Review: 2023 BMW M850i xDrive Cabriolet



Words: Calvin Chan

Photography: Calvin Chan

Published: November 25, 2022

 



A luxurious boulevard cruiser with a sweet V8 engine and masculine GT proportions, the BMW M850i xDrive Cabriolet needs no introduction. The 8 Series platform has been a success for the blue roundel family, the branch also spawning a coupe and four-door sedan, but we have always preferred the convertible for its expensive looks and the fact that every time we hopped behind the wheel, it gave us an overwhelming sense of occasion. Draped in a subtle but characterful shade of Petrol Mica paint, our test vehicle commanded attention wherever it went, and wouldn’t look out of place parked next to rivals costing double like the Porsche 911 Turbo S Cabriolet or even a Bentley Continental GT.

 

 

The M850i hasn’t changed much since we last drove it in 2019. There’s a larger 12.3-inch central touchscreen (up from 10.25-inches), which adds a bit more dimension and depth to the interior. The screen looks great, is high definition, and remains neatly integrated into the dash instead of sticking out like a sore thumb. BMW has always nailed down this aesthetic, along with retaining the shortcut buttons that can be programmed to any function - it seems they are phasing this out though as it’s missing in the new i4 and iX models. The tried and true rotary dial is carried over, and remains our preferred way of interacting with the system.

 

 

The rest of the interior is top-notch. While it lacks the pizzazz and polish of a Mercedes S-Class, it looks the part of a six-figure German convertible. Top-shelf materials coat the steering wheel and switchgear, and supple leather graces nearly every reachable surface. The seats are supportive and the ergonomics are spot on, though the instrument cluster remains fully digital, and the nonlinear readouts and gauges still bother us to this day.

 

 

The soft-top roof only takes 15 seconds to be raised or lowered, and can be done at speeds up to 50 km/h. The fabric layer does a great job insulating the cabin from unwanted exterior noises as well, and while it’s not as quiet as the coupe, you can still have whisper quiet conversations at highway speeds. Furthermore, with all-wheel drive, three-stage neck warmers, and manually attached air deflectors, the M850i eagerly extends your convertible season into late autumn.

 

 

The ride in the M850i is not as supple as a Mercedes E 450 Convertible nor does it neutralize small suspension movements as well - we noticed some rattles and chassis trembles when negotiating bumps and traversing over train track crossings, but it gains in fluency the faster you go. It’s a noticeable drop in rigidity from the M850i Coupe but we wouldn’t call it dealbreaking. We can’t expect it to operate like the McLaren 720S and its carbon fibre tub. Still, the M850i houses a thick layer of daily usability and everyday comfort with two rear seats and a sizable boot.

 

 

The M850i may skew towards being a comfortable cruiser but it’s not afraid to show its athletic side when you slip it into Sport mode and give it a push.The 4.4-litre twin-turbocharged V8 wakes up and conjures a mighty 523 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque to send you from 0-100 km/h in a speedy 4.0 seconds. It’s a highly caffeinated, triple shot espresso of an engine with heaps of low and mid-range muscle, so you can make outrageous progress without ever breaching 5000 rpm. So when it comes to acceleration, drivers will have absolutely nothing to worry about, especially with a slick and smooth 8-speed ZF automatic managing the gears for them. The exhaust sounds wonderful too, burbling with barks and howls on throttle overrun and during high RPM shifts.

 

 

The M850i Cabriolet rides with an underlying firmness but one that positively translates to a dynamic and engaging drive when the road begins to snake. The body remains taut and tightly strung when thrown around corners, is calm but loses little confidence during recreational blasts, and it genuinely feels like it was tuned for long sweeping canyon roads rather than straight bouts on the Autobahn.

 

 

And then we get to the steering, the gateway to driver involvement. It’s the most critical point of contact between car and driver and we just can’t get into the groove with the M850i’s. That boils down to the new 4-wheel steering system which we normally find on large sedans or SUVs. It feels odd in this sports convertible, and while it effectively shortens the wheelbase and allows for extra manuverability at low speeds, it feels unnatural here and detracts from us feeling engaged with the machine. The way it rotates so quickly feels artificial, and rather than the steering being an extension of the arm, it feels like we’re operating it via a Playstation controller. It’s a standard feature as well so you can’t opt for a unit without it equipped, nor can you turn it off. Shame, and while the outgoing M850i wasn’t exactly rich in road detail either, it was immensely satisfying to turn in, from the resistance, weighting, and connection to the front wheels and road surface.

 


The BMW M850i Cabriolet has aged well over the years, becoming one of our favourite methods of casual cruising during golden hour. It takes the stress out of driving and replaces that emotional void with a V8 war drum and striking road presence. The overly reactive four wheel steering is a minor issue, but the M850i aces every other department so well that we still wouldn’t hesitate recommending one.

 


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Specifications:

Model: 2023 BMW M850i xDrive Cabriolet

Paint Type: Petrol Mica
Base Price: $128,900

Price as Tested: $146,650
Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,856 / 1,902 / 1,345

Curb weight (kg): 2,148
Engine: 4.4-litre twin-turbocharged V8
Horsepower: 523 hp @ 5,500 - 6,000 rpm
Torque: 553 lb-ft @ 1,800 - 4,600 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 16.2

Tires: 245/35R20 front; 275/30R20 rear

 



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