Lots of affluent people out there must sport fading tattoos beneath their Bonobos shirts and Burberry dresses.
A few might even occasionally trade wine for shots of rough-hewn whiskey, while a couple more probably keep Ducati Diavel motorcycles stashed somewhere.
These refined rebels appear to be the market for the 2019 BMW M850i coupe, a highly polished missile of a personal luxury car that’s part tony GT and part exhaust-popping, tire-spinning hot-rod.
Count me in – though I don’t have money or pedigree and my distant relatives apparently claimed our name because they lived under boxwood trees in England.
Hey, at least we knew enough to get out of that hot English sun. As you may have heard, the new 850 coupe replaces BMW’s previous 6-series cars and will get convertible and four-door Gran Coupe variants.
It kind of harkens back to those striking 850 BMW coupes from the late ‘90s, stunners that even Ferrari snobs admired from afar.
Right up front, the 850 I had recently probably confused the country club set with retina-searing burnt-orange paint visible from outer space.
Low and wide, it featured BMW’s signature dual kidney grilles -- blacked-out and looking a bit toothy on the aggressive 850.
Large scowling headlamps peeked out from the edge of the 850’s long, powerful hood, while taut sides settled on 20-inch black wheels (yawn) wrapped with 245/35 tires up front and 275/30s in back.
What really gave the 850 its subtle strut and sneer was a low, sensuously-flowing top fitted with a carbon-fiber insert.
Subtle, however, kind of disappears into the urban haze once you fire up the coupe’s twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V-8.
With 523-horsepower and all-wheel-drive, the 850 slots in between the 456-horsepower BMW M550i sedan and the asphalt-shredding 617-horse Bimmer M5.
It doesn’t feel like much of a compromise, though. The $119,000 850 I had recently responded to even slight nudges on the throttle with a husky growl and hearty surge.
Mash hard and the engine paused for a millisecond or two before ripping to 60 mph with a bellow in an eye-blurring 3.3 seconds, according to Car and Driver.
With the ZF 8-speed automatic clicking off positive, 6,000-rpm shifts, it kind of felt like surfing a tsunami.
Get this: The thundering 850 is rated at 20 miles per gallon overall, which is sort of like a pistol that can also be used as a hammer.
Moreover, despite the 850’s hefty 4,400-pound weight, it hunted down corners with deft turn-in, great grip from the all-wheel-drive and a body that stayed flat and stable.
In “sport” mode, the car felt even more intense, turning in sharper with slightly more communicative steering – emphasis on slight.
However, the ride suffered some in that mode, becoming firmer and stepping a little harder over bumps.
Still, in either sport or comfort modes, the 850 behaved mostly like a polished, extremely fast GT rather than some angry, thundering sports car with blood in its eyes.
I wanted to squeeze a couple of downtown attorneys into the car and make a banzai, one-day run to L.A.
While the attorneys could presumably bail me out, they might find the elegant leather accommodations inside to be a bit cramped.
You won’t notice it up front, though, where a smooth black dashboard curved elegantly down to a brash center stack anchored by a 10.25-inch display screen.
BMW, as you may have heard, sometimes puts fashion over function, and on the 850, requires you to scroll through that giant screen to tune the Harman Kardon stereo. That should be a breeze in rush-hour traffic.
At least, Bimmer provided Apple CarPlay capability and wireless charging for all your digital devices.
Meanwhile, a crystal-glass shift-knob atop the 850’s pesky electric shift on the console just didn’t seem right on a BMW.
I found more pleasure in the baseball-mit brown lower dash and similarly appointed door panels with graceful leather-covered hoops for handles.
Likewise, the seats flashed perforated black bolsters with adjustable centers in the mit-brown.
The back seat, however, was useful only as a luxurious shelf or somewhere to let your miniature poodle pace.
Options on my 850 included the carbon-fiber roof panel ($3,000); a cooling and high-performance tire package ($1,850); and the glass shifter ($650).
Poised, potent, six-figure coupes like the stylish 850 always remind me that the rich don’t just live better.
They get to live faster.
2019 BMW M850i Coupe
- What I liked most: The 850’s staggeringly powerful 4.4-liter V-8 and the highly capable suspension system that supported it.
- What I would change: The crystal shift knob and the giant display screen that forced me to use it to tune the stereo, which admittedly isn’t much.
- MSRP: Base price, $111,900; as equipped, $119,295.
- Official color: Sunset Orange Metallic.
- Fuel economy: 18 miles per gallon in town, 25 on the highway and 20 mpg combined with filler on the right.
- Odometer reading when tested: 5,091 miles.
- Spare tire: None.
- Weight: 4,400 pounds.
- Length-width-height: 191.2 inches long/74.9 inches wide/53 inches tall.
- Fuel-tank capacity: 18 gallons.
- Towing capacity: Not applicable.
- 2019 BMW M850i in a few words: Money may not be able to buy happiness, but it can darn sure purchase excellence in a German GT – and I’ll settle for that.
- Warranty: Four-years, 50,000-miles, including free basic maintenance for three years or 36,000 miles.
- Final assembly location: Dingolfing, Germany
- Manufacturer’s website: www.bmwusa.com
- E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Up next: 2020 Jaguar XE P300