THERE is a fine line between fear and exhilaration, a line that you become very familiar with the first time you launch a 2020 BMW M8 Competition. Weirdly enough, the side effect of riding that line is uncontrollable laughter.
We’ve peaked your interest now haven’t we? The first thing that hits you walking up to the M8 Competition is just how big it is. Measuring almost five metres long and as near as makes no difference, two metres wide, the M8 has an unmistakable presence.
That personality, if you will, is not only visible on the road, but wherever it is parked. Combined with the striking frozen Marina Bay Blue paint that our test car came adorned in, the attention this car received was obvious.
Endless pictures on mobile phones, pointing fingers and joggers running backwards all show that in the M8 Competition, your anonymity is no more. And that is before you fire up the 4.4-litre V8.
Prod the red engine start button and all eight cylinders of fury bark into life, sending tingles down your spine, and shock and awe through anyone lucky enough to be standing behind it.
The pops and crackles from the M Sport exhaust system are addictive, although your neighbours probably won’t appreciate them as much as you might (mine didn’t). You see this engine is a masterpiece, and one that needs to be heard.
As we mentioned earlier, the V8 engine is 4.4-litres in displacement and twin-turbocharged with some clever exhaust work to have the turbos tuned for optimum response.
Delivered through an 8-Speed M Steptronic automatic transmission which, thanks to the systems Drivelogic, you can adjust the ferocity of the gear shifts from racy to comfortable.
460kW and 750Nm. That is not a typo. 0-100km/h in 3.2 seconds. Neither is that. And if you’re wondering what that feels like, the only answer is, mind bending.
Imagine this. You have a deserted country road to yourself, you have deactivated M Dynamic Mode on the ESC system, your left foot is on the brake and right flat on the throttle.
A little message appears at the bottom of the dash telling you that Launch Control is active, you pause, trying to prepare yourself.
What happens next is hard to describe. The instant you release your foot off the brake, it’s as if you momentarily black out because the assault on your senses is so violent, your brain can’t process what is happening.
A fraction of a second later you become acutely aware of the savage forward propulsion your body is being subjected to, which probably isn’t natural to you, so your next feeling is a flash of fear.
That fear is quickly overcome with sheer exhilaration as you slingshot at warp speed towards the horizon. It’s for this reason, we make the following public service announcement.
Caution: When driving the 2020 BMW M8 Competition, tingles in your face and blurred vision may result when using launch control. Uncontrollable laughter is also known as an after effect. You have been warned.
What helps make this astounding acceleration possible is BMW’s M xDrive all-wheel drive system, transmitting all that power to the tarmac with a minimum of fuss.
The M8 Competition comes equipped with 20-inch wheels all round with 275 section tyres up front and 285 in the rear which are surprisingly small for a car of this calibre.
The Active M differential also has a party trick up its sleeve for those really adventurous among you, which is its ability to change the drive train to 2WD mode for a true rear-wheel drive sports car experience.
Not for the faint of heart (or driving ability for that matter), this is best explored in the relative safe confines of a racetrack. This statement also applies for finding the true handling capabilities of the BMW M8 Competition.
So capable and highly engineered is this car’s adaptive M suspension, that exploring its limits on a public road is simply irresponsible and dangerous. The speed at which you will be travelling before it gives a hint of losing composure will see you behind bars.
As fitted to our test car, all of this power and handling prowess is thankfully supported in the braking department by BMW’s M Carbon ceramic brake option. Configurable in its pedal feel, you can choose between a Comfort or a Sport mode.
Your decision alters the amount of feedback and pedal pressure required to slow the car down. Obviously, it goes without saying that the interior and equipment of the M8 Competition is impressive to say the least as well.
Adorned in lashings of carbon fibre, Alcantara and Merino leather, it delivers a balance of luxury feel and race car materials that reflect its wide range of abilities.
You will immediately notice the two extra red paddles mounted on the steering wheel labelled M1 and M2. These are individually programmable shortcuts to different drive modes which you can tailor to your needs.
Choose your desired settings from all of the available systems such as the transmission, assistance systems, drive train mode, and exhaust to name a few.
Push a paddle once to select, twice to confirm the change, and the M8 Competition becomes your individually tailored weapon, ready for you to extract the most out of it as you so choose.
BMW’s Live Cockpit Professional controls all of your infotainment and vehicle settings, including the driver assistance systems via a high-resolution 10.25-inch control display and a 12.3-inch instrument display, complemented by an M specific head-up display.
All of the relevant information is presented beautifully and clear so distractions are minimised, and you can focus on the task at hand. Priced from $380,698 plus on roads, opposition in the market for the 2020 BMW M8 Competition is kind of a moot point.
At this price point, you are most likely to be purchasing with your heart rather than your head and weighing up specs and options in a pros and cons list.
So, if the quickest and most powerful M car BMW has ever produced appeals to you, just know this, while yes, it is uber fast and makes some noises that would make even Thor look twice, it’s also incredibly capable as a luxury cruiser and long distance hauler.
The 2020 BMW M8 Competition makes a statement, in more ways than one. If you’re fortunate enough to have one occupy your garage then we applaud you on your choice, just as much as we applaud BMW for making a truly amazing piece of machinery.
Our test vehicle was provided by BMW Australia. To find out more about the 2020 BMW M8 Competition, contact your local BMW dealer. Pictures courtesy of Mushroom Owl Photography.