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Twin Peaks In BMW Country

Derryn Wong
02/05/2022
2021 BMW X7 M50i  
2022 BMW M850i Gran Coupe 
CarBuyer Singapore  
Mountain view scenery

Touring Bavaria shows that two big-hearted M Performance cars, the BMW M850i Gran Coupe and BMW X7 M50i, still have a place for the Singaporean driver 


Many thanks to Dani Heyne for the photos (the good ones)

Bavaria, Germany – I’d argue a car with anything upwards of 3.0-litres is excessive when it comes to Singapore. We’re in an age where a 2.0-litre engine can crank out serious go, so what more a 2.5, a 3.0, or even a 4.4 V8?

M Performance Automobiles (MPAs) are the ‘semi-hot cars that straddle the Regular BMW – BMW M divide – if they were a Nando’s sauce, they’d be extra-hot. We find the smaller ones great fun in Singapore, like the M240i and even the M340i. But MPAs above the 5 Series – i.e. BMW’s ‘prestige’ range – tend to become too big and powerful to be properly tested in the Lion City.




When we reviewed the M850i Coupe in Singapore for the first time, it was clearly a car that could dance with the best of them. But Singapore being what it is – speed limits, road humps, roads to bore a geometry teacher – that side of the machine could only be peeked at, much less closely examined. 

2021 BMW X7 M50i  
2022 BMW M850i Gran Coupe 
CarBuyer Singapore  
Mountain view scenery

But here we have the M850i Gran Coupe, and the X7 M50i, and a wide swathe of Bavaria from Munich to the Alps to have a deep look at how the ‘Big MPAs’ really behave.


Singaporean spots Devil’s Bend, the Marina Barrage, and a restaurant called Love Handle – what do they all have in common with BMW?

Twin Peeks 

2022 BMW M850i Gran Coupe 
CarBuyer Singapore  
Frontal side 3/4 view low angle

Of the pair, the Gran Coupe is the ‘properly’ new model, with the 8 Series range recently getting a facelift and on track for a Singapore debut in the second half of 2022. Common for a lower-volume luxury model, the 8er has small tweaks like a new M bodykit design, and a new kidney grille design with back-lighting (but that’s subject to approval in SG). 

2022 BMW M850i Gran Coupe 
CarBuyer Singapore  
Rear 3/4 angle view low

What does draw eyeballs are the special badges: These are optional BMW M 50th anniversary items, and available to 8 Series owners (amongst others).  Inside, there’s more leather everywhere (headliner) and satin chrome buttons on the door (yes very minor), but you’re most likely to notice the larger interior screen that goes from 10.25-inches to 12.3-inches. 

Since it’s very much an 8er despite the four doors, the 8 GC has a cockpit lifted from its two-doored siblings, but it doesn’t take huge steps in flair. For what is clearly a Grand Tourer now in form and price, there isn’t much interior drama going on, unless you count BMW’s Display Key which is always a good conversation starter and lovely to hold. Sure you can do ‘remote-control-everything’ and more through BMW’s Connect app now, but that has none of the physical validation the Display Key brings. 

2022 BMW M850i Gran Coupe 
CarBuyer Singapore 
Rear seat Space

The driver remains the obvious focus, given the design, and with BMW’s familiar OS 7 dictating the approach, it’s not difficult to navigate and ergonomically sound. The 8 GC is low-slung but not a ground-chewer, so it’s still very easy to get into, even in the rear which has a surprisingly wide door aperture. 

Not Gran but Tall 

2021 BMW X7 M50i  
2022 BMW M850i Gran Coupe 
CarBuyer Singapore  
lake and mountain view

But looking from the front seat of the M850i at the towering X7 M50i barely gets you eye-level with the taillights. The X7 is not new, but it’s made its mark in Singapore as the biggest SUV you can get from BMW. 

2021 BMW X7 M50i  
CarBuyer Singapore  
Front 3/4

It’s what Americans call a ‘full-sized’ SUV, a label also applied to the mountainous Mercedes-Benz GLS and Lexus LX, so you know it’s absolutely gigantic. 5.3 metres long and 1.8-metres tall and 2.0-metres wide. The facelifted X7 has already been announced, but it’s CarBuyer’s first time testing the V8-powered X7 M50i. 

Motoring journalists usually fight to be the first to drive the fast, phallic car (here, that’s the M850i in case you need a hint) but I began this journey in the best place to take it easy: The second-row of the X7. This car came with the optional captain’s seats, two spacious thrones instead of a three-man bench, and it was glorious. 

2021 BMW X7 M50i   
CarBuyer Singapore  
Second row captain's chairs seats

Despite my driver being a Known Fiend, the X7’s adaptive air suspension delivered a pillowy, refined ride on our fight to escape Munich’s sprawl. Having come straight from the debut of the BMW i7 and with a deadline to meet, I wrote half of my news story (it’s a very good one, check it out here) there and then – and didn’t get carsick.

2021 BMW X7 M50i  
CarBuyer Singapore  
Second row aircon drink holder


With convenient bag space between the seats, AC controls, and USB-ports galore, the X7 was a superb mobile office.  Taking a break from the typing I looked up through the tall windows to see the city view had transitioned to Bavaria’s green countryside. It’s only when the roar of the M50i’s V8 came in more regularly that I realised we had reached the unlimited section of the Autobahn – and 180km/h wasn’t scary from the back seat, though my co-driver wisely kept the speed to below 200km/h, respecting the X7’s heft and height.

2021 BMW X7 M50i  
CarBuyer Singapore  
Alps Bavaria sunny field

I’ve had my doubts that big SUVs could emulate limousines, but the X7 shows it can be done. While we didn’t test the third row, the fact that it can swallow two large suitcases and have space for more bodes very well for long journeys with multiple people. 

2021 BMW X7 M50i   
CarBuyer Singapore

BMW M certainly has luxo-magic but it can’t defy physics, and that became clear as we hit tight mountain roads with the X7. At two-metres wide, more than five-metres long, and just under 2.5-tonnes, the X7 M50i is a hulking beast. The big V8 has grunt enough to make it a properly fast car in a straight line, and the adaptive air suspension and four-wheel steering try their best but can’t quite hide the bulk. It’s certainly more fun to drive in this situation than a normal X7, but it’s best to see the X7 M50i as a luxurious, spacious family SUV that’s quick on its feet rather than a B-road weapon. 

Page 2: What’s 200km/h+ in the M850i like?

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Tags:

8 series bmw BMW M gran coupe grand touring gt M Performance Automobiles m50i m850i touring x7 x7 m50i

About the Author

Derryn Wong

CarBuyer's chief editor brings 15 years of experience in automotive journalism, previously being the editor of Top Gear Singapore, a presenter for CNA, contributed to The Business Times, Today, and many other publications, and also covered technology as editor of Stuff magazine. An avid motorcyclist and photographer, he is the Chief Slave of two cats. Follow him on Instagram @werryndong

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