BMW reveals SA-bound 8 Series drop

BMW 8 Series Convertible images 26

Following a leak earlier this week, BMW has unveiled the all-new 8-Series Convertible.

The sole engine option in North America is BMW's twin-turbo 4.4-litre V8, which makes a happy 526 horsepower and 553 lb-ft of torque.

The 1955kg 840d xDrive can crack 0-62mph in 5.2sec, the 2055kg M850i xDrive in 3.9sec, and both have a limited top speed of 155mph.

While the auto industry is recovering from the free-for-all automotive costume contest known as SEMA, BMW is here to offer an antidote: the stylish, powerful and premium BMW M850i xDrive Convertible.

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Along with the folding roof, BMW has also added addition underbody bracing to offset the drop in rigidity, plus a strengthened windscreen and rollover bars - extended by a "pyrotechnic charge" - should the worst happen. (Mind you, I'm only five feet, eight inches tall, so larger folks likely won't feel so comfy.) And unlike the coupe, where the rakish roofline impedes ingress and egress, getting in and out of the convertible's back seats is a breeze. The intelligent transmission also takes input from the navigation system to improve efficiency and driving dynamics based on the route.

Each benefits from adaptive M Sport suspension as standard, although the M850i gets an electronically controlled locking differential included from the outset - it's an optional extra on the 840d, though. Longitudinally oriented lines and surfacing, driver-oriented cockpit and clearly structured arrangement of controls sharpen the focus on the dynamically engaging driving experience.

The standard soft-top roof is electrically operated and can be opened and closed in a rather novel way in just 15 seconds at the touch of a button and while driving at up to 50 kph (31 mph).

Removing a car's roof can also reduce the vehicle's body stiffness, causing it to flex when going around corners, so BMW has strengthened the Convertible's underpinnings with stiffer struts and panels. BMW built air vents into the front seat headrests that act as neck warmers. The Coupe, meanwhile, goes for $9,500 less at $111,900. Digital screens serve as the instrument cluster and infotainment hub and on the center console sit the gear lever and a rotary-dial controller.

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