BMW M8 review: Have a laugh with your M8

BMW's fire-breathing M8 is a technology tour de force.

Algarve, Portugal

LIKE most modern devices, the instruction manual for the BMW M8 Competition Coupe we're driving has gone digital. Thankfully you can access specific items via the voice-activated Personal Assistant, because, given how many different chassis and powertrain configurations are available for the Drive Settings alone, a printed manual would have been as thick as China's phonebook.

Things weren't always this bewildering, but like many of BMW M's latter-day cars, the M8 Competition is a car with an extraordinary breadth of talent. It's comfy as an executive limo one moment, and a supercar slayer the next.

The driving/comfort dynamics have to encompass a broad enough spectrum to cater to the wider buying demographic such cars have come to attract, and adding plenty of tech is how BMW M pulls it off.

Even pressing the brake pedal is now a matter of electronics. New in the M8 Competition is a BMW M-tuned integrated braking system, that lets you toggle the brake pedal feel between Comfort and Sport settings.

Don't scoff. This was useful because it made operation of the optional carbon-ceramic brakes easier to modulate and less grabby in start-stop city traffic.

In "Sport" on winding roads and the track, the pedal feel was firm, reassuring and translated to immediate retardation when you stomped on it.

While all this fiddling around gives tech fans something to geek out over, it's also possible to get in and drive the M8 without reading the manual if you're accustomed to BMW's current interface.

That's what you want to do with any M model, really - drive it like you stole it, because it's only as you're raging around the track at the upper reaches of the rev band and g-counter that the M cars really come alive.

Except the M8 Competition proves to be a genuinely engaging cross-country grand tourer as well, and one with a useable trunk and two rear seats to boot - as proper GTs should have.

The M8 Competition sees a bump to 625 horsepower over the 600hp of the regular M8s, but that's moot since Singapore will only get Competition versions of the Coupe, Gran Coupe and Convertible.

There is a lesser model, the M850i xDrive, and if that is scotch on-the-rocks, the M8 Competition is an unadulterated, 100 proof experience that will see your eyes streaming and neck muscles straining from the monumental thrust of its 4.4-litre V8.

The M8 Competition Coupe will demolish the 0-100km/h blast in 3.2 seconds, which is no mean feat considering it weighs 1.9 tonnes. However, it's not just a straight-line hero.

Although the M8 does without the M850i xDrive's active rear-steering, its M xDrive drivetrain can be toggled between 4WD, 4WD Sport and even full 2WD modes, with the latter offering the familiar white-knuckled driving thrills long-time M fans will enjoy.

We'd have preferred more steering feel, but there's an incisive agility to the M8 Competition that lets you tackle the winding roads with gusto, to the accompaniment of a fire-and-brimstone soundtrack that practically heralds the Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

Its manual may be digital, but the M8's pleasures are delivered strictly in the real world.

BMW M8 Competition Coupe

Engine 4,395cc, twin-turbo V8
Power 625hp at 6,000rpm
Torque 750Nm at 1,800-5,800rpm
Gearbox 8-speed automatic
0-100km/h 3.2 seconds
Top Speed 250km/h (electronically limited)
Fuel Efficiency 10.6L/100km
Agent Performance Munich Automobiles
Price S$725,888 with COE
Available Q1 2020

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