What's the news?
Well, that didn't take long, did it? No sooner have we been driving the new BMW 8 Series in Coupe form, does BMW then go and unveil its even-more-desirable Convertible twin. Here's the full run-down.
With its large kidney grilles, the narrowest headlight clusters of any BMW on sale and a rear end dominated by strong horizontal lines, the 8 Series Convertible is (in the main) very similar to the Coupe, the principal difference being the roof. BMW eschews the once-trendy but now out-of-favour folding hard-top for a fabric affair, which is said to have 'extremely quiet operation, minimised weight and outstanding acoustic comfort.' Perhaps more pertinently, it opens or closes - fully electrically, obviously - in just 15 seconds and it can perform this trick on the move, at speeds of up to 50km/h. That soft-top can be finished in black as standard, with Anthracite Silver an option. BMW also talks of a sophisticated design for the soft-top compartment, which has 'subtle domes and surfacing' for the styling, which apparently takes its cues from the instrument panel and door shoulders.
All the lovely appointments and accoutrements of the 8 Series Coupe carry over into the Convertible and it's still listed as a four-seat open-top, although - as we found out when driving the hard-topped model - space in the rear is, er... cosy. And the need to stash that fabric roof behind the passenger compartment is not going to drastically improve things in the spatial regard. Specific to the Convertible are a pop-up wind deflector in the rear as standard, as well as the option to have neck warmers integrated into the front head restraints. The leather upholstery is coated in BMW's Sun Reflective Technology, meaning well-heeled owners who like to wear shorts won't have the backs of their legs sizzled, if they get into the 8 Series having parked it at length in blazing sunshine with the hood down. A through-loading function with 50:50 seats tries to preserve as much of the BMW's practicality as is possible, while boot capacity is stated as being 350 litres - down 70 litres from the Coupe.
Both engines from the Coupe line-up are ported across for the Convertible, so there's the 3.0-litre, six-cylinder 840d xDrive Convertible and the 4.4-litre, V8 M850i xDrive Convertible available from launch. An 840i will most likely join the line-up soon enough, while we already know an M8 Convertible is in the pipeline. Anyway, the 320hp/680Nm 840d can run 0-100km/h in 5.2 seconds and is limited to 250km/h, while the 530hp/750Nm M850i improves the acceleration sprint to 3.9 seconds; it's limited to the same maximum. Both models flow power through an eight-speed Steptronic automatic transmission and (obviously) xDrive all-wheel traction, with best eco-stats of 5.9 litres/100km (47.9mpg) and 155g/km CO2 for the 840d, and 9.9 litres/100km (28.5mpg) with 225g/km CO2 for the M850i. These numbers are NEDC-correlated, gleaned from WLTP testing.
BMW says it has used a lot of aluminium, magnesium and carbon fibre in the construction of the 8 Series Convertible, although both cars are the wrong side of two tonnes when measured in EU figures: the 840d clocking in at 2,030kg, the M850i 2,090kg. However, BMW promises that a stiff body and chassis structure with soft-top-specific underbody bracing makes the Convertible a good thing to drive. On the kit list (standard or optional) will be items such as Adaptive M suspension, Integral Active Steering, mixed-size tyres on 20-inch alloys, an M Sport differential with electronically controlled locking, the Driving Experience Control mode switch with the Adaptive function, active roll stabilisation (available on the M850i only), various exterior and interior styling packs and, of course, a full array of Adaptive LED and BMW Laserlight with Selective Beam illumination options.
The BMW 8 Series Convertible will have its market launch in March 2019. Expect it to command a decent premium over and above the Coupe models, which start at €115,310 here in Ireland.