The BMW 850i is one of those big-buck rides that’s destined for posters that’ll be hung on the bedroom walls of young car buffs around the world.
2019 BMW M850i Review: Rocket Coupe
The BMW M850i is all-new for model-year
Best of all, despite the high-performance focus of this machine, it’s also ready to tackle winter driving conditions with relative ease, and amounts to a quiet, comfortable and relaxed touring coupe, too.
Drivers enjoy it from a cabin so perfectly assembled and beautifully trimmed that you nearly need a magnifying glass to find any trace of an out-of-place stitch, seam or panel. The build quality in here works in full support of the hefty asking price.
Driving (Quickly) Leaves an Impression
Up front is a twin-turbo V8, with 4.4 litres displacement, twin turbo, and 523 horsepower. There’s also an exhaust system that can be set into numerous volume settings, ranging from “muted roar” to “Was that fireworks? Nevermind, it’s just the neighbor’s BMW”.
With a slippery rear-biased AWD calibration, the BMW M850i is also a thrilling wintertime driving tool for the enthusiast, and any aspiring Ken Blocks among us, too.
Turns out that for all of the high-performance stuff, the M850i delivers nicely on the comfort front, too.
Cruising at highway speeds on a smooth roadway, in COMFORT drive mode, the BMW M850i rides like a sporty-ish luxury sedan. There’s a pleasant ‘give’ around the edges of the suspension, though this gives way to a stiff core. It’s relaxed here—and nicely straddles the line between stiff and comfy in a way that’ll satisfy most drivers. The long wheelbase helps further smooth out the ride, and those coming to the BMW M850i from something like a Lexus GS F-Sport or Audi A6 S-Line will feel familiar with the ride quality. The M850i constantly informs you that you’re in something capable, but without smashing your spine all to heck about it.
Outward visibility helps contribute to a relaxed drive, too. Simply, thanks to a relatively tall and wide rear window, relatively thin and optimally-placed window pillars, long side windows, and usable rear corner windows, the M850i driver can gather more data than usual about the goings on in the world around them then they can in many a rocket-coupe. As a result, the driver can expect to feel less vulnerable, and more aware of their surroundings, more of the time.
Even the steering system enhances driver comfort. On the highway, you nearly need to break the wheel loose from a deep notch when giving it an input. With a good bit of initial force needed to start the wheel turning, this means the BMW M850i feels bolted to the selected path, and that drivers needn’t issue a constant stream of small corrections to keep it centred. At lower speeds, for instance while parking, the steering goes featherlight, and can be manipulated with minimal force. Finally, when steering quickly and at higher speeds, only small inputs are required to effect a big change in direction from the car.
So, the steering is, mostly, very heavy and very fast. Just like a go-kart, actually.
On a long highway cruise, the size of the fuel tank and highly reasonable fuel use mean the BMW M850 is capable of a full day’s cruising without a stop to refuel. And, despite the big power on tap, that engine barely makes a peep in COMFORT mode. This is ideal for those times when the driver doesn’t want to feel or hear from their powerplant.
Or, engage SPORT mode. Here, the exhaust is much meatier, with lusty sound effects positively soaking the cabin. More power goes to the rear wheels. The steering becomes even heavier, and the throttle pedal becomes extra sensitive. Further, the transmission works to keep the revs higher more of the time, for easier access to the turbochargers. Drivers who find occasion to experience some full-throttle acceleration won’t likely be left wanting: the M850i accelerates like a photon torpedo, flattens eyeballs, and leaves an unmistakable V8 bark in its wake.
In deep snow, the BMW M850 likes to be
In more reasonable driving, the AWD system requires none of your attention, and works with the stability control to keep things surefooted and under control. Notably, when the roads are at their worst, the M850i often feels like a much heavier machine than it is, which imparts an added sense of security that’s easy to appreciate.
Of course, there are some gripes—both in general, and in regards to wintertime use.
Getting in or Getting Out?
Boarding and exiting are relatively easy as coupes go, but much less so for those occupants bundled up in thick winter gear and heavy boots. Second, the M850i’s low ground clearance and down-low seating position can translate into some tense moments when pulling out from behind tall snowbanks, or creeping over uneven snow-packed surfaces without grounding the bumper. And finally, watch those potholes. My tester’s big wheels and thin, sporty winter tires looked great, but may prove easily damaged by pothole strikes. Also, on account of the wheel and tire setup, rougher in-town roads can cause ride quality to degrade fairly rapidly, too.
Those interested in maximizing their investment in an M850i by driving it all year are, nonetheless, well-supported for any sort of motoring they feel like getting up to.
And a final note: if there’s a young, rapidly-forming car-guy or car-gal in your life, consider spending some quality time bonding over the BMW M850i’s specs, features and facts—whether
Stay in school, kids.