This revised BMW M8 Competition Coupé, the explosive 616bhp V8 range-topper in the ever-growing BMW M range, is more model-year change than mid-life refresh. It is billed as the latter but is in reality the former because the changes only really go skin deep.
They extend to new colour, wheel and trim options, a bigger infotainment screen inside and lightly tweaked front-end styling.
However, BMW now wants you to consider the 7- and 8-baged models at the top of its range as true luxury cars rather than mere premium ones. Thus, the M8 is labelled by its maker as a luxury sports car, one that swells to just over £150,000 with the £20k of options as fitted here and into Aston Martin Vantage territory and not a million miles away from a Bentley Continental GT. So it’s with this fresh branding and approach in mind that we will assess it.
Whatever the marketeers at BMW might say, these changes and that repositioning have had no impact on the main elephant in the room with the M8: that it does not successfully satisfy either the role of a sports car or a GT.
The M8 never quite knows what it wants to be. The performance and acceleration is equivalent to that of a supercar, and so easily and effortlessly accessed with monster levels of grip and stability to boot.
That’s of course in no small part to the excellent 4.4-litre V8 engine, and the eight-speed automatic gearbox and all-wheel drive system. It’s less the power, more the 553lb ft of torque you notice the most. Peak torque arrives at just 1800rpm and stays with you for more than 4000rpm more, and surges the M8 relentlessly forward in almost any scenario and gear. Shifts are slick and the way it gathers and carries speed is quite remarkable.
Yet all this power and torque is delivered in a way that’s all rather undramatic, as if the engine is shy of making any kind of V8 growl. It’s almost eerily quiet. If you’re buying a car like the M8, surely you want to make a bit of an entrance?
As for the handling, it’s unwilling or perhaps more likely unable to immerse you fully in attacking your favourite B-road due to the sheer size and weight of it. Our road test of the M8 a couple of years ago found hidden depths to the car when on a track, but on the road, it just falls a bit flat for an M car and feels precise and predictable in its handling rather than exciting. And it’s by these standards you must judge it: it is not an M Performance model, remember, and is sold and marketed as a full-fat M car. More engaging handling should be a given.