IN BMW LAND WHEN THE LETTER M APPEARS IN THE MODEL DESIGNATION SOME MIGHT ARGUE THAT IT STANDS FOR MAGIC. Well, not quite, but not far off. M stands for the BMW high performance versions of various models. Clearly these models have powerful engines, a sporty suspension, and other enhancements. And the M magic is spread across the line up from the smaller models (M2), to medium size (M4 and M5) and the highest end sedans (the M8s). And with the clear sales shifts to SUVs, there are X3 M, X4 M, X5 M and the X6 M SUV versions.
Recently BMW reintroduced, after a couple decades, the M850 coupe and convertible.
But our test model is the largest M850, called the Grand Coupe. The Grand reference before the Coupe designation denotes that it is, in fact, a four-door sedan that looks like a coupe with a roofline that slopes steeply into the trunk area, and generally has a lower overall profile. Of course, the traditional BMW twin grille with large headlights is up front, but with the addition of a very low front area with multiple openings. On the sides are large vent-like holes behind the front wheels. The rear view shows super large taillights with some wavy bumper lines above the huge dual exhaust ports. Overall, the BMW is a good-looking sedan with clearly a performance orientation with styling and with its large 20-inch alloy wheels.
A fairly roomy luxury interior with some very interesting features is found inside. Leather with metal inserts, are spread all around in the interior. As with many vehicles these days, two long and wide video screens are in the dash area. Besides the usual controls for various functions, BMW has a unique one … simply wave your hand near the face of the center screen, and you can change, for example, the radio volume. When in reverse gear, the center screen shows a rear view and 360-degrees around the car. The screen in the dashpod displays a mini map of the area you are driving with the street name you are on. More entertaining and helpful is the heads-up display on the inside of the windshield, which shows your cur- rent speed and speed limit on the road you are on. But with a push of buttons on the steering wheel, other data and info can be easily viewed. For example, the radio choices can be brought up, and then can be easily moved around without taking your eyes off the road. Even performance information can be brought up on this system.
And there is a fair amount of room for two in the rear seats. Between the two passengers is a large panel to control the rear climate and other information. With a push of a button, a big sunshade can be deployed in the back window. An armrest with two pop-out cupholders and separate covered storage is provided. Opening the powered trunk lid reveals a relatively large storage area, and, of course, the 40/20/40 split back seats can be dropped for additional carrying capacity.
Under the hood is a 4.4-liter turbo-charged V-8 producing 523 horsepower with the power going to all four wheels through the 8-speed automatic trans- mission. Acceleration, to say the least, is quick with a 0-60 time of 3.7 seconds. But for everyday real-world traveling, the engine operates in relative silence, and likewise the transmission shifts without much detection. For those who prefer to shift gears manually, there are paddles behind the steering wheel to do just that. Also, various driving modes are available which affects shifting and other performance features. The settings are sport, comfort, eco and pro. On the ride front, there is a sporty but comfortable feel, and steering is direct and connected.
With this Grand Coupe performance edition, a number of worlds are joined together nicely. Yes, it gives you room for four passengers, but more importantly, it has good looks with plenty of performance.
BMW M850I XDRIVE GRAND COUPE
MODEL: FOUR-DOOR SEDAN, FOUR PASSENGERS
POWERTRAIN: 4.4-LITER TURBOCHARGED V-8, 523 HORSEPOWER, ALL-WHEEL DRIVE, 8-SPEED AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION PERFORMANCE: 0-60 3.7 SECONDS
FUEL MILEAGE AVERAGE: 20 MPG PRICE: $108,900 AS TESTED $116,945