Tested: BMW M850i Coupe is an all-in-one package built for speed

By Willem van de Putte Time of article published Mar 9, 2020

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Johannesburg - While the automotive market continues its swing towards SUVs in all shapes and sizes, there is still a place for sedans. Particularly sedans that make no excuses for being head-turners, loud and very fast.

One example is the BMW M850i Coupé, which is unashamedly aimed at the top end of executive mobility.

That pretty much excludes everyone I know, people I passed on the road and those who parked next to me in traffic, but it didn’t stop them from ogling the car from every angle.

Some might say there’s perhaps too much detail in the design. I disagree, given the overall look of the 850i especially in sunset orange.

The slopes, curves, inlets and outlets, some only for aesthetic purposes, flow into a singular design that makes a lot of sense.

From the kidney grill, the long bonnet over the sloped coupé roof finishing off with a good-looking rear, it looks like a combination of a super model and an Olympic sprint champion. 

Black 20-inch rims with a low profile finish it off in style.

Slipping behind the wheel of the bespoke interior, the large bonnet housing the turbocharged V8 engine impressively stretches out in front of you. Good thing then that it’s equipped with every conceivable sensor to prevent those pesky parking bay nicks and scratches.

The engine is good for 390kW and 750Nm of torque and will gladly push you back into the seat as it blasts to 100km/h in just under four seconds. It’s impressive in every way, particularly when its weight of just under two tons is taken into consideration.

There’s the unmistakable roar of a V8 and down-gearing snaps and crackles, especially in Sport and Sport+ mode which would be much more satisfactory if it wasn’t a combination of the real deal and synthesised acoustics.

Power is delivered to all four corners by BMW’s eight-speed Steptronic transmission and its XDrive all-wheel-drive system, which powers the rear wheels but shifts torque to the front if the rear gets out of sorts or you run out of talent around sharp bends.

The cockpit is fitted with the Live Cockpit Professional set-up that includes a 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system and a 12.3-inch digital cluster.

While its German counterparts also have similar hi-tech digital instrumentation, it’s confusing getting used to the layout and initially tends to take your eyes off the road, although there is a well-specced head-up display. In a GT-Type vehicle such this, a traditional analogue set-up would add significantly to the cool factor.

Once you’ve settled into a comfortable driving position, push the start button and become accustomed to the long bonnet, the M850i Coupé is an all-driver’s car.

At the international launch in Portugal, I settled for two driving positions, one for careering around the track and a second, more comfortable one, for cruising long distances and everyday driving.

The suspension set-up, even in normal driving mode, is a bit on the stiff side, which favours long stretches of highway driving but shows up suburban road imperfections. Certainly not a deal breaker and considering the comfort of your surroundings, something you’ll get used to.

Everything about the car screams “drive me”, and I reckon you’ll need your lawyer on speed dial if you intend to use even half the power at your disposal.

For its size, the M850i Coupé never feels out of sorts. It remains well balanced even under extreme acceleration and cornering, testimony to the M engineers, rear wheel steering and a variable-ratio steering set-up.

In Sport and Sport+ mode steering and throttle response is more direct, made smile-inducing by the piped and real exhaust notes.

It’s the kind of car where you’d want to throw two overnight bags into the big sloping boot and head to Mpumalanga to drive the long open roads with their variety of hairpins, gentle curves and beautiful views. The kids (unless they’re small) will have to stay behind because legroom at the back is at a premium.

The BMW M850i Coupé is striking in every way including price, at just under R2 million.

While there are quicker and more agile options, this particular Coupé must rate as one of the most complete packages in the market.

Saturday Star

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