BMW creates an eminently pleasant driving cocoon that takes you right back to the days of Sinatra, Tareyton, and the grand-touring coupe.
Big grand-touring coupes are anachronisms, conceived for a time when sophisticated men wore Sansabelt slacks and carefully coordinated their sport coats and turtlenecks. When sideburns mattered, and every adult smoked three packs of Tareytons and drank a six-pack of Michelob every day. A time when Sinatra set the standard. But here-at the tail end of the 21st century's tattooed, crossover-obsessed, virtue-signaling second eco-decade-comes the 2019 BMW M850i xDrive coupe. It's a twin-turbocharged, all-wheel-drive 523-hp fondue pot.
BMW certainly didn't bring back the old 8 with this new one. That previous 8-series, the E31 produced between 1990 and 1999, was brilliantly distinctive with its low cowl, shark nose, tall greenhouse, and pop-up headlights. Even decades later, it remains one of BMW's cleanest, most glamorously imperious designs, the mere sight of which bursts blood vessels. Current pedestrian-protection regulations and the reality of packaging various electronic doohickeys and whatnots mean reproducing that stiletto profile today is impossible. But while this new G15 series has plenty of busy, provocative styling cues, they don't quite pull together as harmoniously. Hey, the first 8-series is a tough act to follow. And it didn't need to spawn convertible and four-door Gran Coupe spinoffs, the trio of which will replace the 6-series in BMW's lineup. (The number 6 will live on aboard the big-box Gran Turismo near-crossover.)