Of late I detect a rather encouraging theme – BMW appears to be rediscovering its identity and making cars that are more distinct and sporting than their direct predecessors. I’ve seen it in the new X5 and X4 and particularly the 3-series. But perhaps none seeks to remind you of what BMWs used to be like more than this new 8-series.
I quite like the looks, but it still presents as a more modern 6-series, an effective if unlovable touring GT. Likewise the cabin: it’s all soft leather and efficient information presentation, but not much to stir the soul.
Until you fire it up. Even this 3-litre diesel growls at you, undeniably purposeful, with lavish mid-range torque. On the road the ride is firm, even harsh, though fluently damped, but the proof of the new approach is in the corners. With four-wheel steering and coil suspension, the 840d changes direction far more rapidly and accurately than its shape would suggest. On open roads it’s genuinely entertaining. Even so, it’s heavy. Cut 250kg and you’d have a modern Porsche 928, which is what I’d hoped BMW might offer us.
Then again, perhaps it’s just where BMW wants it: neither Mercedes CLS nor Audi A7 rivals it dynamically and an M8 is still to come, so I see why the 840d is set up this way. Even as it is, on BMW’s journey back to its driver-centric past it represents a positive step.
Engine 3.0 litres, 6 cylinders, turbo
Power [email protected]
Power to weight 164bhp per tonne
Transmission Eight-speed auto, four-wheel drive
Top speed 155mph
Verdict Healthy step for sporting fans
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