Its big, its expensive, it looks great… what’s not to love? We find out as we put the BMW 840d Convertible through its paces.
The BMW 8 Series with its CFRP carbon fibre core construction is the flagship grand tourer in the Bavarian firm’s range. The 6 Series replacement has a similar line up of hard top coupe, rag top convertible and four door Gran Coupe (launching shortly). Already the model is under pressure to succeed or be axed with media reports saying it seems likely that the four door gran coupe will be the only 8 Series likely to have a shelf life.
The shoulder line is lower and the car is far more handsome than the coupe 6. The huge active grille and massive sculpted bonnet signal intent as do the headlights that are the slimmest fitted to any BMW. The flank view is far more resolved and lower set than the 6 Series and the rear is far sleeker and less goofy than the 6 also. LED headlights are standard with laserlight adaptive lights optional.
The convertible has almost identical size stats at the coupe yet looks quite different. The cloth roof folds down in next to no time (15 seconds) and is do-able in motion at speeds up to 50km/h. The fabric roof folds neatly into a trunk in front of the modest boot. In the 350 litre boot you’ll find a folded wind deflector. When fitted the deflector can make the driving experience utterly manageable on the motorway. During a rain shower even at 120km/h we were cosseted, dry and able to enjoy the €5,491 optional high-end Bowers & Wilkins surround sound system blasting out random tracks from my youth!
Inside the bling cabin is a well executed exercise in soft leather and creature comforts. The large seats are supportive and featured hot or cold ventilation and a version of Merc’s ‘air scarf’ blow heater for colder days – even the armrest can be heated! The chunky heated steering wheel is pleasant to use or hang on to – if you floor the throttle.
Our 840d might be fuelled with the devil’s lotion but has plenty of torque (700nm) to help shift the weighty 2 tonne plus machine along. A HUD head up display helps keep your eyes on the road and of course the driver’s digital display and large centre dash display are excellent.
On the road the straight-six 840d feels like a grand tourer. It gobbles up distances with ease. It is not nimble but is entertaining none the less. 0-100km/h takes just 5.2 seconds. Clever all wheel drive xDrive is standard and the car, even in damp conditions, feels planted to the road. XDrive has a rear wheel bias and this makes it more entertaining than a symmetrical system. The low slung driving position is near perfect and its slick 8-speed automatic gearbox is smooth and engauging. The 8 rides on steel springs with adaptive dampers – unlike the air suspension in the 7 Series. Various drive modes (Eco-Pro, Comfort, Sport and Sport+) allow you be very comfortable at low speed right up to being very comfortable at high speed! Speaking of speed the big machine has good stopping power with 19 inch- brake discs – yes 19 inch discs featured set in the standard 20 inch wheel rims.
The 8 Series is a 2+2 and you can fit small adults in the rear for short journeys. Another negative is the smart key that is clever allowing you to preset and do a number of things remotely but it is bulky and not pocket friendly despite its leather pouch. Prices start at €127,690 for the 320hp/700nm 840d xDrive with the 530hp/750nm 4.4 litre V8 M850i xDrive from €181,400. My test car 840d had a few extras that brought it up to €142,643.