“Nobody needs an open-topped car with the performance of the BMW M8 Convertible, but we’re mighty glad it exists. Compromises and all…”
Compromise is what you could say the BMW M8 Convertible is all about. BMW M sprinkles its magic dust over the 8 Series Coupé, resulting in the 625hp all wheel-drive monster we’ve already confirmed is worthy of its M stripes. Then the top is taken off. To maintain rigidity, the M8 Convertible’s body strengthening adds a significant 125kg. That’s about equivalent to carrying two lanky teenagers in the back seats all the time.
Not that you’ll be doing that in the M8 Convertible, because said teenagers would likely not put up with the more upright backrests, the pinched shoulder space and effectively non-existent room for their legs or feet. That’s probably just as well, as, if you intend to test the M8 Convertible’s considerable performance when the soft top is down, you’ll need to use the fiddly windbreaker in any case, which sits over the rear ‘seats’.
There’s more. While the operation of the snug-fitting soft-top is super-slick, taking just 15-seconds to open or close, at speeds of just over 30mph (or by using the standard BMW Display Key for maximum pose value as you approach the car), you’ll be left red-faced if you forget to move the partition in the boot into the correct position beforehand. And doing that draws attention to how much smaller the boot of the 8 Series Convertible is in comparison to its Coupé sibling, even if it does retain the ability to fold the rear seats forward and use that otherwise useless passenger space as extra luggage carrying capacity.
So, in summary, the M8 Convertible is heavier, less structurally stiff, less practical in terms of rear passenger and boot space and, while we’re complaining, it also must do without BMW’s gesture control system, as the cameras are usually mounted in the headlining. Oh, and you pay an additional $8921 for the privilege when compared with the M8 Coupé (while the M8 Competition Gran Coupe is a massive $12107 less). There can be no rational reason for this car to exist. But give even a hardened petrol head the keys, point them at an interesting road and give them strict instructions to leave the roof down and I’ll wager they’ll come back some time later with a massive grin plastered across their face. If they do come back. In short, it doesn’t matter one iota if the M8 Competition Convertible isn’t, by any logical measure, as good a car as one of its tin-topped siblings; it’s still a phenomenal creation.
Nobody needs to corner faster than the M8 Convertible can. It belies its weight and just attacks any given road with vigour, offering rapid response to your inputs at the wheel with little or no slack in the body. The rear-biased xDrive system lets you feel like you’re involved in meting out the engine’s goods to the wheels while giving you utter confidence to deploy full power whenever the road opens out.
That’s true on damp surfaces as well, though it feels wide to thread down a B-road and the two-mode brake feel system is a little weird, but those things are true of the M8 Coupé, too. Honestly, you’ll need a stopwatch and a professional driver at the wheel to detect a noticeable difference between the two cars, and then we’re talking about speeds that just don’t apply to the real world.
Let’s not forget that the M8 Convertible still has a twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 petrol engine up front, designed and developed by the rather talented girls and boys at BMW M. Its peak power figure of 625hp tells only half the story (though that enables it to headbutt even the raised speed limiter at 189mph without breaking a sweat). As we’ve already seen in the M5 Competition, this engine’s tractability at low to medium speeds is what makes it special, shoving the car relentlessly toward the horizon and your head back into the soft Merino leather upholstered headrest of the special seats. The maximum torque output, 553lb ft, is on tap from just 1800rpm, and it doesn’t let up until 5800rpm. By which time the M8 Convertible is really shifting, in a time warp, planet shifting kind of way. Fully unleashed, this car has the ability to scare its passengers just with its straight-line speed.
Nonetheless, it doesn’t need to be driven like it’s been stolen to enjoy. And this is where the Convertible has the advantage over the Coupé, as, with the roof down, the sensation of speed is heightened, while the boisterous rumblings from the quad exhausts are unhindered by a sound-deadening roof.
Believe me, you’ll want to keep it in Sport Plus mode for that reason alone, even if it’s a little aggressive in its throttle response in traffic, and maybe a tad too attention-grabbing on the overrun with its (wonderfully) unnecessary pops and bangs. Then again, if we drag out the age-old stereotypes, buyers of open-topped cars are only interested in being seen, right? Even if that is partially true, who’s to say that people that want to be seen don’t also want the fastest 8 Series money can buy? If you’re in that bracket, we suspect you’re not the type of person that likes to compromise. Therefore you’ll like the M8 Convertible.
Watch this video for First Drive BMW M8 Convertible