Matt Robinson profile picture Matt Robinson 2 months ago 11
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7 Things I've Learned From BMW 8-Series Gran Coupe 'Ownership'

We've been driving an 840d Gran Coupe for a couple of months - here's what we've discovered so far

Remind me later
BMW - 7 Things I've Learned From BMW 8-Series Gran Coupe 'Ownership' - Blog

We’re coming up on two months with ‘our’ 840d Gran Coupe, during which time we’ve clocked nearly 2000 miles. We’ve mostly enjoyed our time with it thus far, although we do have a handful of misgivings.

Here’s what we’ve learned so far:

It's massive

BMW - 7 Things I've Learned From BMW 8-Series Gran Coupe 'Ownership' - Blog

To accommodate the extra pair of doors, BMW stretched the wheelbase of the 8-series by 200mm. That means there’s plenty of legroom in the back, but it has resulted in something absolutely massive. The GC is just 5cm shorter than a 7-series, which becomes painfully obvious when you’re searching for a space to parallel park into.

It's just about good enough as a cruiser

BMW - 7 Things I've Learned From BMW 8-Series Gran Coupe 'Ownership' - Blog

Unlike Mercedes’ comparable four-door cars, the 8er GC runs on conventional steel springs, rather than air. It’s this decision that gives it a bit of a confused identity - is it trying to be a sports car or a grand tourer? In the end, it lands somewhere in the middle, not hitting either genre as successfully as we’d like.

That said, it is still - though far from class-leading - very good at big journeys. I took the car on a 640-mile round trip to Edinburgh, and it wafted up there and back again nicely. The ride is just about smooth enough, the seats comfortable and supportive (once you’ve fiddled with the lumbar), and the interior is a decent space. It just isn’t as good at any of that stuff as a similar-sized Mercedes.

Economy is great, considering the performance and the weight

Yes, I've taken the 840d through a McDrive. Don't judge...
Yes, I've taken the 840d through a McDrive. Don't judge...

With a two-tonne kerb weight and 316bhp on tap from a 3.0-litre twin-turbo diesel six, the 840d is both heavy and powerful. Fuel economy is respectful considering this - our average throughout the loan is well over 40mpg (admittedly most miles have been on the motorway), and if you’re careful enough on longer trips, high 40s are achievable.

Plus, with a 68-litre fuel capacity, it has an excellent range. That aforementioned road trip would have been just about doable on a single tank, had I not been tempted by cheap Scottish fuel prices on the return leg.

Pre-conditioning is awesome

The 840d's giant LCD key seems worth it, now...
The 840d's giant LCD key seems worth it, now...

A good chunk of modern car tech can be classified as gimmicks - needless complications no one needed nor asked for. 840d’s pre-conditioning feature is not something we’d class as such. On the colder days we’ve had lately, being able to heat the car up a few minutes before getting in has been a godsend. It’s so good, it inspired a whole blog about modern car tech we actually dig.

Gesture control is a pointless gimmick

BMW - 7 Things I've Learned From BMW 8-Series Gran Coupe 'Ownership' - Blog

One thing that is firmly in gimmick territory, however, is the gesture control system. On the few times I’ve tried to use it in the 840d, my hand movements haven’t been quite right for it to work. Plus, I set it off accidentally at least a few times each drive. And what’s the point when you have a steering wheel full of buttons?

The rear-wheel steering is obvious

BMW - 7 Things I've Learned From BMW 8-Series Gran Coupe 'Ownership' - Blog

All-wheel steering has had something of a resurgence in recent years. We’ve tested all sorts of models with rear-steer, but out of all of them, the 8er GC’s system might just be the most conspicuous in its operation. Particularly at low speeds, you can really feel the back end pivoting. It’s an odd sensation, but at low speeds - given the size of the car - the extra manouverability is welcome.

It's mountain bike friendly (ish)

BMW - 7 Things I've Learned From BMW 8-Series Gran Coupe 'Ownership' - Blog

The 840d is hardly prime hashtaglifestyle transport, but if you do own an 8er GC and fancy heading off to shred some gnar, be assured that even a long-framed, modern geometry mountain bike with fat ‘plus’ tyres will go in the back (with a tarp down first, I’m not an animal). You need to take the front wheel off first, but that’s not much of a chore. Unlike the old 4-series Gran Coupe, though, this thing doesn’t have a hatchback-style boot, so loading the thing in can be a tad tricky.