2020 BMW 840i Convertible Test: More Than Pleasant, Less Than Sporty
Two fewer cylinders, two fewer driven wheels, but still a great choice for a certain type of driver.
SEATTLE—When BMW last year announced a six-cylinder version of its typically eight-cylinder flagship 8 Series coupe, convertible, and Gran Coupe four-door, it was easy to assume this was a model for the plebes who couldn't cough up the more than $100,000 needed for an 850i variant. But that's not really all there is to the story. After all, even this six-cylinder 2020 BMW 840i Convertible still costs a minimum of $98,395, before you get to options. Our gorgeous Bluestone Metallic test car? Well, the special matte paint alone is a $5,000 option, and when it was all said and done, our Monroney label showed a total suggested retail price of $117,845. A pauper's convertible, this is not.
2020 BMW 840i Convertible Test: Engine, Specs, and Cost
Instead, think of the 2020 BMW 840i Convertible as a lighter, more nimble version of its all-wheel-drive M850i xDrive cousin. With the smaller engine and rear-wheel-drive setup, the 4,211-pound drop-top weighs some 500 pounds less, while still making a healthy 335 horsepower and 368 lb-ft of torque from its turbocharged, 3.0-liter straight-six. That's enough to propel it from a standstill to 60 mph in a BMW-claimed 5.0-seconds, and on to an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph when equipped with summer tires (130 mph on all-seasons). Opt for an 840i Coupe without all the extra weight of the convertible mechanism and, if you keep options minimal, it's possible to purchase a sub-4,000-pound 8 Series, though only just.
Like its heavier, pricier, and more powerful twin, the 2020 BMW 840i Convertible is a good-looking design (in fact, we named the 8 Series our Automobile Design of the Year in 2019). Some might even find it a cleaner, prettier look devoid of all of the tacked-on M Sport appearance-package baubles, except our test car had the $4,550 M Sport package with Shadowline exterior trim. Other options that helped push the price into six figures were a $1,100 Driving Assistance package, an $800 Comfort Seating package, Ivory/Blue Full Merino Leather interior at $2,000, an excellent $3,400 Bowers & Wilkins stereo, and a $1,700 Driver's Assistance Pro package with its Extended Traffic Jam Assistant that will no doubt be useful when America's commuter highways and byways are packed full of cars again.
Certainly, you could make do without all of these options and still have an impressive car for less than that $100,000 price point. After all, BMW includes as standard the engaging M Sport Differential, Apple CarPlay, an M-styled steering wheel, heated front seats, steering wheel and armrest (great for chilly fall top-down drives), 19-inch M Sport wheels, Harmon Kardon stereo, a power-operated trunk lid, and Parking Assistant Plus, useful especially with the limited rear three-quarter visibility most convertible tops bring to the drive.
2020 BMW 840i Convertible Test: A Luxurious Interior and Quick-Working Top
Step into the 2020 BMW 840i Convertible's cabin and you probably won't want to get back out. It's a lovely place to spend time, and BMW's Live Cockpit Pro infotainment system makes it even more so with a large, crisp 10.25-inch touchscreen center display with excellent voice recognition. Unlike many other such voice-operable systems, we've long been impressed with BMW's ease of use with virtually none of the repetition needed with so many competitors, even when using it for the first time. Live Cockpit Pro includes navigation and a head-up display, plus a 12.3-inch digital-instrument cluster, all making getting where you're going a little easier with less distraction. There's also a touchpad for navigating display options (or the display's touchscreen itself), but we often found it easy enough to just use voice commands for most operations, so intuitive is the system.
The 2020 BMW 840i Convertible's power-folding roof is quick to operate with the push of a button, taking just 15 seconds or so to lower; you can slos stow it while travelling at speeds of up to 30 mph. BMW did add significant structural reinforcement when chopping the top of its 8 Series, despite the car's fairly rigid Carbon Core chassis, but while the result may be a bit heavier, it's worth it. Top dropped, the 840i Convertible feels perfectly taut with no real scuttle or flex and excellent road manners over uneven surfaces. At speeds exceeding 60 mph and with front and rear windows raised, the cabin remains a fairly calm, draft-free environment even without the ugly wind deflector installed.
2020 BMW 840i Convertible Test: Behind the Wheel.
That's all great, but how does the 2020 BMW 840i Convertible feel on the road? Surprisingly good, as it turns out. In fact, we like the rear-drive 840i's road manners even more than the all-wheel drive 850i xDrive, as it feels more engaging through the twisty stuff and generally more nimble, with a bit less weight over the nose. We didn't even really miss the 850i's nearly 200-hp of extra grunt, but we did miss an engaging soundtrack. Even toggled into Sport mode, BMW's I-6 was too muted for our tastes, an opinion that found us wishing for a sport-exhaust option. With two tons to push around and 335 hp, the 840i Convertible covers ground quickly, but it's certainly not the barnstormer the V-8 monster is. Still, the car seems better suited to the lower power level, as we've never found the more potent 8 Series to feel all that well tied-down.
At the end of the day, one glooming disappointment loomed: The 2020 BMW 840i Convertible never made us want to push it very hard. Its eight-speed automatic gearbox is quick enough up and down through its cogs, the I-6 has adequate grunt, and the rear-drive configuration should have made us want to drive the car harder. Unfortunately, all 8 Series Coupes and Convertibles feel more like cabin cruisers than speedboats. While there are perhaps few better cars for trundling down to the harbor in or taking a long, top-down cruise on a scenic highway, the 2020 BMW 840i Convertible is in its element humming along at legal speeds and low rpms, the engine silent, BMW's neck-warming air heaters on. This is a pleasure boat, not a speed queen. Thinking of getting away for the weekend? You'll figure out why those two diminutive rear seats make sense: the 840i Convertible is severely limited on trunk space due to its roof storage, so the extra rear room comes in handy.
While it's a stretch to call the 2020 BMW 840i Convertible a true sports car, it is a sporty-looking, comfortable, and elegant option if luxurious open-top cruising is your jam. For the would-be racers among us, there are better options available for similar money.
2020 BMW 840i Convertible Hits
- With a nice level of equipment even in standard trim, the 840i is expensive but it feels worth it
- Turbocharged I-6 engine gives enough grunt, transmission delivers smooth shifts
- Rear-drive configuration saves weight and cost
2020 BMW 840i Convertible Misses
- Sporty-looking doesn't equate to sporty driving
- At 4,200 pounds, this is a heavy cruiser
- Limited practicality for road trips or shopping runs