2020 BMW 840i Coupe review: When base means best


Large and in charge.

Daniel Golson/Roadshow

Let’s get this out of the way first: Obviously a two-door luxury coupe that has a base price of $88,895 (including $995 for destination) isn’t actually “cheap.” But in the grand scheme of BMW 8 Series models, this rear-wheel-drive 840i is a bargain at $94,245, and I also believe it’s the best version of the 8.


  • Fantastic turbo-six engine
  • Sleek looks
  • Lots of standard features

Don’t Like

  • Most driver-assistance tech is optional
  • Tight back seat
  • The four-door Gran Coupe is cheaper

I can’t remember the last car I drove that turned as many heads as this Barcelona Blue 840i Coupe. People gave me the thumbs-up on the highway, took photos when I passed them on the street and came up to me and asked questions at the gas station and car wash. Everyone wanted to know how much it costs. Despite all the online memes saying the 8 Series looks like a Mustang or an Accord, the general public can tell it’s something a lot more special. Oh, and guys in clapped-out muscle cars tried to race me, because Detroit.

My tester wears the $4,850 M Sport Package, which adds more aggressive bumper designs, different side skirts, two-tone 19-inch wheels, larger brakes with blue calipers, dark window trim and a thicker steering wheel. With the M Sport bits fitted, this 840i definitely looks sportier than a standard version, but it’s not nearly as in-your-face as the fire-breathing M8. I do wish the window trim at least matched the chrome on the grille, however.

There’s nothing “base” about the way the 840i Coupe looks.

Daniel Golson/Roadshow

The 840i’s single-turbo, 3.0-liter I6 is rated at 335 horsepower and 368 pound-feet of torque, which is a far cry from the M850i’s twin-turbo V8 with 523 hp and 553 lb-ft. Yet I never really found myself yearning for the V8 — except when it comes to the exhaust note, which is a bit lacking by comparison. BMW says the 840i can accelerate to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds (or 4.4 seconds when equipped with all-wheel drive, a $2,900 option), but it feels quicker than that. There’s a ton of low-end torque, and the ZF-sourced, eight-speed automatic transmission is fantastic: quick-shifting and smooth. Yes, the M850i will hit 60 in 3.5 seconds, but even though the 840i isn’t as quick, that doesn’t mean it isn’t as enjoyable. Also, over 500 miles of driving I averaged 24 miles per gallon — which includes a few 30-plus-mpg highway runs — and that definitely wouldn’t happen with the V8.

The 840i is absolutely on the grand touring end of the high-end coupe spectrum, but it’s more fun to throw around than you may expect. The thick-rimmed wheel doesn’t offer a ton of feedback but the steering is accurate and nicely weighted, and the 8 Series is more nimble than its size suggests. Turn-in is sharp and the big coupe rotates well, and although it’s certainly more at home on long, fast sweepers, the 840i remains fun even when the going gets really twisty and technical. Compared to the M850i, which has one more turbo, two more cylinders and two more driven wheels, the 840i feels noticeably lighter, especially at the front end.

Modern BMW interiors can feel bleak and austere in darker colors, so the Ivory White leather of this test car is welcome. Nearly every surface is covered in leather, and the whole cabin has a high-quality feel. In terms of design, the 840i Coupe’s cabin is pretty similar to all of BMW’s other recent products, and that’s no bad thing. There are a lot of physical buttons for things like climate control and driving modes, a volume knob and BMW’s latest iDrive system, which I think is the best in the biz. It pairs a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster with a 10.25-inch central touchscreen that can also be controlled by a knob on the center console. Like most other cars in this class, the rear seat is pretty laughable, but at 5 feet, 9 inches tall, I’m still able to squeeze back there and sit comfortably-ish.

The only other big option this 840i test car has is the $500 Driving Assistance Package 2, which is actually a requisite part of the M Sport setup. It adds blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning, a phenomenal 360-degree camera system and parking sensors. Every 8 Series also comes standard with a litany of features such as a head-up display, navigation, wireless charging (and wireless Apple CarPlay capability), adaptive LED headlights and heating for the seats, steering wheel and armrests. That last item is life-changing, believe me.

Annoyingly absent from this $90,000-plus coupe, though, is adaptive cruise control. To get that, you need to pony up an additional $1,700 for the Driving Assistance Professional Package, which I would gladly do if it were my money. The adaptive cruise tech has the same excellent traffic jam assist with stop-and-go functionality that I’ve used in our long-term 330i, which can be a life-saver on long drives. That pack also adds lane-keeping assist with lane-centering tech and steering assist, additional collision-avoidance features and the ability for the car to pull itself over and come to a stop in an emergency.

Order the glass controls if you’re feeling particularly opulent.

Daniel Golson/Roadshow

That would bring my ideal 8 series in at $95,945, which isn’t too far from the 840i’s base price of $88,895. The M850i Coupe starts at $112,895, and it doesn’t feel like it’s worth over $20,000 more than this 840i, especially because it also doesn’t come with those driver-assistance features as standard. And the 840i would be just as good without the admittedly expensive M Sport pack, which would keep it below the starting price of competitors like the Lexus LC 500 and Porsche 911.

OK, hang on, I’m also pretty vain, so on my ideal 840i I’d get the 20-inch wheels for $1,300, which I think look better and don’t ruin the 8’s fantastic ride quality. I’d also spring for the fabulous Ivory White and Night Blue two-tone interior (with matching Alcantara headliner) for $2,650. That puts me at $99,895 including destination — still a good deal less than the M850i. If I was feeling really fancy, I’d add the $650 glass controls. And maybe the $3,400 Bowers & Wilkins surround-sound system. But that’s it. I promise.

What I really want is the Gran Coupe version of the 840i. The four-door Gran Coupe — which may or may not actually be a coupe depending on which Roadshow staffer you ask — looks even better than the two-door and offers a lot more space for rear passengers. Despite the added length and weight, the Gran Coupe is just as good to drive, and it’s also $3,000 cheaper than the “regular” coupe. The two-door 8 Series is wonderful, but the Gran Coupe is the best of both worlds.


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