BMW M8 Competition - long term review - Report No:8 - Report No:9 2023 | Top Gear
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Tuesday 26th September
Long-term review

BMW M8 Competition - long term review

£129,750 (£150,050 as tested)
Published: 21 Jul 2023

We took our M8 to one of BMW’s special M track days

It’s time to wave goodbye to our BMW M8… but not before ratcheting up the jeopardy and making our insurers sweat with a little track action. Do not fear, this isn’t some high risk flight of fancy after eight months of incident free, fast, luxurious motoring. In fact, it’s something BMW encourages.

Hammering around racetracks is M’s raison d'etre. And it’s good to know they put their money where their mouth is by giving you a free track day if you buy the M Driver’s Pack. Which we have as part of the £20k (!) ‘Ultimate Pack’. Zing!

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Ticking that particular option not only loosens the M8's velocity belt to unlock its true top speed (190mph), but also adds goodies like the full carbon pack (including engine cover), carbon brakes, uprated sound system, laser lights, heated and cooled seats and other techie assistant bits. Crucially, you also get a voucher for 'M Intensive Driver Training'. Which, given you’ve got over 600bhp and two-wheel drive if you press a few buttons, isn’t a bad thing.

BWM M8 Top Gear Magazine M Track Day

For ease, we signed ourselves up for a day at Brands Hatch. But the voucher doesn’t have to be used in the UK. If you’re feeling adventurous and want to make a trip out of it, you could go to one of their events in another market, like the Nürburgring, for example. Regardless of where you go the format of the day remains the same: a bit of classroom theory about vehicle dynamics and racing lines, some exercises to show how stability control and ABS stop you from crashing, a hefty carb heavy lunch, a bit of drifting (where you instantly regret the hefty carb heavy lunch), then some hot laps around the circuit to round the day off.

All in all, a great day out. And the best thing is you don’t have to have any previous track experience. At this point you’re probably worrying about munching your brakes, eating your tyres and putting your pride and joy into the armco – possibly all three of those things at once. No need. At each event BMW floods the pitlane with a Skittles bag worth of brightly coloured M3s (including Tourings), M4s and M5s for people to use. Saying that, if you do bin one there will be a bill heading your way. So it’s not a free for all. But the instructors are incredibly relaxed and make you feel at ease instantly. And no matter how much track driving you’ve done, a trained professional breaking down all the basic elements helps you get better at car control but also lets you push your M car of choice to a healthy limit in safety.

While everyone else walked away with an M party bag and a bit of cake at the end of the day, I snuck out on track with the M8 to practice what had been preached. Well, they said to not turn ESC fully off while on track. I did that instantly. Oops.

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You don’t need to be a trackhound to know 2,000kg (with me and my hefty lunch on board) isn’t an ingredient for a great track car. But the M8 is rampant and surprisingly agile and flat in corners. In fact, at times it felt more dynamic than the M5 I’d been driving all day. I have no doubt that in the right hands it’ll put in a surprisingly swift lap time. It’s so powerful it has to. Taking it on track was mainly beneficial to finally wind out the twin-turbo V8 without fear of blue lights appearing in your rearview mirror.

Is the M8 made for tracks? No. Can it handle them? Yes. Where is the M8 best? Well, that’s a good question.

BWM M8 Top Gear Magazine M Track Day

After 7,000 odd miles I’ve realised the M8 is an outlier of the BMW range as it fails to commit to either performance or luxury (prefering to do both well, rather than sticking to one and excelling) leaving it in constant limbo. It’s a car with more character than you’d think and is elevated above an M850i - especially if you like a pugnacious and fierce side to your car. But it just doesn’t have enough luxury touches or individuality compared to the rest of the BMW range to keep up with the likes of Bentley and Aston Martin. Which is a dangerous place when you’re dancing in the £150k price bracket.

Saying that, I do think this generation of M8 will be a sneaky secondhand bargain as it’s ripe to be hit by a depreciation bomb. So keep your eye out. Or haggle with a dealer, as you could get yourself a lot of car for not a lot of cash: a car with spirit, a thumping V8 and long-legged chops. Just be mindful of the unrelenting ride. You have been warned.

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