BMW has developed a great system to handle safety features and displays while driving at a track. The M button allows the driver to switch between normal mode (where all screens and safety systems are active), sport mode (where the radio and non-critical safety systems are deactivated and a custom speedometer is shown), or track mode.
In its raciest, most focused setting the central screen is switched off, all safety systems (outside of stability control) are turned off, and the focus is entirely on driving fast without any distractions.
For the most part, OS7.0 is the best iteration of BMW’s iDrive infotainment system. It’s fast, easy to use, and comes with a fully-featured voice recognition system capable of everything from making calls through to entering destinations.
It’s backed up by wireless Apple CarPlay and wireless phone charging.
BMW has dived headfirst into connected services and offers a number of pay-to-play applications that can be added to the car over time. This includes remote software upgrades to avoid unnecessary dealer visits.
Leg- and headroom in the first row is excellent, but we would have loved to see a seatbelt arm extension to make putting a seatbelt on easier. It can be a bit far to reach in its regular position and most convertibles and coupes in this segment come with a retractable arm that makes the belt a shorter reach. Nitpicky, I know.
In the second row, you’ll struggle to fit anybody bigger than a child. Adults have (just) enough leg- and knee-room, but it’s the headroom that will have you sitting tilted. Much like the Porsche 911, the seats are for emergency use only.
Fit and finish, along with build quality around the cabin, is excellent. It’s tight as a drum and for the most part feels worth the $350,000 you’ve spent.
It’s coupled with a 16-speaker Bowers and Wilkins sound system that offers plenty of punch, and teams with the cabin’s custom LED lighting package for internal surround lighting within the speaker cage.
Cargo capacity comes in at 420 litres with the ability to fold the second row flat for storage of longer items.
What’s under the bonnet?
The engine is a work of art. The engine is topped by a (real) carbon fibre cover, but once you remove it you’ll expose the twin-turbocharged V8 engine that lurks beneath.
The 4.4-litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine produces 460kW of power and 750Nm of torque, mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. It’s a torque converter, with BMW opting to avoid dual-clutch gearbox technology.
Official fuel consumption comes in at 10.4 litres of fuel per 100km. As I’m sure you can imagine, spend time mashing the right pedal and that figure will increase, but not significantly. With the idle stop function and a gentle right foot in comfort mode, you won’t see the figure go far beyond the 14L/100km mark.
BMW claims the 0-100km/h dash takes 3.2 seconds. We tested this out with our VBox and came pretty close, clocking a 0-100km/h dash of 3.3 seconds and a 1/4-mile acceleration time of 11.2 seconds at 205km/h. Given a warmer track we reckon it wouldn’t be all that hard to hit 3.2 seconds and a sub-11-second quarter mile.
How does the BMW M8 Competition drive?
Let’s start with the low speed experience – the engine start in particular. By default the car starts in a loud mode with the exhaust open – it’s so loud that I was able to hear it turn over and idle from two levels above in an underground car park.
The first couple of minutes is also pretty loud, as the engine tries to get to temperature as quick as it can. It sounds pretty serious, and it’s not hard to tell that BMW has avoided subdued idle notes for its Competition models.
In saying that, once the engine has reached operating temperature things quieten down a bit. With the exhaust button deactivated it’s actually quite a peaceful cabin environment. There’s a burble from the rear under acceleration, but it’s not going to upset pedestrians as you pass them.
BMWs fitted with this twin-turbocharged V8 engine tend to have quite a doughy throttle. The M8 Competition is no exception, with an almost laggy response when you push the throttle pedal.
It’s almost as if it wants to stay in its current gear and avoid dropping back through gears at all costs. That works fine for the most part because the 750Nm of torque is available from just 1800rpm.
Around the city the ride is good thanks to a soft adaptive suspension tune. There’s a slight edge to potholes and speed humps thanks to those 20-inch alloy wheels, but it’s not as bad as you’d expect when you look at the 35-profile rubber.
Steering feel is fairly vague at low speed, but that’s welcomed when you consider the grand tourer image it’s trying to portray.
Brake pedal feel is interesting. It’s good in the sense of feedback through the pedal, but interesting in the sense it combines electronic actuation with a combined boost and control module. It allows the car to detect brake pedal input earlier and prime the brake system.
In comfort mode that means longer pedal travel and softer pedal feel, while in the more aggressive sport driving setting it means a firmer pedal with less pedal travel required.