First Drive: BMW M850i Gran Coupe

A 600-horsepower twin-turbo V8 engine that levels the power plants found in other comfort-centric sedans.
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BMW M850i Gran Coupe (3)

They’re the sort of questions anyone who drives and writes about a lot of cars gets asked by people politely feigning interest in what I do for a living: “Of all the cars you drive, what are your favorites? What would you buy if money was no object?”

The answers to those inquiries merge together, and I avoid naming supercars in my list because it’s the sad act of an utterly narcissistic buffoon to name as his favorite cars creations the listening individual will never see on the road, let alone drive. Put simply: I still try to add recognizable makes and awe-inspiring models.

BMW M850i Gran Coupe (4)

In each case, I achieved some sort of strange rapport with the mix of steel, aluminum and rubber. Something clicked between my driving style and the vehicle’s design and engineering, There’s no rhyme or reason for it beyond that, with the exception that every car on the list was created to provide some sensual thrill found in the driving experience.

There’s the deceptive power and undeniable poise of the Range Rover Sport SVR. Throw in the dancing ability of the Mazda MX-5 with a manual transmission. I’d surprise the jury with the surly lines of the Chrysler 300 V8. Sneak in the completely silly Fiat 500 Abarth. They make up a strange family — my sort of four-wheeled United Nations Insecurity Council with ambassadors from the USA, Japan, Italy and the UK.

BMW M850i Gran Coupe (2)

Still, there’s a country missing. The meticulous Bavarians push their way to the table with the 2020 BMW M850i Gran Coupe. Looking to achieve that rare German automotive blend of luxurious elegance and dominating power, the M850i carries all of the modern accoutrements of 21st century driving with powerful, sport-tuned performance.

Wearing that M badging meaning BMW’s special engineering departments amped up the speed and handling numbers on the car, this Gran Coupe packs a 600 horsepower, twin-turbo, 4.4-liter V8 engine that levels the power plants found in most big, comfort-centric sedans. It’s a four-door, grand touring car that will do 0-60 mph in 3.5 seconds. The car has to be limited to 160 mph, and it needs 15.6 inch brakes front and back to bring it all to a stop.

It’s not the sexiest visual design in the automotive world, but it looks better than a lot of understated, even boxy BMWs on the market. That company never believed in outward flash. With the exception of its signature “sunglasses” grille and that unmistakable Hofmeister Kink – that “hockey stick,” angled groove used as a signature identifying mark on the side panels – BMWs offer only their proud badge by way of visual boasting. In the case of the BMW M850i Gran Coupe, the sloping rear lines appeal to the eye — admittedly echoing a Maserati in shape.

The driving experience brings every aspect of that signature BMW refinement. Balanced. Grounded, Reassuring. Inviting. The acceleration is effortless, and the noise intimidating. It’s a machine that sounds better than most cars, looks better than many cars and outperforms the vast majority of engines on the road.

Of course, money just might prove an issue with a price north of $122,000. However, my favorite family doesn’t check MSRPs at the door. The BMW M850i Gran Coupe is a road-going gift and a proud inclusion to my standard answer to …”Of all the cars you drive…”