Back in the 1990s, when the original BMW 8 Series was still on sale, you could pay a shop to turn your range-topping coupe into a convertible. But BMW never actually sold a convertible 8 Series of its own. With the new 8 Series aimed squarely at the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, though, BMW has decided that now is the time to introduce its first official 8 Series Convertible.
The new 8 Series Convertible will initially only be available in 850i xDrive form, meaning it will have a 4.4-liter V-8 making 523 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque. BMW says that’s enough to launch from 0-60 mph in 3.8 seconds on your way to an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph. That 0-60 time is 0.2 second slower than the coupe, but both cars have the same top speed.
The convertible’s slightly slower acceleration can probably be blamed on the fact that it weighs a hefty 4,736 pounds, 258 pounds more than the coupe. Even though the 8 Series Convertible is built using carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic, aluminum, and other lightweight materials, cutting the roof off still requires adding reinforcements that drive up the curb weight.
Speaking of the roof, BMW says the soft-top can be raised or lowered in only 15 seconds at speeds of up to 30 mph. When the top is down, owners can use the standard deflector to keep the cabin from getting too windy and noisy. If it’s not needed, though, the deflector can be folded up and stored in the trunk. During colder months, you should still be able to drive around with the top down thanks to the neck warmers that are integrated into front headrests.
To protect passengers in the event of a crash, BMW uses an automatically activated rollover protection system. When the car detects a rollover, the system can extend two aluminum roll bars from behind the rear headrests in a fraction of a second.
Other than those changes, though, it sounds like the 8 Series Convertible is pretty much the same as the coupe. As we discovered in our first drive, that means precise steering, a well-programmed transmission, plenty of V-8 power, and the kind of on-track agility that belies the car’s massive size. Only this time around, you’ll be able to enjoy the drive with the wind in your hair.
If you like the idea of the 8 Series Convertible, BMW says you’ll only have to wait until March to buy one with a base price of $122,395 including destination. The 2019 BMW M850i xDrive will debut later this month at the L.A. auto show.
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