Algarve, Portugal – Comparing the first-generation 8 Series to the current one, the differences are obvious: gone are the pop-up headlamps, plus the reimagined car's model range is now far more extensive. The addition of a four-door Gran Coupé variant simply adds to the appeal.
The new 8 Series Gran Coupé essentially picks up where the F06 6 Series Gran Coupé left off, with BMW certain this will be the bread winner in the 8 range. Classified as the G16, this four-door variant is 231 mm longer (including a 201 mm increase in wheelbase), 30 mm wider and 61 mm taller than the 8 Coupé.
The significant benefit of these altered dimensions is increased head- and legroom on the rear bench, although a fifth passenger may feel a tad snug owning to the presence of a tall transmission tunnel. The outer two occupants, however, will enjoy the comfort and support afforded by sculpted seats.
On the international launch of the Gran Coupé, we drove the 840i with its twin-scroll turbocharged 3,0-litre straight-six sending 250 kW and 500 N.m of torque to the rear wheels via an eight-speed torque-converter transmission. A tried-and-tested drivetrain, it’s an impressive fit for the heavier (1 875 kg) body of the Gran Coupé. As a bonus, the B58 engine offers a traditional BMW aural experience and presents ample performance with the ability to soak up long distances in its stride.
It's a dual personality evident in the 840i's ride quality, too. Despite our launch vehicle being fitted with optional 20-inch alloy wheels, the Gran Coupé offers a generally plush ride partly thanks to the adaptive M suspension. Those adaptive dampers manage to rein in unwanted body roll. The larger wheels do amplify some inconsistencies of the road, though, and I assume the standard smaller items might ultimately feel like a better fit for the 840i's relaxed demeanour.
Through the tight and twisty roads of Faro, the relatively large 840i Gran Coupé felt suitably nimble and easy to place, losing little in the way of handling prowess to its two-door sibling. Certainly, for our market, the (as-yet-unconfirmed) all-wheel-drive derivative won’t be necessary.
The 8 Series Gran Coupé is a worthwhile evolution of the F06 6 Series and blends the brand’s modern design language into a distinctive product. Up against the likes of the Mercedes-Benz CLS and Audi A7 Sportback, the neatly balanced packaging and less aggressive tuning of the 840i (compared with the 850i and M8 derivatives) make for a compelling package likely to find favour with those not quite ready to settle into the altogether more conservative 5 Series family.
FAST FACTSModel: BMW 840i xDrive Gran Coupe Steptronic
Price: R1 377 590
Engine: 3,0-litre, straight-six, turbopetrol
Power: 250 kW
Torque: 500 N.m
0-100 km/h: 5,2 seconds
Top Speed: 250 km/h
Fuel Consumption: 7,5 L/100 km
CO2: 164 g/km
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
Maintenance Plan: 5-year/100 000 km maintenance