CarSifu drives BMW M850i xDrive coupe in Melbourne

Driving the BMW M850i xDrive coupe in chilly autumn weather on countryside roads near Melbourne, Australia is certainly an exhilarating experience.

The two-door, four-seater grand-touring sports coupe is big and loud at full throttle, with a mighty 530hp 4.4-litre V8 twin-turbocharged petrol engine.

Mated to a eight-speed Steptronic Sport transmission, you get a heart-thumping maximum torque of 750Nm from a low 1,800rpm and a adrenaline-inducing zero to 100kph sprint in just 3.7 seconds.

This luxury athlete was launched by BMW Group Malaysia in March at nearly RM1.1 million without insurance, and we understand that it has seen no shortage of orders from Malaysians with very deep pockets.

And this is perfectly understandable as the new 8 Series is a very fast, yet luxurious creature with an aggressive personality that is brought to the fore when we select the Sport or Sport Plus drive modes.

This is where your ears are thrilled by a distinctively sporty exhaust roar as you step hard on the accelerator pedal, and the car takes off like a thoroughbred racehorse.

BMW M850i xDrive coupe (1)

To sample the charms of BMW's ultimate grand tourer, we were sent to Melbourne, Australia where a media drive for the M850i xDrive coupe had been arranged on country roads surrounding the Mitchelton Winery Estate, located near Nagambie town which is a 90-minute drive from Melbourne city.

Developed alongside the BMW M8 GTE race car, the new 8 Series coupe has a strikingly long bonnet with a low-slung, sporty design and a powerful-looking shoulderline.

It certainly looks like it is meant to slice through air, with its athletic contours and sleek LED headlights - the slimmest headlights ever on a BMW.

It also came fitted with the optional BMW Laserlight technology which provides a high beam range of around 600 metres - meaning you can see twice as far down the road compared with traditional light systems.

BMW M850i xDrive coupe (2)

Our test drive unit had big 20-inch M light alloy wheels wrapped with French made Michelin Pilot Sport 4S ultra high performance tyres sized 245/35 (front) and 275/30 (rear).

While it's built for speed and driving thrills, it also provides practicality with a 420-litre boot to store our luggage, as well as a storage compartment with a USB port between the front seats and cup holders in the centre console.

The fine-grain Merino leather upholstery feels luxurious and fantastic, and we could hardly wait for our 50-minute dynamic drive session on a 56km route on narrow country roads in the late autumn chill.

We roared past huge pastures with cows and sheep munching contentedly on the grass, and the M850i xDrive coupe negotiated the backcountry tarmac with poise and precision at decently high speeds.

This is expected as the car was developed on the race track, and has a rear-biased BMW xDrive all-wheel-drive for top-notch handling during dynamic driving.

BMW M850i xDrive coupe (3)

Our test drive unit also had the M Performance-tuned Adaptive M Suspension Professional which provides active anti-roll stabilisation, for flatter cornering and even better handling at high speeds.

It also has Integral Active Steering which reduces the car’s turning circle when manoeuvring and improved agility.

There is an impressive amount of technology here, including a BMW Carbon Core centre transmission tunnel for lower weight and extra rigidity, resulting in even better ride and handling.

BMW took special pains to tell this narrative, with the words "Carbon Core" positioned proudly below the M50i written on the door sill.

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The short drive on south-eastern Australian roads also took us through Seymour, a small and quiet town, where we slowed down and cruised at a relaxed pace.

The powerful 4.4-litre V8 twin-turbocharged petrol engine provides abundant low-end torque, and once we hit the town outskirts, the M850i sped off like a hungry cheetah sprinting after prey.

Delivering all the monstrous power is the smooth-shifting ZF eight-speed automatic which has been improved with lower weight, a new controller and an increased gear ratio spread for an even more refined drive at higher speeds.

We used Sport mode most of the time, and in this mode, the exhaust roar and sprinting response are particularly aggressive.

The M850i feels quite planted when driven at speed on twisty roads, and despite the big wheels, sports suspension and performance tyres, still provides plenty of comfort on bumpy surfaces.

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We never felt any discomfort on the 56km drive and enjoyed the high ride quality, even on the rougher stretches of the countryside roads.

Of course, one quirk is the rear seating which is perhaps only comfortable for small kids.

Overall, the new 8 Series is exceptionally comfortable for two adults who want to do some high-speed travelling in a flamboyant and strikingly expensive sports coupe.

BMW M850i xDrive coupe
Engine: 4,395cc V8, M Performance TwinPower Turbo petrol

Maximum power: 530hp at 5,500 to 6,000rpm

Maximum torque: 750Nm at 1,800 to 4,600rpm

Transmission: eight-speed Steptronic Sport automatic

Features: Adaptive M Suspension, BMW Laserlight, Harman Kardon surround sound system with digital amplifier (464W, 16 speakers), Integral Active Steering, 19-inch M Sport brake with blue painted M Calipers, Head-Up Display, Parking Assistant (automatic parking for parallel and perpendicular manoeuvres)

Safety features: Front airbags, side, curtain, head and knee airbags, Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), Active cruise control with Stop&Go function, rear ISOFIX child seat mounts, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Change Warning, Pedestrian Collision Warning, Crossing Traffic Warning (front and rear), Emergency Stop Assistant, Steering and Lane Control Assistant, Lane Keeping Assistant with Active Side Collision Protection and Evasion Aid, Rear-view Camera

After-sales highlights: BMW 5-year unlimited mileage warranty with free scheduled service programme, 2-year/ 24-month tyre warranty

Price (on the road, without insurance): RM1,088,800

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Autos BMW