2020 BMW 840i

INDIANAPOLIS — I’ve been craving a grilled chicken sandwich and rolls from the Beef House Restaurant near Covington, Indiana.  With a BMW 840i in the driveway, an 80-mile drive for a yummy snack no longer seemed excessive.  Given too many days locked down with COVID-19 restrictions, I just wanted some road time and a great meal.  I got both in BMW’s best coupe in decades.
I’ve always liked driving BMW coupes, but looking at them, not so much with their weird angles, bulging headlamps, Bangle butts, and fat fenders.  But, this car is different.  It’s the most expertly styled BMW coupe since Paul Bracq unleashed the ‘80s E24 6-Series upon the world’s motorways. 
It starts with a wide chromed up version of BMW’s trademark twin-kidney grille sharing the stage with LED headlamps and angry lower facia.  An almost fastback roofline rests atop sculpted bodysides that exaggerate the rear haunches and a chiseled athletic stance.  M Sport 20” wheels fill the fenders.  Even at the rear, where BMW’s angled ugliness attempts a rerun, lamps are smoked and cuddle the decklid.  I could stare for hours.
But, I wasn’t really interested in staring.  It took only minutes to meander through city traffic, click onto I465, and a mile later, sweep onto I74 towards Illinois.  It was time to light the tires, settle in, and check the mettle of this swift chariot.
BMW will tell you the 840i shares its “Carbon Core” flexible architecture with the large 7-Series sedan, but it seems much more 5-Series inside.  Ambience certainly leans more 7- than 5-Series, though, as opulence touches the stitched dash coverings, intricate aluminum console panels, and thick leather-wrapped M steering wheel.  It smells like sugared calfskin.  It feels pretty good too given heated front seats, steering wheel, and armrests (no chilly elbows).  Ventilated front seats cool during summer.  BMW finally tamed its controversial iDrive joywheel-based infotainment system.  Menus are more intuitive and you can put fingers to touchscreen if you desire.

Harman Kardon audio brought ear-saturating joy on the open road while wireless phone charging, Wi-Fi hotspot, and Apple CarPlay kept devices pumping.  I love the head-up display.  Blind spot warning, lane keep assist, rear cross traffic alert, and 360-degree camera are part of the package, and with plenty of miles to and fro, I really appreciated adaptive cruise with lane-centering steering (keep a hand on the wheel, please).
Shoving the car towards Illinois and back was a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline six-cylinder engine shoveling out 335 horsepower and 368 lb.-ft. of torque — all routed to the rear wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission.  Let it shift itself or caress paddles to do it yourself.  Fully throttled, employing launch control, the big coupe eviscerates 0-60 mph in just 4.7 seconds (faster than the V12-powered 850i from the ‘90s).  Keeping this bun run affordable, it achieves 23/30-MPG city/highway.  That’s the same as a Subaru Outback.  I’d love it without auto stop/start, but nothing is perfect.
There’s a lot more technology keeping this lush rocket on its trajectory.  The drive mode selector moves between Eco Pro, Comfort, and Sport modes while progressively firming the suspension, adding weight to the steering, and making the throttle more sensitive.  Given I wasn’t tearing up a road course, I kept it in comfort mode for a firm, yet compliant ride.  Another neat trick is the 840i’s Integral Active Steering that automatically changes steering ratio and adds rear steering input for more maneuverability while parking and stability at speed.
I rolled into the Beef House precisely at 6:00pm - the time I predicted when I left my driveway ninety minutes before.  Food was ready.  I drug it to the car like a hungry dog who almost felt bad gargling down the greasy sandwich and fries in such a sumptuous cabin.  Almost.  It was certainly the nicest dining room I’ve been in for a while.  Heck, it’s the only dining room I’ve been in for a while.  Sandwich snarfed, it was back to the Interstate with a dozen rolls resting on the seat.  Carnage ensued; only 10 made it home.   
A quick trip to gather yeasty deliciousness proved the 840i is a serious tool of rapid transport.  It was beautiful, comfortable, and when asked, brutally fast.  It’s also surprisingly efficient, which will be appreciated when writing checks that seem like mortgage payments.  Rolls, chicken sandwich, and gas came in under $30, but prices for the 840i rise like dough from a base of $87,900 to $101,445 fully baked.  If you’re getting the rolls, go ahead and slather on strawberry sauce or apple butter.  It’s all delicious.

— Casey Williams