In the first decades of the 20th century, European luxury car manufacturers specialized in big, powerful, open top cars that were marketed to the wealthy and noble families. For their time, these cars were the most powerful machines on the road, and they offered crazy luxury features such as brakes on all four wheels. Brands like Bentley, Mercedes-Benz, Bugatti, and BMW all sought to have the fastest, smoothest cars in the world.
The 2020 BMW M8 Competition Convertible is the modern equivalent of those patrician roadsters. This car is fast, comfortable, smooth, and expensive. A driver can drop the convertible top, get out on the Autobahn, and let the big car rocket towards its destination. Of course, in Oregon our rocketing is limited to 65 MPH, but in theory, you could run it up to the manufacturer's electronically governed top speed of 155 MPH. If that's not fast enough, BMW can raise the top speed to 189 MPH for you.
That dizzying speed comes from a 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8 engine good for 617 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque. It's mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission with all-wheel-drive. That's good for a three-second 0-60 MPH time, which is just a heartbeat shy of the world's top supercars. However, the M8 is also perfectly manageable. The power is there if you demand it, but this car is perfectly well-behaved in parking lots and school zones.
Inside, you'll enjoy a luxury-sport interior treatment. The M8 Convertible (or Coupe) comes with comfortable M Sport seats. These are firm and supportive, and of course they're heated and ventilated. M8 Competition models additionally feature special M seatbelts with highlight stitching in BMW Motorsport colors. The rest of the interior trim is done in carbon fiber, or you can choose wood or glossy piano black.
There are rear seats, sort of. You could take four people in the car, but the ones in back would need short legs. It's best to consider the M8 a two-seater with a convenient place to put your stuff behind the front seats.
The M8 Competition steering wheel is state-of-the-art sports car tech. It includes paddle shifters and red M1 and M2 buttons which can be programmed with various engine, suspension, steering, AWD, and braking system modes. A new gear shift lever with red accent sits next to the red start/stop button in the center console. The whole effect is like a Formula One car morphed into a personal luxury convertible.
On the road, the M8 Competition is all about controlled power. If you step on the gas, this car can pin your head to the back of the seat, but that will never happen unless you really punch the throttle. The ride is quite firm, but not harsh. If you want something softer, BMW makes any number of models, including the standard 8-series, with smoother suspensions. The M8 is a car for the true enthusiast. In our on-road testing, we never even got close to the limits of handling, braking, and acceleration. We would need to take the M8 to a race track to get anywhere near those limits.
One of the interesting parts of the handling equation is the AWD system. BMW made a rear-biased setup that sends torque to the front wheels only when the rear wheels reach the limit of traction. This system delivers a traditional rear-wheel drive driving experience with the added traction of all four wheels when the engine's full power output is required. So you can drive the M8 year-round without worries.
So, what do you have to spend to get all this performance? The 2020 M8 Competition Convertible starts at $155,000, but you can knock that down to $121,400 if you choose the less powerful M850i convertible, and you'll still get 523 horsepower and all-wheel-drive. For $1,700 extra, you can get the Driving Assistance Professional Package with features like adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assistance, automatic lane change, and front cross-traffic alerts. It's a comparatively tiny additional cost for a lot of useful tech.
The bottom line on the 2020 BMW M8 Competition Convertible is that if you price it against supercars, you can get about 90 percent of the performance of an exotic for about 30 percent of the price. You'll get a car that's easy to drive every day, and the top comes down when it's sunny. It's hard to argue with any of that.
2020 BMW M8 Competition Convertible
Base price: $155,000
Price as tested: $158,300
Type: Personal luxury convertible
Engine: 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 (617 hp, 553 lbs-ft)
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
EPA estimated mileage: 15/21
Overall length: 191.8 inches
Curb weight: 4,251 pounds
Final assembly: Dingolfing, Germany
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