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The 2023 BMW M8 Competition Coupe proves an old point

The BMW M8 Competition Coupe is a combination of many things, but is it different enough from an M5 to make it unique?


Kids. If you have one, you’re already smiling (or sighing). And if you don’t, well, you’re already smiling…or sighing. I love seeing things through the eyes of my daughter as she experiences life events for the first time. And as I encouraged her to fold her tiny body into the back seat of this BMW M8 Competition Coupe for a ride to school, I could see a disgruntled look on her face.

“Daddy. I don’t like this car.”


BMW M8 Competition Coupe

2023 BMW M8 Competition Coupe Quick Take

Get one:

Classic BMW styling. Daytona Blue is yummy. Long live the S63 V-8. As fast as a Z06.

Don’t get one:

No different in feel or feedback from an M5, but much more impractical. Some low-rent interior bits. How much for how much?

Soul Score: 7

The poster child for being fast and feeling fast as two separate entities.

BMW M8 Competition Coupe Overview

BMW M8 Competition Coupe

Did she just say she didn’t like this Individual Daytona Blue, fully loaded, 617-horsepower M car? I have failed in my duty as a father and apparently taught her nothing.

Problem is, she’s got a point. It’s tight back there – isn’t this supposed to be a somewhat practical grand touring coupe? No? Okay, how about a track attack monster? What’s that – you could think of three-letter nameplates like 911 and Z06 that make better asphalt beasts?

Ah, I know – it’s a really sexy M5. But the M5 isn’t the awkward teenager anymore – it’s now beautiful too. Oh, but the M8 is luxurious and comfortable! Except BMW will gladly sell you that Alpina B8 right over there, and it’s much more comfortable.

BMW M8 Competition Coupe

Turns out, this M8 is a bit of all of those things rolled into an MSRP of $161,895. The result is a car who’s mission has become cloudy, lost in the shuffle of high-performance machines at this surprisingly crowded price point.

Speaking of points, the M8 does prove one – BMWs are much better cars when you keep the sticker below six figures (not you M5, I love you).

Why is that? Let’s go for a drive.

Performance Score: 7. So fast, it leaves your excitement in the dust

BMW M8 Competition Coupe

I can assure you that the M5, M8 and B8 are all very different cars despite sharing so much in family genes. That means you get our favorite, the S63 V-8, along with goodies like carbon ceramic brakes, a carbon roof, and an exhaust note that only wakes up if you’ve been launched off the U.S.S. Nimitz.

But while we can forgive the M5 for being somewhat detached at the helm because it’s a practical family sedan, the M8 gets no such pass. This should be a ferocious sports car that makes no excuses. So let’s make none.


BMW M8 Competition Coupe
As usual, I prefer the Sport + throttle setting. M buttons save two presets.

The S63 remains one of BMWs best engines to date. It’s so well-behaved around town, never uncouth. Once on the highway, you can summon a gigantic tsunami of power at any time by simply lowering your foot on the throttle by a fraction of an inch. When it comes to power delivery, M knows what it’s doing – peak power is at 6,000 RPM, but full torque is online at just 1,800. Both of those figures are identical to the M5, and both cars give the sensation of “Push me, or don’t. I don’t give a damn.”

This is M’s first mistake – there’s nothing separating it from an F90. It’s okay to want to rev this motor – make me work for it a little. Give me a bit of bad behavior.

BMW M8 Competition Coupe
It’s quiet, except when it’s droning.

Their second mistake is the exhaust. It’s quiet around town (too quiet), but once you’re on the highway, my God does it drone. I had to turn off the active sound because of the booming in the cabin. Stop making that face at the screen – remember the M3 is straight-piped, and that doesn’t drone nearly as badly. The M5 did none of this.

Funny part is, an M850i actually seems louder at low speeds. There’s a white one at school drop off that I hear each morning. The owner puts it in sport mode, and it reverberates much more than the M8 (in a good way).

Any AMG V-8 is louder and more aurally pleasing. Forget about the Blackwing, or F-TYPE.


BMW M8 Competition Coupe
Typical ZF greatness.

I’m not going to hang out here long – it’s the same ZF trans in everything else, and it’s amazing as always. BMW gives you identical gear ratios to the M5.

The transmission sends power to all four wheels, and you can usher the entire herd to the back two for hilarious burnouts and drifts. Those lamenting about a four-wheel drive M car should be satiated by now – it works, and it works well.

I can say that in the M8, you get a modern shifter from the M3 as oppose to the F-16 joystick in the F90 that was out of place but sort of fun.

