The BMW 8-Series Works So Much Better With A Diesel Engine

The straight-six diesel in the 840d is a much better fit than the M850i's V8, and not just because of the economy potential
The BMW 8-Series Works So Much Better With A Diesel Engine

Although you’ve come here to read about the 3.0-litre straight-six diesel version of the new BMW 8-series, I’m going to start by talking about the Mitsubishi Outlander. Yes, really.

Not because I took some strong substances before opening my laptop. No: it’s because the Outlander is a great example of the tide turning against diesel. When talking to Rob Lindley - Mitsubishi UK’s MD - at the Geneva Motor Show, he mentioned that Mitsubishi has actually stopped importing the sole oil-burning version of the vehicle, so once stocks are depleted, you’ll only be able to have it as either a plug-in hybrid or petrol.

That would have been unthinkable a few years ago, wouldn’t it? We’re used to big, heavy SUVs only being available with diesel engines, not the other way around. And yet here we are. The Outlander is just one example of diesel demand spectacularly crashing, hastening the demise of thusly fuelled cars amid the rise of electrification.

The BMW 8-Series Works So Much Better With A Diesel Engine

It’s a shame as in some contexts, a diesel engine still makes so much sense. Take the BMW 8-series as an example. Certainly, I loved the M850i we tried earlier in the year. But the shouty, brawny nature of the twin-turbo V8 did often seem at odds with the 8er’s general characteristics - it’s a soft, wafty GT car which, though plenty capable thanks to its trick all-wheel drive system, feels at its most comfortable when cruising.

Sticking a 523bhp, 4.4-litre engine into the mix is surely like dropping a bunch of scotch bonnet chillis into a Lancashire hotpot. Interesting, of course, but the two things don’t really go together.

The BMW 8-Series Works So Much Better With A Diesel Engine

The straight-six twin-turbo diesel, though, is much more like it. You lose the V8 theatrics, but the quiet, reasonably refined 3.0-litre fits with the 8-series’ wafty nature so much better. The slick eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox - the use of which BMW has mastered more than anyone else - makes the most of the narrower powerband, ensuring fast progress is always effortless.

And the progress is indeed fast: it’ll manage 0-62mph from a standstill in 4.9 seconds, and while that’s well over a second off the V8, it’s not exactly slow, is it? Despite the pace, it’s still a very light drinker - 50mpg on a run is easily achievable, giving you a potential range well beyond 500 miles. In the M850i, you’ll struggle to get it into the high 20s even if you’re only tickling the throttle.

The BMW 8-Series Works So Much Better With A Diesel Engine

In terms of the way it goes around corners, it’s all pretty similar to the M850i, even though the 840d’s setup is softer still. It’s still awfully keen to send lots of power to the rear, it leans but not excessively so, and you sometimes get a little dose of understeer in tighter corners to remind you that this is a near-two-tonne car. The steering’s decent rather than remarkable, and you’re best off avoiding its overly-heavy ‘sport’ mode.

It’s a fun car to drive fast, just clearly not something that’s trying to be a sports car. And in the absence of a big petrol engine, this is a lot easier to get on board with.

The BMW 8-Series Works So Much Better With A Diesel Engine

The final big argument for the 840d is price: at £76,270 it’s nearly £25,000 cheaper. Is the M850i worth a third more? I’m not so sure.

It’s a lot easier to recommend, even if at £76,270 the interior still isn’t quite as special as you might like. But how about for me? I’m certain that the 840d is the pick of the two 8ers. Completely convinced. Without a doubt. So of course, if it was my money, I’d buy the V8.


Nishant Dash

The last paragraph is so perfectly written, it’s EXACTLY how my irrational side destroys the rational side of my brain

03/10/2019 - 10:30 |
96 | 0
Nick🔰(2019 Mazda 6™ Crew)

Diesel is dead. It says in the name, DIEsel

03/10/2019 - 11:25 |
16 | 34

Don’t know why u got so many downvotes, this is well funny

03/10/2019 - 13:56 |
10 | 10

I like big fat diesels

03/10/2019 - 11:26 |
30 | 0

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Audi Q7 V12 TDI and the Volkwagen V10 TDI.

03/10/2019 - 13:09 |
18 | 0

That’s one expensive diesel truck.

03/10/2019 - 13:10 |
6 | 18

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Haven’t driven in a modern diesel?
They dont even sound like vans anymore

03/11/2019 - 10:18 |
0 | 0

And then you stop near the cafe and the car sounds like a tractor.
Yeah, no.
Diesel doesn’t work for luxury cars.

03/10/2019 - 13:16 |
26 | 18
Louis Lestner

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Definitely agree

03/10/2019 - 13:56 |
6 | 6

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)


03/10/2019 - 14:10 |
0 | 0
Martin Burns

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

To be fair.. most German cars, petrol or diesel, sound like tractors at idle (which is probably a trade off of sorts to get them to sound SO good at full clip) as far as curb appeal though… showing up in a +$100,000 car that goes “tick tick tick” isn’t exactly worthy of the price tag.

I can still balance a coin on the head of my 18 year old LS430 at idle. Can’t even hear if it’s on from inside the cabin and it rocks a great big dirty 4.3L V8 without sounding like a piece of agricultural equipment…

03/10/2019 - 16:21 |
16 | 0
Louis Lestner
03/10/2019 - 13:57 |
4 | 18

This site isn’t for you.

03/11/2019 - 12:27 |
0 | 0
luke c

This car isn’t meant for the man worried about his mpg, its meant for the man commuting with passion.
With all do respect CT, but, have you lost your damn marbles?

03/10/2019 - 17:05 |
4 | 4

In reply to by luke c

So what is the difference between diesel and gas if you dont care about MPG?

I mean, you could have any of them.

03/10/2019 - 17:52 |
0 | 0
Basith Penna-Hakkim

This is one diesel I would consider getting

03/10/2019 - 19:30 |
2 | 0

I think most of the people hating on diesels never actually tried to drive one for more than five minutes. I drove a 08 e E klass 420cdi the other day and I can swear no gasoline powered car can give you that feeling, unless it’s some quadturbo v12 maybe. It feels like Satan is under the hood and you crush his balls with your right foot, every time you go near the pedal a massive wave of torque hits you in the stomach and you’re like what the actual f+ck was that

03/10/2019 - 20:01 |
4 | 2

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

I’ve owned a diesel for 4 years. It served me well for long journeys with my former band. But petrol engines are way better to drive and they do not stink. Note the NOx emissions too.

03/14/2019 - 08:59 |
0 | 0

in less than 20 years, this car will be given for free i think.

03/11/2019 - 05:37 |
0 | 0



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