I roll up to a stop sign after thoroughly exercising the 2023 BMW M8 Competition Coupe for the last 15 minutes. Warm air pours out of the side fender vent into my open window, filling the cabin with the excess heat produced by that maniacal 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8. I increase the fan speed of the auto climate control a couple notches and jack the ventilated seat to its max setting. Ah, that’s better, I think before gunning it once more and watching the digital speedo race upwards at a daunting pace.
The M8 Competition is a lot of car, and I mean that in just about every conceivable way. It’s also a car that BMW has struggled with, as Bavaria took a year off selling the M8 Coupe and Convertible in 2021 due to there being a backup of 2020 examples still sitting on dealer lots. BMW’s price was simply an astronomical turnoff, as the 2020 M8 Competition Coupe started at a haughty $146,995. What’s the price of the 2023 model now that three years of inflation and industry-wide price increases have taken effect? $131,995. That’s the exact opposite price swing of what virtually every other new model has seen, but we’re not complaining.
Not only is the price lower, but BMW has updates for the 2023 model that make it even better than before. The big change inside for the M8 (which is now Competition-only with no standard M8 version) is the addition of BMW’s M Carbon bucket seats as an option. Those massively-bolstered seats that debuted in the M3 and M4 are as serious as any seat on the market today, and while they’re not ideal grand touring seats, they sure do make a statement. The 8 Series lineup as a whole is upgraded from the old 10.25-inch infotainment display to a 12.3-inch screen that is still running iDrive 7. As far as we’re concerned, that’s a plus over the many BMWs that have upgraded to the far less user-friendly iDrive 8.
The last of the improvements are in exterior aesthetics, as BMW gives the M8 a new grille, more black trim and offers the classic BMW Motorsport logo as an option. Five additional colors are added to the palette, with one of those being the Brooklyn Grey Metallic this test car is painted in, but I’d recommend skipping straight to the new Isle of Man Green option in the configurator. As far as mid-cycle refreshes go, the 8 Series (and by proxy the M8) went through a light one.
BMW’s V8 in its full-on M machines is a combination of so many qualities that’ll make an enthusiast giddy, and it shines particularly bright in the M8 Competition Coupe. Press the red start button, and it barks to life with an authoritative bite that clearly marks its dominance over BMW’s inline-sixes. If you like muscle, you’re going to like this sound. Keeping up with traffic feels like an afterthought for this engine’s meaty low-end, as revs rarely exceed 2,500 rpm when you leave the eight-speed automatic transmission to its own devices. Even driven calmly, though, the M-specific exhaust rumbles and crackles off buildings and walls alike. There’s nothing stealthy about it.
Start to string this engine out past 5,000 rpm and to its high 7,200 rpm redline, and you’re in for a mechanical treat. Boost from the pair of turbos in the hot-vee is seemingly always on tap and ready to be unleashed, and thanks to the rear-biased all-wheel drive system, all 617 horses and 553 pounds of twist find their way to the pavement in the form of forward momentum. This engine turns downright melodious the more you rev it out, and it’s almost scary how the tremendous thwack of acceleration is maintained and simply swells as you grab each successive gear. Of course, the launch control start is the nuttiest. Get yourself a safe, wide-open space to use it, because the M8 leaps from the line like a lion possessed — Car and Driver timed it at 2.5 seconds — half a second quicker than BMW’s claimed 3.0 seconds to 60 mph. Frankly, it feels like a car that does the job in the mid-to-high two-second range, and it unquestionably feels like the quickest BMW money can buy. Opt for the M Driver’s Package, and it won’t quit until 190 mph.
At a hefty 4,295 pounds, the M8 is a chunky customer, and it feels its weight when you start throwing this coupe left and right. This makes the M8 less lithe than something like an M4, but that’s to be expected from a car designed to be both a corner carver and a grand tourer. The thick steering wheel, somewhat numb, heavy steering and sheer size of the M8 on the road depletes driver confidence. But on the flip side, this chassis with its ball joints replacing bushings, extra-stiff engine mounts, unique camber settings and stiffly-tuned adaptive dampers gives it a raw connection to the road you feel through the seat that makes it drive nothing like the standard-stroke 840i Coupe this vehicle started as. The limits are high thanks to the wide Pirelli P Zero summer rubber, and if you trust the AWD system enough to safely dole out power, you can accelerate through and out of a corner with shocking pace.
Tapping through the eight-speed transmission is a rapid delight, and each downshift brings a bout of rumbling thunder from the quad exhaust. It’s neither obnoxious nor uniform and predictable, which makes it just the right level of honest fun. What can get a little annoying, though, is the M8 Competition’s ride. That stiff chassis can be felt going over every last crack in a cement road and ensures you feel all the potholes a stretch of poor pavement has to offer. An M850i won’t beat you up like this, but as the saying goes, if you can’t handle the heat, get out of the kitchen.
While the ride quality isn’t exactly grand touring-friendly, the rest of the cabin and trunk is. As any rational person would do, I used the M8 to go on a lazy river day with tubes, coolers, swim gear and more tucked away in the cavernous trunk. Good luck doing that in your (admittedly sublime) Lexus LC 500 or Mercedes-AMG GT. There’s enough space back there for multiple suitcases, and while the rear seat is low on headroom, it’s good enough for a below-average-height adult.
Every last luxury feature and flourish that BMW has in its bag of tricks is thrown at this cabin, which means it’s decked out with leather and Alcantara as far as the eye can see. The wraparound (from front-to-back) door leather, abundance of metal switchgear and miles of glossy carbon fiber trim all screams money. Its updated — and larger — screen is much more befitting of the 8 Series, and opting for a flashy color like the Sakhir Orange in this tester helps up the atmosphere by a lot. However. The aforementioned Lexus LC 500 executes its interior — with both elegance and sportiness — better than any model in this class.
Price could still be a deterrent to M8 ownership, but now it’s much closer in line with competitors like the Porsche 911, Jaguar F-Type, Lexus LC 500 and perhaps even the Chevrolet Corvette E-Ray or Z06 variants. The lack of an S-Class Coupe with an AMG version practically hands BMW the big V8-powered German performance coupe market, and boy am I glad it’s around and (quite vigorously) trumpeting its eight-cylinder horn. Those less thrilled with BMW’s recent design language will find both a traditional look with the modern thrum of an M car in this gorgeous coupe, and that’s something we hope to appreciate for as long as BMW is happy to provide.