Topless topper! – BMW 850i Cabrio

Among all the cars that BMW India has brought to India, both as CKDs and CBUs,
I always had a soft spot for the 6-series Gran Coupe which was just as long as my
525d but had a swoopier shape and looked like Sophia Loren! This was the
quintessential car of its time to fly the flag for its maker in the boulevard cruising
stakes in the country and now the 6-series is passé for it is going to be replaced
by the 8-series in not one but three body styles and all of them truly gorgeous to
behold in the form of the Coupe which came first last year followed by the
delectable cabrio you see here and to be followed by the four-door Gran Coupe
that will hit roads later this year in Europe. I don’t know how many examples of
each would come to India but for sure I do know that the cabrio and the coupe
are perhaps the most handsome cars that have rolled out from Munich in recent
years and they also give my favourite automotive hunk of a machine – the Aston
Martin – a run for its money in the athletically beautiful way they are conjured

Enough of that pie-in-the-sky comparison and on to the task at hand and that is
to suss out whether this Sophia Lorenesque beauty has the brains and the brawn
to build on its earlier earthy appeal and the short answer is an emphatic yes
provided that money is no object! There are two types of customers BMW is
trying to target with the new 8-series, the first of course being the sportier sort
that goes for cars like the Porsche 911, the Audi R8 and to a certain extent the
Mercedes-AMG GT. However the luxury end of the spectrum as exemplified by
the likes of the Bentley Continental as well as the Mercedes-Benz S-class Coupe
are also prime rivals and it seems that BMW has taken on a lot to cater to two
diverse but highly important categories, comfort on one side and sportiness on
the other. And surprisingly it acquits itself on both counts barring of course the
fact that it cannot accommodate four people!

The 850 is a looker no doubt with its long nose packed with a large single-piece
low-set kidney grille, the slimmest headlights (incorporating the firm’s
Laserlight tech), an all new and pronounced front spoiler with gaping large air
intakes on both sides of the air dam to clearly indicate that this is brawn with
intent. This new design language goes against the vein established by BMW for
the X7 SUV as well as the refreshed 750Li I drove along with this very car in
Portugal and it contrasts with the largest kidney grilles ever seen on a Beemer,
big or small, cheap or pricey. The long nose with the raised haunches, the
accentuated and reworked A-pillar to give it a more swoopy effect, the sculpted
character lines on the sides and the high deck don’t disguise the overall heft of
the car (4851mm long, 1902mm wide and 1345mm tall) but even with so much of a busy outlook the car delivers that vital presence and yet has that typical
appeal of an athlete endowed with fine toned muscle. If that’s not all those large
20-inch alloys wrapped with 245/35 R20 radials up front and the even larger
275/30 R20 units at the rear fill up those ample wheel wells and they lend their
own mite to deliver a beautifully intimidating visage.

Normally the first thing one asks an OEM when it lops off the roof of a hard top
coupe or saloon is how much has it been compromised structurally and here the
BMW boffins told me that while there has been a weight increase of 125kg over
the coupe thanks to the strengthened A-pillars, floor pan and additional cross
bracing, the cabrio yet is just as stiff! As much as 97 per cent as the Coupe and
this surely must also go down to the Carbon Core chassis tech that pins the
superstructure making for an incredibly stiff monocoque!

This is pretty important for a car that tips the scales at a shade over two tonnes
but then BMW has given it the means to haul and dance at the same time. The
rorty twin dual-scroll turbocharged 4395cc V8 engine literally sings its way to its
peak 530-horse output between 5500 – 6000rpm along with 750 Nm of torque
in an incredibly wide swathe of 1800 – 4600 rpm. This is breath taking in its
scope and scale but then BMW only offers two versions of the 8-series
convertible, the 850i xDrive, which we drove, and the other being the 840d
xDrive with the sublime straight six turbo-diesel engine. Forget the zero to
100km/h acceleration figure of 3.9 seconds or the 250km/h regulated top speed,
it has to be the most agile car in its class of boulevard express that rears its head
and always points to the straight and the narrow! And that V8 engine has to be
an exemplar in terms of unstressed and unstrained delivery whatever cog she
would have been asked to respond in! Speaking of the new 8-speed gearbox, it
swaps cogs seamlessly when in all auto mode but when you take manual control
via the steering paddle shifters, it is even quicker and sublime in the way it
reacts making best use of the ample torque on offer.

Unlike the newly refreshed 7-series saloons with their air suspension units, here
the entire suspension set-up is pure mechanical with a front all-aluminium
double wishbone layout while at the rear there is a five-link set-up employing a
mix of aluminium and steel components that keeps the body in control and the
wheel movements in fine flow without upsetting the handling or the ride. I have
constantly banged on about this being a boulevard cruiser but that has been said
in context of this being a different automobile than say a 911 or an R8 but boy
can the 850i xDrive run them close! The key to this also manifests itself via the
xDrive all-wheel drive system plus the rear-wheel steering on this model and
surprisingly for such a long, wide and low car she is sharp in turn-in but not
overly daunting. Put her into Sport mode and she comes alive and I couldn’t help
but be impressed by how she made me feel good while taking the mountain
roads in the Portugal Algarve region in a highly controllable yet super quick
manner. For a car without a roof, its agility was eye opening as well and speaking
of roof; the new three-layer fabric roof opens and closes in just about 15 seconds
up to speeds of 50km/h!

The 850i is supremely well balanced and that is at the heart of its enjoyable
repertoire. The ride might be a tad on the stiffer but well damped side but this is
totally understandable given its performance spread. Also the grip from the tyres
and the finely dialled in steering made the car a more accomplished Grand
Tourer than an out and out sports car. In fact if you were to also hazard a
thought, in certain conditions the entire dynamic package makes it a nimble yet
planted performer but do watch out for the

And it is in the open-to-the-elements GT guise that the new 850i xDrive succeeds
admirably. First off it isn’t a four-seater, unless of course you want to squeeze
your 4-5 year olds at the rear and for sure you’d not like to give them the jitters
while hurling the car through the twisties. It is a great two-seater with ample
room for driver and passenger with enough craftsmanship and flair along with
loads of equipment and trim packed into the cabin. There is a wind deflector,
which you can raise during top down motoring to cut down on the buffeting or
disturbing your hairstyle but without an iota of doubt this is a car for continent
crushing motoring in the manner intended and BMW has nailed it.

So what can one say about a car which its creators within BMW had termed it as
“the gentleman racer”, a term that fits it admirably yet has the class and the
refinement to motor from coast to coast and step out feeling like a daisy! Trouble
is this works well in Europe and the US so for India it would necessarily have to
be a poser’s delight to add to another handful of cars he or she might already
have in the garage! But what a car, indeed!

12 thoughts on “Topless topper! – BMW 850i Cabrio

  1. What i don’t understood is in fact how you’re now not
    actually a lot more smartly-preferred than you might be right now.
    You’re so intelligent. You already know thus significantly on the subject of this matter, made me individually imagine it from numerous
    varied angles. Its like women and men aren’t interested until it’s one thing to accomplish with Woman gaga!
    Your individual stuffs great. Always handle it up!

  2. Excellent beat ! I wish to apprentice while you amend your
    site, how can i subscribe for a blog site? The account aided
    me a acceptable deal. I had been a little bit acquainted of
    this your broadcast provided bright clear concept

  3. I am really impressed with your writing skills and also with the layokut on your weblog.
    Is this a paid them or did you modify it yourself? Either way
    keep upp the nice quality writing, itt iss rare too see a nice blog like this one today.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *