NEW BMW M850i COUPE (pt 2)

For a second impression of the M850i, we find a good, keen racing driver whose business involves training BMW drivers.

“The first thing you notice,” Mike Eady comments, seconds after step-off, “is that it’s got such a smooth, well-balanced ride. This car has the latest electronic damping. Comfort mode is very comfortable that’s for sure, but it still turns beautifully into the corners. Quite often BMWs have been criticised for a bumpy ride, as they’ve given us very stiff cars to achieve better handling. This 8-Series manages to ride the bumps beautifully.
“And the engine has that seamless power delivery with masses of torque coming in from 1500rpm for great driveability on the throttle and linear acceleration. It’s so smooth on the throttle; you can really just drive the car on the prodigious torque.
“Pop it into Sport mode to tighten up the torsion bars, and there’s more throttle response and a clear change in demeanour. There’s as much power and performance as you’d ever want on the road and it offers the best of both worlds depending on which mode you drive in.
“The rear-wheel steering system adds extra agility. Applying the power on a sharp corner, there’s zero body roll and zero loss of traction with the new xDrive system cleverly balancing the power between all four wheels. It’s just effortless and very, very quick to turn in. Rear-wheel drive is predominant but it will direct up to 50 per cent to the front wheels.
“Generally manufacturers wouldn’t put a large, luxury car on a race track, they’ll use an Autobahn to show off how it performs, but I’ve seen track footage of the new Eight and it was very impressive. I could drive it all day.”

For many years, Mike has driven BMWs on all New Zealand tracks on a regular basis. But the best BMW track experience he recalls was at Philip Island driving the latest M3. “It’s an old-school grand prix circuit with fast, loaded corners and there are some tight corners where you experience controlled oversteer as well. You could drive the car really quickly and feel very safe while having a lot of fun at the same time.”
The first BMW he ever drove? “My grandfather bought one of the first E30 318i models from Ross Jenson in the early 1980s. I drove it when I was 15. Believe it or not, the car is still in our family, and is currently driven by my nephew.”
As for the characteristics Mike appreciates most when driving a modern BMW, he says he’s quite old-school with his preferences. “As a racing driver, I find the driving position is usually absolutely perfect. You slot in and feel you can drive the car confidently before you’re even moving. I also like the fact that you still get a good feel through the seat of your pants and a BMW steering wheel. Plus, the fact that they are still mostly rear-wheel drive cars. Even when there’s an all-wheel drive system, such as xDrive in the M850i, it still feels like a RWD car. And I love the way BMWs turn into corners and remain balanced though mid-corner exit. You always feel connected.”
Mike’s Tracktime Academy runs BMW Driving Experience courses in which participants drive new BMWs in a track environment and he believes the benefits can be profound. “When people buy the latest BMWs like this high-performance coupe, they’re not always a hundred per cent confident about applying all the technology. On the driver training days, we can push their limits and the vehicles’ limits to learn about stability control, traction control, ABS braking, and it gives them a lot of confidence in the product because they learn very quickly what the cars are capable of. They typically need to change their driving style to drive modern cars better once they understand first-hand how the technologies work.”

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BMW M850i xDrive Coupe

ENGINE 4395cc twin-turbo V8

POWER 390kW (523bhp)

TORQUE 750Nm from 1800rpm

TRANSMISSION 8-speed auto

DRIVETRAIN all-wheel drive

LENGTH 4.84m

WEIGHT 1890kg

WHEELS 20-inch M Sport alloy

TYRES 245/35 (f) 275/30 (r)

0-100km/h 3.7 secs

FUEL CLAIM 10.4L/100km

PRICE from $259,400

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