Can the BMW M8 cut it as a 'family' car, or should you just get an M3 Touring?
Six years ago I mentioned in passing to Ollie Marriage that, with my first child on the way, I fancied something ‘silly’ to run before the inevitable onslaught of sensible family transport. If I recall, he chuckled and handed me the keys to a Zenos E10 – a very lightweight British no-roof sportscar with a 247bhp Ford Focus ST engine slurping away behind you and all the refinement of a Glasgow Kiss. Serves me right I suppose, and now my eardrums are fully repaired I can look back on it with fondness – heady days when a spare pair of pants and a toothbrush were all the luggage I needed for a weekend away.
Now just leaving the house to buy some milk requires a mountain of snacks, toys, electronics, and multiple wardrobe changes. So here’s the challenge, can the M8 Coupe (the first two door I’ve run since the Zenos, in fact that had no doors and required gymnastics to get in) serve as a family car for a staycation half term?
First hurdle - getting a car seat for my three year old into the back. Not clipping it into the Isofix points, that’s simple, but maneuvering it past the front passenger seat (folds and glides forward automatically when you pull the handle) without removing any paint. It goes, just. Installing the children, stooped with one foot in the rear footwell, isn’t fun for my lower back, but we’re in. Cue yelps from the back as our front seats whirr into their pre-set positions and squash little legs. Seat forward, wheel closer to the dash, my legs a little more bent and my six-year old is happy. I’m 5ft 8in remember, if you’re 6ft+ this may not even be possible…
First world problem incoming. If, like us, you like to suspend a tablet from a daisy chain of elastic hairbands looped over the two front headrests for your angels in the back, then be warned, it dangles close to their faces, so the viewing angle is acute. Mild meltdowns may occur.
However, once settled they slept like babies, although extracting them from the depths of the back seats and through the front door without waking them is pretty much impossible. No complaints from the kids on the ride quality or performance. “Daddy, this is definitely the fastest car in the world,” said one, though my wife did ask “why is this so uncomfortable? Why does it feel like a race car over bumps when it’s a big BMW?” To be fair, it’s an excellent point.
The boot is massive, a shallow but deep cave that disappears way back into the darkness. Not great, for any one large item, but for loads of small ones, it’s a Tardis. No complaints there, it’ll even take several golf bags, length ways, with the drivers still in the bag.
If you’re not freakishly tall, don’t have your own kids, but plan on very occasionally hauling about some small children, then the Coupe can handle it. Just. But if rear passengers are going to be a regular thing then get the (better looking in my opinion) M8 Gran Coupe which is every bit as quick, no more money, has more doors and superior rear legroom. But if that’s ticking your boxes, why not save yourself £25k and get an M5 Competition? Or better still, save a further £25k and buy an M3 Touring, then you can bring the dog as well.