After politely asking if I can switch my BMW M8 Competition Coupe to drift mode, the pit crew worker responds with a quick “No.” Come to think of it, choosing to send 617 horsepower to only the rear wheels on a damp racetrack with off-camber corners and blind crests does sound like the etching on a Darwin Award. All-wheel drive it is.
The sheer fact I had such a choice speaks to the 2020 BMW M8 Competition Coupe and Convertible being rolling exercises in customizability. The choice of how many wheels you want driven is just one of myriad options. Drive mode settings are so copious that the steering wheel is flanked with twin M1 and M2 buttons finished in flashy crimson to summon driver presets on the fly.
The word is usually triggered by BMW’s girthier-than-average steering wheel diameter and the cockpit’s prevailing mood of stark masculinity. A premium, substantially finished feel prevails throughout the cabin, which is well insulated from the elements due to a thick, multi-layer soft top. Lowering it takes 15 seconds and can be done up to 31 mph, while a wind deflector that can be plugged into the back seat (and takes up space in the trunk when not in use) keeps the front compartment relatively quiet. Seat and neck warmers keeps it relatively toasty.
At least on the relatively smooth surfaces of Portugal’s well-paved mountain roads, the ride doesn’t get firm to the point of being uncomfortable, though it does appear to transmit virtually every ridge and crease in the pavement.
Though it’s hard to scratch the surface of the M8’s full capabilities during two sets of hot laps at the Algarve circuit, they still reveal quite a bit about the Competition Coupe’s underpinnings.
Though not as uncompromising as its most sporting competitor, the Porsche 911 Turbo, the M8 proves more driver-focused than the Mercedes-AMG S 63 coupe and more usable than the AMG GT two-seater. The ultra-high-performance two-door super coupe is a narrow niche, and the M8’s minuscule rear seats don’t make much of a case for hauling around grown adults. But for high-speed, track-capable ability and all-day comfort, the M8 achieves its mission with effortless potency and ease.