Marc UrbanoCar and Driver
Lap Time: 2:55.5
Class: LL4 | Base: $156,145 | As Tested: $175,745
Power and Weight: 617 hp • 4224 lb • 6.8 lb/hp
Tires: Michelin Pilot Sport 4S, F: 275/35ZR-20 (102Y) ★ R: 285/35ZR-20 (104Y) ★
Social media rarely gets anything this right. Back in 2018, the snarkier corners of the internet began calling BMW’s new Le Mans racer Big M8 when they noticed the M8 GTE dwarfed the Ford GT on track. That turns out to be a fitting nickname for the road car, too. The BMW M8 Competition both drives large and delivers massive performance for a vehicle that’s as much a luxury cruiser as it is a sports car. It is 121 pounds heavier and more than a foot longer than the Jaguar F-type R, but it doesn’t feel any more unwieldy. The 4224-pound marauder laps with the stoicism of an Easter Island Moai. It cuts into corners quickly and then sticks to its path with unflappable poise. The M8 has so much midcorner stability that it borders on inert.
The 617-hp V-8 can’t be caught in a lull because it makes power everywhere in the rev range. All that thrust makes it easy to come off VIR’s straights at heady speeds. Of all the cars at this year’s running, only the McLaren, 911 Turbo S, and Shelby GT500 carry a higher speed into the uphill esses than the M8’s 140.1 mph.
Porsche’s Taycan—a car that literally weighs half a ton more—nips the BMW by 0.3 second. We attribute that to the EV’s low center of gravity and handling magic. The Taycan overtakes the Bimmer in the Climbing Esses, exiting 5.4 mph faster, and then squeezes ahead on the squiggly back half of the circuit.
We are also obligated to point out that last year’s BMW M5 Competition ran 1.5 seconds quicker than the M8 despite having a nearly identical spec sheet. Blame the weather or the car or the driver or the spicy chicken wings that driver ate the night before day three. Or just consider this the margin of variability between two different vehicles driven by two different drivers a year apart.
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