We get it. The BMW 8 Series Gran Coupe has four doors. It’s what most people would call a sedan even though BMW says it’s a coupe. And yes, it’s also the four-door version of a two-door car that’s supposedly more prestigious than the 7 Series. Except it’s also basically a replacement for the BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe.
If you really want to get nit-picky, yeah, the 8 Series Gran Coupe is a confusing car. On the other hand, who cares? It’s a more-luxurious, sporty sedan. Let’s just judge the 8 Series Gran Coupe based on how it does that job. And to add even more credibility here, MotorTrend recently named it a finalist in the 2021 Car of the Year competition.
What the 8 Series Gran Coupe did right
If you can get past the somewhat-controversial naming scheme, there really is a lot to like about the four-door 8 Series. We’re not just talking about the M-tuned version, either. Based on these reviewers’ comments, it sounds like the 8 Series really is a legitimate luxury sport sedan.
MotorTrend’s judges specifically praised the Gran Coupe’s design, its excellent engine options, the practicality that comes with a four-door design. We’re not entirely sold on the styling of the two-door version, so it’s great to see BMW more or less figure out the design language on the Gran Coupe. But we also suspect there are plenty of BMW fans out there who think the four-door 8 Series is one of the most beautiful cars they’ve ever seen.
“The proportions are just stellar. Just how you drew up cars on your Pee-Chee folders in high school when you dreamed of being a designer,” wrote one reviewer (who may or may not have just dated themselves with that comment). The good news for BMW fans is that the styling isn’t the only thing the judges appreciated.
MotorTrend also pointed out that the “rear of the cabin is relatively spacious, with seats just as comfy as the fronts.” So you don’t have to worry about rear passengers being impossibly cramped. And even though the test car had the base inline-six, the reviewers liked that, as well. “In terms of engineering excellence, the 840i excels,” said one judge. “Few six-cylinders are as good as what the Bavarian motor company produces. This has been true historically, and it continues to be true in the present day.”
What the 8 Series Gran Coupe did wrong
MotorTrend’s reviewers focused most of their criticisms on how costly the car is, the limited rear headroom, and the subpar stop/start system. When compared to the one offered by Mercedes, the BMW’s start/stop system just isn’t smooth or quiet enough. That’s the kind of thing that sounds small but can quickly get super annoying.
Rear headroom also proved to be an issue for some of MotorTrend’s taller judges. They must have had room for their legs but not their knees. Still, the biggest issue seems to be the 8 Series Gran Coupe’s price. Competitors offer sedans with similar coupe-like proportions for less money (even if those competitors don’t have a crystal shift knob).
For shoppers who like the Gran Coupe enough to buy it, those nit-picky practical details probably don’t matter. As one judge put it, “It delivers the feeling of accomplishment every time you get in it. Everything is an extra layer of supple elegance and enjoyment.”