Maybe you’ll feel inspired. Reach for those paddle shifters behind the wheel and…wait a minute. Am I in the X3 M40i? It seems BMW forgot to spec the carbon paddles from the M2 and M3 here, and the result is no where near as special as in say, an Aston, where you hear a snick with each pull. Tiny here too – with 617 horses on tap, I want things easily accessible.

Steering and Chassis

BMW M8 Competition Coupe
Same as always.

I want you to know that I sat in this car and drove it down to Philly and back, really focusing on finding some steering feedback or feel. But it’s still not there. The E92 M3 I drove back-to-back with this made it even more apparent. But we’ve been complaining about that forever. Maybe let Alpina into M headquarters for a slumber party and have them work on it together.

BMW M8 Competition Coupe
The ride is. So. Harsh…
BMW M8 Competition Coupe
But you can do this in one, and that’s fun.

One area that BMW did change from the M5 (or at least felt like it) was in the suspension calibration. It’s more harsh, and though there’s almost no body-roll, the BMW M8 Competition Coupe is still too heavy and wide to feel nimble. That takes some of the fun away. At 4,300 pounds, you pay a penalty for all-wheel drive.

If you’re taking the M8 on a road trip that’s say, beyond your driveway, you’re going to want to make sure the suspension is in Comfort mode. I could not drive it any other way, or else the ride would become less “Clarkson’s Farm”, more “Clarkson Top Gear”. The seats don’t help, but we’ll get there later. This just isn’t a very good grand touring machine.

To the M8’s credit, once you fix the settings and settle down into a highway cruise, it will eat up miles at a steady 90 MPH (and it’s not even breathing hard). But if you find a rut in the road…BOOM.


BMW M8 Competition Coupe
Carbon ceramics are an option.

Optional carbon ceramics brakes work well as always – they screech a bit in the cold, but the tradeoff is worth it if you’re going to track this car (or wash it).

The M5 was missing the adjustable brake pedal, but the M8 has it, and this should be left in Sport mode or the pedal feels squishy. With cars like the Vantage and Z06 having such an instantaneous reaction with their brakes, it’s curious that M maintains a softer edge.

Overall, it’s hard not to be disappointed. The M8 will do big smelly drifts, gets to sixty in 2.5 seconds and ties the Z06 at the finish line of a quarter mile. But if you think that makes them equal, than you’re missing the point of Machines With Souls.

Utility Score: 3. Leave the kids at home. Or the car.

BMW M8 Competition Coupe
A shallow trunk is at least more useful than what’s in a Vantage.

There are no 10.5 quarter-mile drag ways on the way to my daughter’s school. Instead, she’s greeted by a roofline so low in the back seat that it could have been inspired by a guillotine. The M2 – much better. Even the SL63, a convertible, fit more comfortably.

The trunk is a good size, as long as you don’t need to carry anything too tall. This all comes back to the M5’s practicality vs the M8’s supposed good looks and how much you’re willing to sacrifice. I’m okay with the diminished drive feel in the M5 because it really is meant to be a daily driver. This car, not so much.

The carbon bucket seats

BMW M8 Competition Coupe
This quilted pattern helps give some nice detail to an otherwise drab interior.

My opinion on them has changed from the first time I had them.

If you don’t opt for them, they give you what’s in my M3 as basic seats, an odd choice because the M5’s are even better. This is a cost cutting measure, because the M5’s wouldn’t fold, but the M3’s (M4’s) will.

But let’s say you do opt for them.

BMW M8 Competition Coupe
The seats are stunning.

First, getting in and out is still a literal pain in the ass. Land on the scalloped edge instead of the seat as you sit down, and you’ll discover that this M8 is the first BMW to feature a colonoscopy with every drive. These seats are better than getting in and out of the Vanquish, but that’s more to do with the ride height than the seat itself. My wife hated them too, so do not expect marital bliss if you check this option box.

But, either I’ve lost some weight, or they are wider than the M3’s buckets, because once you’re in them, they feel great. It helps to not have a clutch pedal so your left leg is still, but they are more supportive than the regular seats. Not much more supportive, but if you’re intent on tracking this, I might pick them.

I said might…

Fuel Economy: 8: Still M Great

BMW M8 Competition Coupe

We could probably repeat the M5’s portion verbatim, but suffice it to say that the V-8 does really well, averaging around 20 MPG as I zoomed about. It’s probably the most efficient V-8 over 600 horsepower (that’s a guess, but if it ain’t, it’s at least close).

Is it enough to make me prefer it over the 15 MPG of a Vette? Bro, I just dropped $160k on a blue BMW – does it look like I care about gas prices?

Features and Comfort: 7. What BMW am I in?

