REVIEW | BMW M8 Competition Convertible is a cruiser, bruiser, and elegant tourer

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• The M8 Competition Convertible is the most expensive BMW in South Africa.

• The car is powered by a twin-turbo V8 engine that produces 460kW/750Nm.

• The M8 can clear 0-100km/h in little more than 3.0 seconds.

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Let's be frank about the BMW M8: it's a brute of a sports car that will send countless shivers down your spine. It ranks up there among the most powerful cars BMW has ever produced, yet it doubles between being a tour de force and a Sunday afternoon cruiser. That's about as to-the-point as we can get because this car is that damn good.

But in all fairness, stopping at the first paragraph would not be a just representation of the M8 Competition Convertible (CC) and its prowess. And it would not be a just relaying of what this car actually is.

Don't expect not to be seen

The BMW M8 (CC) is anything but subtle. It demands attention and will bring almost any traffic situation to a standstill. From the elongated bonnet to the muscular rear with its quad exhausts, the car attracts attention by doing virtually nothing. Darting to your nearest shopping centre is rarely done under the radar, seeing that almost everyone must indulge their sense of sight.

One pedestrian uttered "What the f***!?" when the V8 engine purred alongside him, while a woman, waiting in a car for her partner, reshaped her lips to say "Wow" with her eyes firmly fixed on the M8's two large kidney grilles. These are just some of the examples we experienced while driving the car - not to mention motorists hooting and waving in sheer ecstasy.

Whether with the roof up or down - the soft-top cloth roof can be opened and closed in 15 seconds - the car garners attention.

BMW M8 Competition Convertible
2021 BMW M8 Competition Convertible

Does the go match the show?

Asking if the M8 is fast is like asking a pastor to speak in tongues. But unlike the spiritual leader speaking 'jibberish', everyone understands the sound of a V8 engine. The M8 family is powered by BMW's familiar 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 petrol engine. And in Competition guise, as we have here, power is rated at 460kW and 750Nm of torque. It's a lot of power, which is why BMW fitted its most potent M car with xDrive: its in-house all-wheel drive system. The addition of xDrive helps keep all that power in check, but drivers with a daring nature can engage M2 on the steering wheel for an unbridled, unrestricted driving experience.

With this setting, the engine only sends its power to the rear wheels, necessitating the driver to focus solely on the job ahead. Bar exercising a few launch controls, we did not engage M2 and only performed driving duties with M1 engaged. M1 can be specified to the driver's needs without disengaging the electronic nannies.

WATCH: Sophistication meets raw power in the SA-bound BMW M8 Competition

Driving the M8 in town, one is confronted with the car's sheer size. Turning low speeds, there is a bit of weight over the front axle. It isn't cumbersome, but it can catch one off guard. This also has to the effect that the car is prone to understeer when pushing too hard through a series of bends. At 2035kg, the M8 CC is not light. And even with all the witchery and electronics to enhance the driving experience, science will not denounce this undeniable trait of a car this size.

Thankfully, our tenure with the car saw very little action on mountain passes, which made it an ideal fit for our needs.

BMW M8 Competition Convertible
2021 BMW M8 Competition Convertible

Cabin and tech

If you're not opting for the four-door M8 Competition Gran Coupé, the Coupé and Convertible body types will not be too kind on rear passengers - which is a given. Front passengers, however, are treated to absolute comfort, with ample leg- and headroom with the roof up or down. The heated seats provide the necessary comfort on cold mornings, while the air vents in the headrests will blow warm air onto your neck.

When the rear seats are in use, taller drivers could find their driving positions compromised as you consider the passenger directly behind you. From a safety perspective, this can impact your body's reaction to an incident on the road; hence we'd recommend you selecting your passengers with a strict survey.

Other notable features on the M8 CC include leather upholstery options that are unique to it, head-up display, driving and parking aids, and BMW's Live Cockpit Professional.

Which BMW, in your opinion, is the best ever made? Email us with your thoughts or use the comment section below.

BMW M8 Competition Convertible
2021 BMW M8 Competition Convertible

In summary

The BMW M8 Competition Convertible is one of those cars that will impress endlessly. Despite its shortcomings, it will still put a smile on your face and have you clamber in and out knowing that there's a sense of occasion with every drive. At R3.6 million, it is well out of reach for most people, but it will rarely deter onlookers from capturing mental photographs.

Knowing that the M8 is more of a grand tourer than an outright sports car, we understood why BMW opted for its eight-speed M Steptronic transmission rather than the more hardcore seven-speed DC-T gearbox. The car's demeanour is different, and in-drive gear changes are not as brutal, yet the M8 Competition Convertible still delivers.

The M8 Competition Convertible is a suitable fit as the headliner for BMW's product line-up, and it fulfils its task with serious aplomb.

BMW M8 Competition Convertible
2021 BMW M8 Competition Convertible
Quick stats: 2021 BMW M8 Competition Convertible

Price: R3 630 862

Engine: 4.4-litre, twin-turbo V8 petrol

Power: 460kW @6000rpm

Torque: 750Nm @ 1800-5600rpm

0-100km/h: 3.3 seconds

Top speed: 250km/h (electronically limited)

Gears: Eight-speed automatic

Drive: All-wheel drive

Front tyres: 275/35 R20

Rear tyres: 285/35 R20

Weight: 2035kg

Seats: Four

Maintenance Plan: Five-years / 100 000km

Warranty: Two-years / Unlimited km

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