Should Mercedes-Benz be worried?

After many years of persistent requests from gearheads and several rumors, the BMW 8 Series finally returned to the market after almost 20 years. The grand tourer’s revival not only marks the return of an iconic Bimmer, but it also gives the Munich-based company a proper competitor against the highly-acclaimed Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe and the Bentley Continental GT. BMW also returns to the luxury coupe segment before Audi will bring the A9 into dealerships.

Previewed by a concept car unveiled in 2017, the new BMW 8 Series is more than just a two-door version of the 7 Series. On top of having a unique design, it also debuts new technologies for the brand and adds a bit of sportiness to an otherwise sober segment. But, how does it compare to the popular Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe? Let’s find out in the comparison below.

Exterior Comparison - BMW 8 Series vs Mercedes S-Class Coupe

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While both serve the same purpose in their respective lineups, one is a two-door version of a sedan, while the other one was designed on a clean sheet

The 8 Series and the S-Class Coupe are two completely different animals when it comes to design, but that’s not only because they’re built by different brands. On top of adhering to different identities, the two coupes were conceived with a different approach. While both serve the same purpose in their respective lineups, one is a two-door version of a sedan, while the other one was designed on a clean sheet.

Introduced in 2014 to revive the two-door version of Merc’s flagship sedan after two decades, the S-Class Coupe is exactly what its name says: a coupe version of the four-door. Granted, the roof has a sportier line while the rear fascia was revised to include new taillights, but beyond that, the coupe is identical to its sedan sibling. This isn’t an issue as the S-Class looks very elegant and the coupe body style gives it a classy grand tourer vibe, but compared to the new 8 Series, it’s just a remodeled sedan.

Comparison: BMW 8 Series Vs Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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The S-Class Coupe is exactly what its name says: a coupe version of the four-door

The 8 Series, on the other hand, stands out when compared to other Bimmer. While initial rumors suggested it would be based on the 7 Series — basically a recipe similar to Mercedes’ — BMW went wild a designed a brand-new car. It might not be as spectacular as the concept that previewed it, but the production 8 Series is a massive departure from both the 7 Series and the recently discontinued 6 Series coupe. What’s more, it’s a more aggressive proposition to the S-Class Coupe, especially when viewed from the front due to the sharp grille and headlamps and the big vents in the bumper. It’s the rear boasts the more elegant cues, but the M850i model still looks sportier than the S-Class Coupe from the rear, even when the Merc is equipped with the AMG package.

All told, I think that the new 8 Series is a better embodiment of the classic grand tourer concept simply because it blends elegance and sportiness in a seamless way. Also, the 8 Series is some four years newer and that makes a difference when it comes to design.

Interior Comparison - BMW 8 Series vs Mercedes S-Class Coupe

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Despite being four years older than the 8 Series, the S-Class Coupe boasts quite the fresh interior

Despite being four years older than the 8 Series, the S-Class Coupe boasts quite the fresh interior. The two-tier dashboard combines a lower section wrapped in leather and an upper area that comprises wood veneer on the passenger side and two massive screen in the center stack and in front of the driver. The center stack also includes what has become a trademark feature for Mercedes-Benz interior, in the form of four circular A/C vents and a slender control panel below.

The 12.3-inch displays are new additions for the 2018 model year and the main highlights here. Not only because they’re big, high-resolution units, but also because they’re now placed next to each other under the same hood. This makes it seem as if more than half of a dashboard is a big screen, a feature usually seen in futuristic concept cars only.

The steering wheel, the door panels, the seats, and the center console are all borrowed from the S-Class sedan so they’re as fancy as they get, especially when the upholstery has a two-tone finish. But even when you choose more sober colors, the aluminum trim, the contrast stitching, and the organic layout keep these features away from the boring side of interior design.

2019 BMW 8 Series Interior
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Surprisingly enough, the 8 Series has a more old-school layout infused with sports car-style design cues

Surprisingly enough, the 8 Series has a more old-school layout infused with sports car-style design cues. Whereas the S-Class Coupe will make you feel like your driving a limo, the 8 Series feels like a true sports car thanks to the tall center console and the sloping center stack that separates the driver and passenger compartments like in a Chevrolet Corvette. The lower fascia is also less prominent than in the S-Class, which further contributes to the sporty design.

