BMW’s 8 Series convertible packs a twin-turbo V8, display screens galore

BMW’s flagship 8 Series brings back a storied name from the 1990s. But that original 8 Series model was only available as a coupe. That makes the 2019 BMW 8 Series convertible the first of its kind. The drop top debuts at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show, and goes on sale in the United States in March 2019.

Just like the new 8 Series coupe, the 2019 8 Series convertible will launch in M850i xDrive form. That means it gets a 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8, eight-speed automatic transmission, and all-wheel drive (that’s what “xDrive” means in BMW-speak). The V8 produces 523 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque — the same as the M850i xDrive coupe. BMW said the convertible will do 0 t0 60 mph in 3.8 seconds, which is 0.2 seconds slower than the coupe. Both versions have a top speed of 155 mph.

The M850i xDrive won’t be the last word in performance, though. We know BMW is planning a more potent M8 version of the 8 Series coupe, so it’s likely that the convertible model will eventually get the same treatment.

BMW gracefully adapted the 8 Series’ styling to accommodate the lack of a roof, but the overall effect isn’t too dramatic. A luxury convertible should make a major styling statement, but because this convertible has been preceded by the 8 Series coupe, concept and racing versions of said coupe, and various camouflaged prototypes, the car already feels a bit familiar. The 8 Series has a power soft top that can be raised or lowered in 15 seconds at speeds up to 30 mph. The seats can also be equipped with neck warmers to make top-down driving more comfortable in cooler weather.

The convertible features the same long list of tech features as the 8 Series coupe, including adaptive LED headlights with BMW’s LaserLight system, adaptive suspension, and Integral Active Steering, which is meant to make the 8 Series more maneuverable at parking-lot speeds. The convertible can also use BMW’s Open Mobility Cloud to connect to Apple and Android smartphones and smartwatches, or Google Home and Amazon Alexa smart-home devices.

The lavish iDrive infotainment system includes a 10.25-inch central screen and a 12.3-inch screen that takes the place of a traditional instrument cluster. The standard head-up display includes a night-vision feature — just like on an early 2000s Cadillac DTS.

Finally, the 8 Series convertible is available with an array of driver aids. The adaptive cruise control system works at speeds up to 130 mph, and can brake the car to a full stop and pull away after being stationary for up to 30 seconds, BMW said. A park-assist feature can automatically steer the 8 Series into parking spaces, according to BMW. Other notable features include autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning, and lane keep assist.

The 2019 BMW 8 Series convertible made its public debut at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show, but sales won’t start until winter begins to abate in March 2019. Pricing will start at $122,395 (including a mandatory $995 destination charge), or $9,500 more than the 8 Series coupe.

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