“Bloody hell, that’s ugly,” CT video chief Alex Kersten observed of ‘my’ BMW 840d Gran Coupe as he dismounted ‘his’ Honda CBR500R. We’d met up (pre-lockdown) to get some photos in the bag of both car and bike, and his comments took me aback.
Until then, I’d considered the GC to be a good looking thing. A shining, handsome light in the gloomy state BMW‘s styling department finds itself in these days. But while I certainly don’t think the four-door 8er is ‘ugly’, I’m wondering if it’s quite the handsome brute I originally thought.
It doesn’t help that, as we’re living in semi-quarantine in the UK right now, there’s not much I can do other than look at it. After all, the only time I can drive it under the government’s social distancing guidelines is to go to the local supermarket every week, a five-minute dash I still savour in the absence of any other behind-the-wheel activity.
Perhaps the reason I’ve admired the 8-series Gran Coupe is down to its contemporaries. Yes, the M2 Competition is one of my favourite-looking new cars at the moment, but it’ll soon be going, and the rest of the current BMW stable isn’t as easy on the eye.
We now have to contend with the giant kidney grilles of the X3, 4, 5, 6, 7, the 7-series and soon, the 4-series. The 1-series looks more awkward than I did the last time I tried ice skating, and the 2-series Gran Coupe is arguably even worse; there’s just so much going on in the rear-three quarter.
There is method in BMW’s madness. It’s favouring shock value above all else, primarily to court buyers from the Chinese market. But other premium manufacturers are making the same considerations in more tasteful ways. Jaguar’s new design boss recently criticised the big grille trend, and although he didn’t name names, it was pretty clear he was taking aim at BMW.
Even the less ostentatious stuff has issues. The G20 3-series looks good on first inspection, but I can’t unsee the weird join at the bottom of the A-pillar that a fellow motoring journalist pointed out to me a little while back. And yes, there’s the 8-series Gran Coupe to mull over.
I don’t have any issues with the front end; the kidney grilles are pretty giant, but they just about stay out of excessive territory. But the rear is fussy in places, and the way the roofline has been raised to give more room in the back has given the 8er GC an awkward profile from some angles. I’m not sure the 200mm longer wheelbase does it any favours, either.
When the 6-series was still around, the general consensus seemed to be that the four-door Gran Coupe was more attractive than the conventional two-door. But here, I reckon it’s the other way around. The two-door 8-series looks great whichever way you approach it. But I’m constantly seeing angles from which the GC doesn’t quite look right.
I do think it could be helped with spec, as evidenced by the way the M8 Gran Coupe used in the original press pack was optioned. All of those moody ‘Shadowline’ black trim pieces can be specced on any 8-series. But overall, I am still very much on the fence about the GC.
With that in mind, I wondered what you think. Is the 8-series Gran Coupe handsome, or not? Make your voice heard in the poll below: