the road via the M xDrive all-wheel drive system, which can be decoupled to send all power to the rear axle only, so you can leave long unofficial black road markings in your wake if you so wish. However, this being for most part a sporty, four-door GT, it manages to be an adequately suave, comfortable everyday drive and in its most relaxed settings, it can easily pass for a nondescript family sedan - such is the suspension's compliancy.

DOES IT GO LIKE THE PROVERBIAL BAT OUT OF HELL?

Oh, you bet it does! Should the mood tickle your fancy, then you can turn everything up to full-on attack mode and the M8 Competition GC morphs into a hairy-chested, alpha prime mate that drums its chest to assert its M dominance. It is a rapid projectile in a straight line and even more than adept in playing corner tugging. The only fly in the ointment, in my view, is that the exhaust note sounds ever so subdued, like a muffled hum that never quite clears its throat with the increase in engine revolutions. Granted, it is not meant to shout from the rafters like, say, some of its smaller M siblings down the rung but I expected a little bit more aural splendour to go with the ludicrous performance.

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Next: Owning
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Running costs and reliability

SHOULD I BUY ONE?

If the M5 Competition, which serves up similar performance and dynamic nuances is just too restrained in the looks department for you, then the M8 Competition GC is your kind of top-end M Division saloon. Of course, you could consider the Mercedes-AMG GT63S, which boasts a more bespoke cabin and similar performance, but it does look a tad ungainly and decidedly hefty from some angles.

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Final thoughts

VERDICT

The BMW M8 Competition GC readdresses all that is amiss with its two-door sibling. Adding a great deal of practicality via those rear passenger doors has yielded no tangible stylistic or performance drawbacks. It is, unequivocally, the M8 Competition derivative to vote for with your wallet.

 

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