Why Wait for for the M8? The M850i xDrive Convertible Is Already Here

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M850i Convertible has the right combination of power, sound, and luxury that makes waiting for the M8 much easier.

This is a big year for fans of BMW’s modern classics from the 1990s. Not only is the 8 Series back for 2019, it’s also available as a factory-built convertible for the first time. The good news doesn’t stop there. BMW recently released the official specs for the 2020 M8 coupe and convertible models, which go into production this July. In standard form, they’ll offer 600 horsepower and 553 lb-ft of torque, as well as an array of other M performance features; in Competition tune, they’ll pump out the same amount of torque and 617 horsepower.

But what if you just have to have a new 8 Series drop top and can’t wait for the full-on M version? According to CarBuzz‘s Jared Rosenholtz, you don’t have to. The 2019 M850i xDrive Convertible is that good.

5series.net 2019 BMW M850i xDrive Convertible Review

Rosenholtz found that out for himself at “Topless in Miami,” a media event in Miami Beach, Florida where he was able to sample a variety of open-top and panoramic-roof cars. The M850i may not have the same sky-high output as the M8, but its numbers are nothing to scoff at. Its twin-turbo 4.4-liter V8 generates 523 horsepower and 553 lb-ft of torque, then routes that through an eight-speed automatic and all four wheels (hence the xDrive in its long proper name).

5series.net 2019 BMW M850i xDrive Convertible Review

There are other perks to the M850i’s N63 V8. One of them is obvious, especially in a roofless car: its roar, which Rosenholtz describes as “not as obnoxious as [what you’d hear from] an AMG car.” The other benefit is “monstrous” acceleration. Sixty mph arrives in as little as 3.8 seconds – not bad for a flagship cabriolet that tips the scales at 4,736 pounds. However, there’s a time and especially a place for a car of the M850’s size. It’s not something you can point and squirt at winding back roads. Wide-open spaces seem to be its natural environment.

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Unlike the Mercedes-Benz S-Class Cabriolet, the M850i Convertible’s interior has a pronounced sportiness to it. The rim of its steering wheel is thick like an M car’s. In fact, Rosenholtz likens it to the wheel in an E90 M3. “The steering is pretty light, but it feels more direct than you’ll get in … an S-Class Coupe.” The M850i’s cabin still has its share of available luxury materials, though; Rosenholtz’s test car is outfitted with glass switchgear and a crystal shift knob.

5series.net 2019 BMW M850i xDrive Convertible Review

If you don’t want to wait for the M8, you don’t have to. Clearly, there are plenty of incentives not to. However, instant gratification comes at a price. Getting your open-air 8 Series fix with the 2019 M850i xDrive Convertible will cost you at least $121,400.

Photos: Screenshots

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Derek Shiekhi's father raised him on cars. As a boy, Derek accompanied his dad as he bought classics such as post-WWII GM trucks and early Ford Mustang convertibles.

After loving cars for years and getting a bachelor's degree in Business Management, Derek decided to get an associate degree in journalism. His networking put him in contact with the editor of the Austin-American Statesman newspaper, who hired him to write freelance about automotive culture and events in Austin, Texas in 2013. One particular story led to him getting a certificate for learning the foundations of road racing.

While watching TV with his parents one fateful evening, he saw a commercial that changed his life. In it, Jeep touted the Wrangler as the Texas Auto Writers Association's "SUV of Texas." Derek knew he had to join the organization if he was going to advance as an automotive writer. He joined the Texas Auto Writers Association (TAWA) in 2014 and was fortunate to meet several nice people who connected him to the representatives of several automakers and the people who could give him access to press vehicles (the first one he ever got the keys to was a Lexus LX 570). He's now a regular at TAWA's two main events: the Texas Auto Roundup in the spring and the Texas Truck Rodeo in the fall.

Over the past several years, Derek has learned how to drive off-road in various four-wheel-drive SUVs (he even camped out for two nights in a Land Rover), and driven around various tracks in hot hatches, muscle cars, and exotics. Several of his pieces, including his article about the 2015 Ford F-150 being crowned TAWA's 2014 "Truck of Texas" and his review of the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider, have won awards in TAWA's annual Excellence in Craft Competition. Last year, his JK Forum profile of Wagonmaster, a business that restores Jeep Wagoneers, won prizes in TAWA’s signature writing contest and its pickup- and SUV-focused Texas Truck Invitational.

In addition to writing for a variety of Internet Brands sites, including JK Forum, H-D Forums, The Mustang Source, Mustang Forums, LS1Tech, HondaTech, Jaguar Forums, YotaTech, and Ford Truck Enthusiasts. Derek also started There Will Be Cars on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.

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