2020 BMW 840i Gran Coupe Drivers’ Notes | The high-style 7 Series alternative

The 2020 BMW 840i xDrive Gran Coupe is dangerously close to the bottom rung of the 8 Series lineup. Take all-wheel drive away, and the base 840i Gran Coupe is actually the cheapest 8 Series money can buy, even more so than the actual two-door Coupe. We were grateful for the all-wheel drive fitted to our 840i xDrive test car in Michigan, though, as mother nature decided it was a good week for a snow storm. There are many superb ways to go motoring in the fluffy stuff, but this luxuriously-appointed inline-six sleigh is one we wholeheartedly endorse.

Under the hood of our 8 Series is a buttery-smooth 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six engine. It produces 335 horsepower and 368 pound-feet of torque. BMW claims a 0-60 mph time of 4.6 seconds. Yes, even the big four-door 8 Series can hit 60 mph in well under 5 seconds. This engine is paired to a ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic gearbox. Since it’s the Gran Coupe, this 8 Series is the one to get if you need to carry more people around than yourself and a friend. The trunk is also plenty large for a few pieces of larger luggage on a weekend getaway. It’s no 7 Series from a size perspective, but it does ace the traditional sedan in terms of style and performance.

BMW priced the 8 Series Gran Coupe like the flagship it’s meant to be. With xDrive all-wheel drive, the 840i our tester started at $ 88,795. There was still plenty of room for additional options, as the final price came to $ 100,675. The big ticket item is the M Sport Package, which runs a hefty $ 4,850. There are two driver assistance packages tacked on, one accounting for $ 1,700 and the other is $ 1,100 — the pricier one brings BMW’s Traffic Jam assistant. The Comfort Seating Package costs $ 1,200 and adds front cooled seats and heated seats all around. Our tester’s attractive 20-inch two-tone wheels were $ 1,300 and the piano black interior trim was $ 1,080. Note that the car pictured above is a rear-wheel-drive 840i that arrived at a time with more photo-friendly weather. The test car this time was black, which you can see below.  

Associate Editor Byron Hurd: The 840i is a lot of car, but it doesn’t really feel like it. You’re looking at Challenger Hellcat curb weight from a car with a turbocharged inline-six pushing less than half as much horsepower. The all-wheel drive helps it a ton off the line (the 0-60 time drops by 0.3 second), and makes it a lot more practical in winter. However, there’s a high price to be paid for having this much road presence. 

I was particularly impressed by the Gran Coupe’s steering, which always seemed to suit the drive mode perfectly. After playing around with the individual settings, I settled on “Sport” mode for everything but the suspension, which I left in “Comfort.” This gave me excellent response from every system without having to worry about my kidneys coming out looking like something that would be served in a high-roller casino. 

On occasion, “Sport” steering modes pile on so much artificial heft that minor corrections at speed end up feeling like low-speed parking lot maneuvers, which is just silly. BMW nailed it with the 840i’s calibration. It loads up nicely but still maintains enough boost to remind you that you’re driving a luxury coupe, not a dedicated sport sedan. I’d still prefer to have the 4.4-liter V8 if money is no object, but there’s plenty to love about this 8 Series as it sits. 

Editor-in-Chief Greg Migliore: I really enjoyed the interior. It was deep red in so many places, you might think it would make your eyes hurt. It’s a lot, but not too much. The leather, officially called Fiona Red, gave the 8 Series cabin an old-school opulence. Mix in piano black trim, light pipes on the doors and complementary ambient lighting on the dash, and you’ve got a setting that feels sophisticated and legitimately expensive. Poshness aside, the visibility is better than I expected, and the low-slung sedan offers a solid view of the road. It’s good for energetic driving, though there are some prodigious blind spots and I felt like I was in a submarine when navigating tight neighborhood streets.

So yeah, the inside is nice. I’m warming to the outside, too. The 8 Series Gran Coupe is subtle yet elegant. The Porsche Panamera looks better to my eye, but the Bimmer does have its charm. It drives well, feels fast and has a presence. For once, I was able to escape the office before winter’s early sunset, and a golden hour drive in the 840i was rather cathartic.

Senior Editor, Green, John Beltz Snyder: This Gran Coupe is a fine way to sit back and enjoy those long highway miles. It’s comfortable, quick and roomy, and as Byron noted above, the steering weight always feels mode-appropriate. The technology on offer does a lot to make it even easier on you, from the head-up display to adaptive cruise control to the lane keeping technology.

One feature I very much appreciated when getting stuck in traffic was BMW’s Traffic Jam Assistant. When it notices you’re in stop-and-go highway traffic, and if conditions are met (on a limited-access highway, adaptive cruise control is active, sensors are unobstructed), it’ll let you know the feature is available. Press the “Mode” button on the steering wheel and the car takes over certain functions. It gives you a pair of green lights on the steering wheel to let you know it’s working, and then you can take your hands off the wheel. It’ll steer, bring the car to a complete stop and resume driving once traffic is moving again, so long as you keep your eyes on the road. Yes, the car is watching you watch the road, as any hands-off driving mode should. It only works up to about 40 mph. If traffic gets fast enough, it’ll tell you through audio and visual effects on the wheel and instrument panel to take back control. It works well, and I appreciated it during a particularly heavy week of traffic.

That said, I look forward to getting another chance in the car. The little bit of driving I was able to do unencumbered by traffic left me unexcited. But, I believe this is a nuanced vehicle, and it’s one I feel like I could grow to appreciate more. The M850i coupe blew my socks off. I feel like the 3.0-liter turbo-six could be an interesting engine to get to know over time in this Gran Coupe format.

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