The BMW M850i XDrive Convertible is like a spendy Mustang with a BMW badge with its long hood and two large doors. It’s a cross between a muscle car and a cruiser that starts in the six-figures. This is a BMW that almost lives up to the “ultimate driving machine” slogan. It excels at grand touring, preferably with the top down. In fact, with the push of a button, you can drop the top in 15 seconds.
The 8-Series is all new for 2019 and is available as a coupe and soft-top convertible. The convertible hit showrooms in March. It has a starting price of $121,400 and can quickly escalate from there with packages and options. All-wheel-drive is standard.
The M850i XDrive Convertible is powered by a twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 that makes 523 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque, paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. BMW says it can rocket from zero to 60 mph in just 3.8 seconds.
Yep, the M850i Convertible is fun to drive! The eight-speed shifts smoothly and quickly, and despite its hulk, the convertible stays planted when cornering. Bumps and rough roads are barely noticeable. Where the M850i Convertible really shines, though, is as a GT—Grand Tourer. It’s made for cruising on the highway, preferably with the top down. While there’s plenty of smooth power, some rivals offer more athletic handling.
Fuel efficiency isn’t great but is about what you’d expect in a vehicle that has a V8 and weighs 4,607 pounds. EPA estimates for my tester are 17 mpg city and 26 mpg highway with a combined rating of 20. I got 23 mpg during my week with a mix of city and highway driving, including a round trip between Portland and Bend. Premium fuel is required.
The interior is sleek and stylish with beautiful saddle-quality leather and top stitching in a contrasting color, and classy metallic accents. But there’s some plastic on the doors. The 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and 10.3-inch touchscreen dominate the dash board and center stack. The graphics look great and the touchscreen responds quickly to touch and voice commands. You can also pinch and swipe the touchscreen, just as you would a tablet.
My tester has the optional $650 glass controls featuring Swarovski crystal on the start/stop button, audio volume knobs, gear shift lever and iDrive controller. These really make the cabin look sharp!
Passengers in front are swathed in comfort with decent leg- and headroom. The standard sport seats are extremely supportive and can be adjusted 20 ways so you’re sure to find the perfect position.
The second row is another story. Sure, the convertible can supposedly fit four passengers, but no adults will want to spend more than a few minutes back there because there’s almost no legroom, and headroom vanishes when the top is up. At least you can use the back row for cargo.
Standard features include keyless entry, remote start, Merino leather upholstery, power-adjustable front seats, heated front seats, wind deflector, dual-zone climate control, 12-speaker Harman Kardon audio system and digital amplifier, satellite radio, HD radio, Bluetooth, wireless device charging, two USB ports, Wi-Fi hotspot, ambient light feature with changeable colors, head-up display, and Icon adaptive LED headlights with LaserLight technology that are the slimmest headlights of any BMW model to date. Apple CarPlay is also standard, but after the first year, it’ll cost you $80 for an annual subscription.
A rockin’ Bowers & Wilkins Diamond Surround Sound System is available. This system cranks out 1,375 watts!
Since you’re already spending upwards of $121,000 for this convertible, you may as well get the $400 neck warmer—heating vents in the front seat head restraints that that direct warm air at your neck and shoulders. Perfect for cruising with the top down when it’s a bit chilly.
Many driver assistance technologies are standard including a surround-view camera, blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection with city braking function, front and rear parking sensors, automatic parallel parking, and rear cross traffic alert.
Also standard is the BMW Active Protection System, which preps occupants for an impending collision by tightening seat belts and closing the windows. Some of these features are part of BMW’s Active Driving Assistant.
Available driver assistance technologies include night vision assist with animal detection, lane keep assist, and front cross traffic alert.
The optional Driving Assistant Professional package includes Active Cruise Control with Stop & Go function. This system can be used at speeds up to 130 mph and maintains and adjusts the desired speed as needed, and can even stop the car and start it again after being stationary for up to 30 seconds. This package also includes the Steering and Lane Control assistant which keeps the vehicle in its lane, and the Lane Keeping Assistant with Active Side Collision Protection. This system makes visual warning signals and vibrates the steering wheel, and also uses active steering intervention to help avoid a collision. The Driving Assistant Professional also includes the evasion aid, which now also reacts to pedestrians.
The iDrive system is now in its seventh generation and will be familiar to BMW drivers. Non-BMW drivers will need to take some time to become acquainted with this system. You can use a touchpad controller, the touchscreen or voice commands to interact with the system. Graphics are super sharp. The system is highly customizable and your settings are stored in the BMW cloud and can follow you to other BMW vehicles.
The convertible has 12.4 cubic feet of storage in the trunk. A hands-free liftgate is standard. You can also use the backseat for cargo, since no humans will want to sit back there on a long drive.
Beautiful Bimmer convertible
Almost an “ultimate driving machine”
Great for grand touring
Loaded with tech
Infotainment system easy to use once you’re familiar with it
Top goes up and down in 15 seconds at speeds up to 30 mph
Some rivals offer more athletic handling
Interior not as posh as some competitors
Apple CarPlay costs $80 per year
Very cramped back seat
My tester starts at $121,400. The Dravit Grey Metallic paint is $1,950. The Driving Assistance Package is $900 and adds parking Assistant Plus, Active Blind Spot Detection, Front Collision Warning with City Collision Mitigation, Lane Departure Warning, rear view camera, and surround view with 3D view camera. The Drivers Assistance Pro Package is $1,700 and adds Extended Traffic Jam Assistant and Active Driving Assistant Pro. The Glass controls are $650. The neck warmer is $400. The Bowers and Wilkins sound system is $3,400. Destination charge is $995 bringing the grand total to $131,395.
The 2019 BMW M850i XDrive Convertible is large and in-charge. While it may not have the athletic performance of some rivals, it’s still awfully fun to drive and excels as a cruiser. With loads of tech and a stylish interior, you’ll be ready for top-down fun. If you have more than $121K to spend on a convertible, you should try this almost ultimate driving machine.