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BMW M8 Competition

7/10
Overall verdict

The Top Gear car review:BMW M8 Competition

n/a

Driving

What is it like on the road?

Most powerful production BMW engine. There’s a good headline. Four-wheel-drive where you can switch out the front wheels, for driftular purposes. There’s another one. Carbon roof. Track mode…

None of which gives any sense at all of what the M8 is actually like. You just can’t imagine anyone taking this to a track. Not like M2s, or M3s when they’ve got a bit secondhand and modified.

Oh sure, at their limit, the M8’s high-speed acceleration, braking and cornering are forceful enough to demand a track to show off. So BMW thoughtfully provided one at the launch event. But forbade us from using the drift mode. Which just goes to show how ridiculously pointless that is: a shredder of both tyres and insurance.

So let’s use AWD. You can choose a sports mode for this, which shuffles the drive more emphatically rearward, and with DSC in the looser ‘traction mode’ it does make for innocent throttle-enhanced play with a safety net beneath – I’d not feel irresponsible using this on the road. But you can still feel this is a 1.9-tonner doing well to manage the effects of all that size and luxury.

On the road, then, it just devours the terrain, but feels numb if you wanted a sports car, or even a mid-engined ‘GT’ like McLaren has just built. But hey, it’s sharper than the M5 Competition, because the centre of gravity is 24mm lower to the ground, cutting slow-corner understeer, and sharpening the feedback a little.

The convertible hardly suffers in the driving department. It’s a very rigid bodyshell.

That most powerful-ever engine is suited to road work, too. It’ll belt its way beyond 7,000rpm if the occasion arises, and properly rapid it is by then. But there’s also pretty lively response all the way down to the lower rev registers.

Thing is, even in circumstances when the exhaust flaps open, the noise isn’t offensively loud. Unlike some of the AMGs.

It’s cultured, which is the demeanour of the whole car – in actions if not in looks. More than you’d expect in an M-car, the ride is really quite pliable over short sharp bumps. This is, after all, a long-distance machine.

For the same reason, you can spec the full BMW suite of driver aids – everything the chauffeur of a V12 760Li gets.

Continue: On the inside
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