BMW M8 Competition Coupe

About 15 months ago, I gave that M5 a score of ten here. But that car, individual paint and carbon ceramic brakes included, rang the register at just over $139,000. Now we pile another $20 grand on top of it, with all those months of aging in between, and things start to get a little iffy.

One size does not fit all

BMW M8 Competition Coupe
My X3 M40i has the same wheel. Why didn’t they put carbon fiber trim on it at least?

The reaper has come. In a 2 series, an M3, even a basic 840i – nice inside. Fine. Logically laid out, big screens, digital dashes. But in an M8, I want to feel special, and I just don’t.

Forget the goth black interior, because it looks better once you select a brighter shade. The quilted leather pattern on the doors and seat backs elevate the look above that of even the Alpina B8. And the seats are stunning to behold.

BMW M8 Competition Coupe
Big doors lead to a cabin that’s somewhat tight inside.

But elsewhere we get the dashboard, steering wheel and climate controls recycled from other BMWs. Ambient lighting isn’t even installed in the rear, like the M2. Well, the M2 costs $100,000 less. Hopping from the Z06 into this didn’t feel like an upgrade, and that’s a Chevy. Also, why no seat belt butler? I needed to reach way back in order to bucket up each time I got in. The M4 has them – did BMW just forget?

I suppose being spared iDrive 8 is a plus, along with actual climate controls. It’s not enough to pine for this over an M2 though.

BMW M8 Competition Coupe
One of the last to have iDrive 7 – it’s odd to park this next to a new 7 Series and call it a technology leader.
BMW M8 Competition Coupe
These light up, so that’s a nice touch.

If you’re wondering what my perfect combination might be, it’s the Alpina’s two-tone look with M5 seats and the quilted leather of the M8. Too bad they don’t make that combo.

BMW M8 Competition Coupe
To get in the back seat, pull this handle and the front will motor forward automatically.
BMW M8 Competition Coupe
This example provides an example of the diamond pattern in a better color.

M. Performance.

BMW M8 Competition Coupe

It’s amazing what a special color can do for this car, because without it, I have no idea what I’m looking at. 840i M Sport? M850i? M8 – I can’t even tell the difference with this LCI.

Up close, some of the cool kit becomes apparent with carbon fiber mirrors, intakes, side vents and a small lip spoiler. The roof returns as well. It’s a big car, but imposing more because of its size than looks. The doors are big too – I couldn’t open them fully to get out if I put it in the garage, and Daytona Blue streaks just wouldn’t look good on my Portimao M3’s fender.

BMW M8 Competition Coupe
The Carbon Fiber Package adds some much needed flair to the exterior.
BMW M8 Competition Coupe
At least no black trim here. You know how much I love that.
BMW M8 Competition Coupe

No doubt, the 8 Series is a great-looking car, but I prefer the classy stature of the Alpina. All those slats and slits look good on smaller Ms, but they just seem out of place here.

The BMW M8 Competition Coupe is a great car, it’s just not a great sports car

BMW M8 Competition Coupe

At seven years old, I was in the back of my dad’s Nissan Stanza. I can’t imagine what I’d have thought of this thing. It would have been inconceivable – please don’t think I dislike the M8, because it’s an amazing car.

But to impress my kid takes more – she’s shared almost all the rides with me, and she’s always excited to see what press car comes home next. Of course the color made her eyes go wide, but once we settled in…

BMW M8 Competition Coupe

“Daddy, I like the M2 better.”

Yea, me too Maddie. The interior is actually nicer, there’s more room in the back, and it’s much more fun to drive. Everything in that car feels fun and energetic. The M8 is old and stodgy.

At the as-tested price of $161,895, it’s pretty much at the pinnacle of BMW pricing (aside from the XM). That’s almost three M2s.

Rumor has it that BMW won’t continue this car’s namesake once the F92 goes away, and that’s okay with me. SUVs like the X6 M use the same bits and provide a similar, if taller, driving experience.

No, the issue here is price. Like the original 8 Series with its V-12, the M6 with its V-10, or this M8, BMW and big coupes have never been a really successful combination. I think people expect more, and rightfully so.

Don’t worry Maddie, you won’t have to climb into the back seat again.

BMW M8 Competition Coupe

2023 BMW M8 Competition Coupe Specifications

Vehicle Type: Front-engine, all-wheel-drive, two-door, four-passenger coupe.


Base: $130,000
As tested: $161,895


4.4 liter twin turbocharged V-8
617 @ 6,000 RPM
553 @ 1,800 RPM
Eight-speed automatic transmission


Wheelbase: 111.1 in
Length: 191.2 in
Width: 74.9 in
Height: 53 in
Curb Weight: 4,295 lbs


Combined/city/highway: 17 / 15 / 22 MPG

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