As absurd, asphalt stripping, high performance luxury cars become the standard, we attempt to rationalize and assimilate into the welcomed new age of relatively practical 600+ horsepower vehicles and sub-3-second 0-60 mph times, like the 2021 BMW M8 Competition. Let’s be clear, we’re not complaining. How could anyone protest the dawn of mainstream preposterous performance. We are equally amazed and grateful for the new norm of 2-ton luxury cars devouring the 1/4 mile at supercar-like times and speeds, while gracefully hauling you and your passengers around the city.
In this new environment, we could say that we expected or maybe even demanded that BMW accommodate our insatiable desire for earth-shifting torque and atmosphere-escaping acceleration. The Bavarians have been delivering of course, with models such as the M550i and M850i each producing over 500 horsepower and sprinting to 60 mph in the 3-second range. We also have the M5 and M8 models, both good for 600 horsepower and pure madness on the track. However, with a 617 horsepower 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8, the physics-defying performance from the new M8 Competition rings in a new level of insanity. This monstrous powerplant is able to rocket the 4,200+ pound coupe to 60 mph in 3.0 seconds, according to conservative BMW claims. Thanks to all-wheel drive and a sophisticated launch control system, quick acceleration like this is possible in a heavy luxury coupe.
Maximum horsepower is made at 6,000 rpm and peak torque is available as low as 1,800 rpm and keeps twisting up to 5,800 rpm. The M8 Competition comes with a standard 155 mph speed limiter that can be raised to 190 mph with the optional M Driver’s Package and it would be reasonable to assume that anyone purchasing a car with this level of performance wouldn’t need much convincing to opt for the $2,500 option. While you’re at it, you’re also going to need the M Carbon Ceramic brake package to stop the acceleration rampage. Power is translated through an 8-speed M Steptronic transmission with Drivelogic and laid to the ground with BMW’s M xDrive all-wheel drive system. However, you can deactivate DSC (Dynamic Stability Control) and enjoy a proper rear-wheel drive setup, which is always a pleasurable break from monotony in today’s world of safety systems and driving aides.
The electronically assisted steering is considered sheer blasphemy amongst BMW driving purists (and it is), but at least it’s an electromechanical M Servotronic steering that provides speed-sensitive power assistance and a variable sport ratio. Combine that with the Adaptive M suspension and electronically controlled dampers and you have a well-behaved yet very capable luxury coupe. Standard forged 20-inch M light-alloy wheels wearing 275/35 tires up front and 285/35 rubber in the rear provide the roll.
While the BMW M8 Competition looks beautiful as is with its sloping hood, wide stance and flared wheel arches, the optional M Carbon exterior package that incorporates carbon fiber air intakes, mirror caps and gills provides a nice sporty accent. The package also compliments the carbon fiber double-bubble roof and rear diffuser. Up front, the edgy yet refined Icon Adaptive LED headlights with Laserlight provide superior lighting in the dark and the LED taillights give a nice glow and shape for the rear.
On the inside, it is much smaller than you would expect from a car with such relatively large proportions. However, the cabin is very well-appointed with Merino Leather, an Alcantara headliner, ambient lighting, an illuminated M8 badge on the front headrests and more carbon fiber trim. On the center console, you’ll find the M Mode button, which adjusts the 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, Head-Up display and allows you to select between Road, Sport and, exclusive to the Competition model, Track driving mode settings.
The selected driving mode influences the information presented to the driver along with the driver assistance systems. The Track driving mode is the most aggressive and deactivates all driving aides, as it is meant solely for serious closed course driving. Plenty of additional technology is built into this car, such as a 10.25-inch central information display, Over-the-Air map data updates, wireless charging, 32 GB of multimedia storage and BMW’s iDrive system that can be operated by voice, touchscreen or the touchpad controller.
The M8 Competition is a strange amalgamation of power, luxury and technology wrapped in an enormous coupe. The acceleration is brute and relentless, but very unassuming. Launch the car from a stop and speed is rapidly gained without the typical theatrics you would expect to find in a car this quick. There is no compromise on luxury either. From the Alcantara headliner to the Nappa leather-covered dashboard, the interior is lavish and complete with all the comforts you would ever need. The chassis, while not as forgiving as the M850i, is surprisingly communicative and has an incredible level of grip. Selectable driving modes allow you to further enhance your preferred ride characteristics. The M8 Competition impressively combines desirable qualities from the GT and sports-car segments. While it may not entirely conform to any particular category, we believe that its lunacy deserves its own class.
BMW will not be offering the M8 in coupe or convertible form in North America for the 2021 model year due to COVID-19 supply issues. However, the four-door Gran Coupe will still be offered.
2020 BMW M8 Competition
|$146,995 – $176,000 (MSRP)
|4.4 liter twin-turbocharged and
intercooled DOHC 32-valve V-8
|617 hp @ 6,000 rpm
|553 lb-ft @ 1,800 – 5,800 rpm
|All-wheel drive with rear-wheel drive mode
|8-speed automatic with manual mode
|15 cu ft
|WEIGHT DISTRIBUTION (F/R)
|52.9% / 47.1%
|20-in x 9.5-in Front
20-in x 10.5-in Rear
|0 – 60 MPH
|155 mph (electronically limited)
190 mph with M Driver’s Package
|FUEL TANK CAPACITY
|City: 15 mpg
Highway: 21 mpg
Combined: 17 mpg