Superb Performance. Numerous safety features. Lots of connectivity options.
Ride & Handling
Tiny Rear Seat
The BMW 8 Series is back and it’s better than ever after a long hiatus from the 1990s. This luxury model gets plenty of performance, more power, and tons of new technology. This is a true driver’s car that offers superior on-road dynamics without sacrificing comfort, unlike many performance cars. With a zero to 60 time of 3.8 seconds, and the ability to drop the top in 15 seconds, the BMW M850i xDrive Convertible will satisfy driving enthusiasts.
This week, we’ve been driving the new BMW M850i xDrive Convertible.
BMW M850i xDrive Convertible: What’s New For 2019?
The BMW M850i xDrive is entirely new for the 2019 model year. It revives the 8 Series nameplate last seen in 1999. It comes in coupe and convertible body styles, depending on your preference. BMW focused on the strategic use of steel, aluminum, and magnesium throughout the body and suspension to help reduce the big car’s weight. The soft-top uses multiple layers of fabric to also reduce weight and keep unwanted road noise out. For extra style points, we recommend the optional M Carbon Exterior Package. It adds carbon fiber air intake bars, mirror caps, and a rear diffuser.
Features & Options: The Laundry List
The 2019 BMW M850i xDrive Convertible ($121,400) comes standard with 20-inch M wheels and adaptive LED/laser headlights; power-folding heated mirrors, a power trunk lid, soft-close doors, and automatic wipers; front and rear parking sensors, a sport exhaust, selectable drive modes; and finally, all-wheel steering and an automated parking system. Our convertible tester gave us a standard wind deflector and the optional neck warmers. A heads-up display and a 360-degree camera were also standard.
Inside, there’s dual-zone automatic climate control, an auto-dimming rearview and driver’s-side mirror, and a virtual instrument panel; heated and power-adjustable front seats with memory functions and ambient lighting. Standard tech treatments include Bluetooth and Apple CarPlay, run through a 10.25-inch touchscreen that displays navigation and the surround-view camera. Also on the tech front: a Wi-Fi hotspot, wireless charging pad, and BMW Remote Services (emergency communications, remote controls, and concierge services).
Lastly, our M850i tester came with the upgraded Bowers & Wilkins premium sound system. Total MSRP including Destination: $131,395. By comparison, the 2019 BMW M850i xDrive Convertible starts at $122,395.
The number of driver assistance and other advanced safety systems is nearly endless. Standard features include forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert, and automatic high beams. Our tester included the optional Driving Assistant Professional package. One highlight is the Active Cruise Control with Stop & Go function, effective up to 130 mph. That same package also includes Lane Keeping Assistant with Active Side Collision Protection.
Another top safety feature is the rollover protection system, which initiates if the on-board electronics sense impending danger. Two high-strength aluminum rollover bars (behind the rear headrests) extend via a pyrotechnic charge. BMW says this forms a “survival space” for occupants in the event of a rollover.
Interior Highlights: Nice In Front, Cramped In Back
After opening the long doors, we had to stoop quite a bit to get in, but once seated, this performance car’s interior will leave you feeling like you never want to leave. There is a long reach just to buckle up, but the heated and ventilated leather seats are as comfortable as it gets. They didn’t leave us tired after a long commute to Denver from the mountains. The seats come in Merino Individual leather with a luxurious accent stitching, and it’s hard to argue with how comfortable they are.
The front seats are 20-way-adjustable and the telescoping steering column offers plenty of travel for all drivers to find the perfect position. You will feel snug in the wrap-around cockpit without being confined, and there’s plenty of lateral space for your arms. Top up or down, this cabin is a pleasant place to spend time unless you are in the back seat. Rear-seat space is limited to just smaller cargo, or maybe an occasional ride for the kids. Just gaining access to the rear requires shimmying through a narrow passage and it’s not an easy task. And after you get out, you could need a chiropractor for a back adjustment.
Interior Highlights: Plenty of Connectivity
Unlike some luxury cars, the controls are fairly intuitive and easy-to-use, for younger generations that is. We tried the gesture controls for just the basic audio functions, but we aren’t tech savvy enough to use them. We had trouble even adjusting the radio volume. Over time, you can get used to them, and they may even become your preferred way to adjust the all the controls. Nevertheless, with this new 8 Series, connectivity is key. In-vehicle apps include news, weather, and an online search feature. BMW’s Navigation Professional system provides a multimedia system with 20 GB of memory and two USB ports.
BMW M850i xDrive Convertible: Engine & Fuel Mileage Specs
The 2019 BMW M850i xDrive features a turbocharged, 4.4-liter V8 producing a healthy 523 horsepower and 553 lb-ft. of torque. Two twin-scroll turbochargers with charge air cooling are positioned within the “V” of the cylinder banks. For the return of the 8 Series, BMW gave the engine’s vital systems, like the camshaft timing and fuel injectors, a complete overhaul. The V8 comes mated to an eight-speed Steptronic Sport automatic, sending power to all four wheels.
EPA fuel mileage estimates come in at 17/26 city/highway and 20 combined mpg. The transmission and navigation system work together through something BMW calls “intelligent networking” to aid fuel economy. Punch in a destination and the transmission adjusts its shift points for the best fuel economy based on the planned route.
Driving Dynamics: Off The Charts
At this price point we expected big things from this luxury performance car and we were not disappointed. We would even go farther and say the M850i exceeded our expectations after a week behind the wheel. We pushed a button on the console to lower the top, and drove up a curvy canyon road west of Denver one afternoon.
The M850i inspires confidence and it’s easy to drive in a manner worthy of its creator. From the commute down the mountain into Denver, to pushing the M850i hard to its upper limits around the curves, this performance car blows the top off the fun-to-drive meter. The V8’s throaty performance exhaust note just begs you to push it harder. And we did.
Driving Dynamics: Impressive Performance
On our daily commute through the mountains around Evergreen, the M850i felt sure-footed with its all-wheel drive platform. We dropped the gearbox into Sport and Sport+ modes and pushed around the tighter corners. In these modes, the ride gets stiffer but the Adaptive M suspension with its electronically-controlled dampers makes quick work of the corners. Despite the M850i Convertible being a bigger car, body roll was hardly noticeable.
On the open highway we dialed it back to Comfort mode. The adaptive dampers soften to absorb bumps and ruts for a ride better than you’ll experience in most luxury sport coupes. BMW’s xDrive system being rear-biased is a strong selling point for us. On the open road and in situations where all-wheel drive is not necessary, the rear-drive bias makes the M850i Convertible feel like a true driver’s car.
Shifts are smooth and quick in Comfort mode, and aggressive and strong in either of the Sport modes. In heavy city traffic, the performance rag top puts few demands on the driver. Also, we had more than a few people snapping their necks to look at this beautiful new 8 Series.
The 2019 BMW M850i xDrive Convertible gets high marks in almost every area, except for back seat comfort which is no surprise. However, you will have this beauty sitting in your four-car garage next to your luxury SUV, and you will use that when you need to haul the family anyway. Ride quality is excellent and it comes with all the high-tech equipment to keep you engaged on a long drive. In the end, though, you will want this luxury coupe for its superb overall performance.
Denis Flierl has invested over 25 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. All of his firsthand reviews are archived on our test drives page. Follow Denis on Twitter: @CarReviewGuy