With the great big orange ball in the sky finally appearing (it’s been a long Winter), thanks to BMW New Zealand I ‘had me a blast’ in the 2020 M850i Convertible. Sun shining overhead, top down, V8 roaring and miles of NZ countryside to play with, seriously, does it get any better than this?
It seems that for most of this year I (like most of the world) have spent most of my time staring at the four walls of my home. However, with restrictions easing a bit, just in time for the clocks to Spring forward, BMW threw me the keys to their big beasty convertible the M850i, and I drove it everywhere.
I’m sure that this is where you expect to hear about visits to the beach or vast coastline drives (and I did squeeze some of that in) but with all that’s been going on, I switched off the Beemer’s top notch nav system and simply drove for hours and hours.
At a shade under 5m long, this is no compact convertible, but proportionally it works, in fact, think Z4 but magnified and you get the dimensions. It’s pretty, yet muscular, and oh so sporty with a long bonnet and low centre of gravity – it’s a bullet in both looks and speed.
The iconic kidney grilles are one piece and stretch out wide towards the laser LED lights (very different to the polarising ones that the brand is moving towards). My model came in Barcelona blue which contrasted beautifully with the carbon fibre accents that were strategically placed around the exterior (and inside too). It’s profile is sleek and the body sits well on the 20-inch M-sport alloys it came with. The rear comes with plenty of drama, narrow LED tail lights, ample curves and quad tailpipes that have been merged together to form two aesthetically pleasing tips.
My model’s interior was lavished in leather, however, rather than being dull BMW black, the NZ team opted for ‘Tartufo’ (truffle) brown that looked good enough to eat. The furniture itself is comfortable (well the front is) and there’s heating all round including seat, hands (heated wheel) and a ‘neck scarf’ that blows warm air towards the back of your neck, for those crisp Winter days when you still want to drive with the top down. The fabric roof is fully lined and very quiet/insulating when up plus should it rain, it only takes 15 seconds to drop, you can even do it on the move upto 50km/h.
Of course, the M850i comes loaded with BMW latest tech and there’s a digital screen for both infotainment and instrumentation, they are a little bit tough to read when under the midday sun but are clean and clear on the whole, what’s more, much of it is touchpad, dial and voice controlled and it comes with the Hey BMW AI system too.
Back to the drive. Top up or especially top down, the sound of the BMW’s 4.4L V8 is a riot. It lovingly rattles around like a bunch of tools in a tool box and blissfully screams to high heaven when stamped on. 390kW and 750Nm tells some of the story, as does the 0-100km/h time of 3.7 seconds but it’s only when you experience it first hand that it all makes sense.
From switch on (in Sports +) to hard acceleration, this outwardly sophisticated vehicle snarls like a wild animal and yet with its xDrive all-wheel-drive system, Integral Active Steering and all encompassing BMW driving spirit, it tackles the twistiest of roads with ease. It’s quick, loud and exciting with a big dollop of fun thrown in for good measure.
When it comes to practicality, the M850i convertible doesn’t tick many boxes, top down boot space is limited and even though it’s a 2+2 it’s more of a two-seater coupe than for a family of four, but isn’t that the point. This is a fun and freedom machine, built to have the wind rush through what’s left of your hair and feel unrestricted by the normalities of general driving. But what’s more, it’s angry and obnoxious when required, with an engine that will set off the security alarms of lesser vehicles in underground car parks.
2020 is nearly over and things are heating up, I’m loving summer and it has to be said ‘I had me a blast’ in the BMW New Zealand M850i Convertible.