The center stack that become increasingly wider toward the top is a nice touch too, although it’s safe to say that the overall design feels a bit cluttered below the infotainment display. The latter is also a bit unconventional due to its trapezoidal shape, plus the fact that it’s a "free standing" screen. This used to be a trend a few years back, but most automakers are now integrating the displays into the dash for a more cohesive design. Still, it’s far from dated and gives the 8 Series a unique look.

The sports car appearance continues with the instrument cluster. Although also fully digital like in the S-Class Coupe, it’s completely separated from the dash and stuffed under a thick hood. The graphics have race car written all over them, with arched markers for the speedo and the rev counter at the extremities and navigation data in the center. The wraparound design of the dash integrates the outer A/C vents into the top aluminum trim of the door panels. This is one of the very few details that are similar to the S-Class Coupe, but Merc went with a more stylish panel instead of race-inspired aluminum trim.

At the end of the day, both are great placed to spend time in, it’s just a matter of taste and what you need in your life.

Performance Comparison - BMW 8 Series vs Mercedes S-Class Coupe

Comparison: BMW 8 Series Vs Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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The S560 gets its juice from a 4.0-liter V-8 engine that delivers 469 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque

Both the S-Class Coupe and the 8 Series are offered with two engines each as of June 2018, but the differences between the drivetrains are rather big. While Mercedes only offers gasoline units for this model, the 8 Series also comes with a diesel engine. It’s worth noting that Mercedes is offering a couple of diesels in the S-Class sedan, but none of them made it in the two-door model.

The S-Class Coupe range begins with the 3.0-liter V-6, a turbocharged mill that cranks out a decent 367 horsepower and 368 pound-feet of torque. Hitting 60 mph from a standing start takes 5.5 seconds, which is pretty quick for a vehicle this size, but slower than BMW’s diesel offering in the 8 Series. This version of the S-Class Coupe is not available Stateside.

The S560 is only non-AMG model you can buy in the U.S. This variant gets its juice from a 4.0-liter V-8 engine. A familiar unit in modern Mercs, including AMG cars, the twin-turbo mill delivers 469 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. The S560 is significantly quicker from 0 to 60 mph, needing only 4.6 clicks to hit the benchmark. The top speed of both models is limited to the usual 155 mph.

Comparison: BMW 8 Series Vs Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe Drivetrain Wallpaper quality
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The M850i, an M-prepped coupe that's powered by a twin-turbo, 4.4-liter V-8, comes with 523 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque on tap

Moving over to the 8 Series, it gets two engines at launch. The first one is the 3.0-liter inline-six diesel that motivates the 840d. Taken from the 7 Series, the oil burner generates 316 horsepower and a solid 500 pound-feet of torque. Despite having less power than Merc’s V-6 gas engine, the extra torque enables the 840d to hit 60 mph more than a half-second quicker at 4.9 seconds. The 840d should return the best fuel economy in this comparison, but U.S. ratings aren’t yet available. Unfortunately, the oil burner might not make it to North America.

Finally, there’s the M850i, an M-prepped coupe that’s powered by a thoroughly revised version of the familiar twin-turbo, 4.4-liter V-8. The engine is rated at 523 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque, which places the M850i between the S560 Coupe and the Mercedes-AMG S63 Coupe. While a proper comparison is not possible, the M850i is quicker than any non-AMG S-Class Coupe model with a 0-to-60 mph sprint of 3.6 seconds.

Both the S-Class Coupe and the 8 Series feature automatic transmissions in the U.S., but the M850i benefits from a few extras due to its M-crafted package. Extra goodies include an Adaptive M suspension with electronically controlled dampers and rear-wheel steering.

Technology Comparison - BMW 8 Series vs Mercedes S-Class Coupe

Comparison: BMW 8 Series Vs Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe High Resolution Interior
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The S-Class Coupe may be four years old as of 2018, but it's far from dated

The S-Class Coupe may be four years old as of 2018, but it’s far from dated. When it was introduced in 2013, the S-Class was arguably the most advanced luxury vehicle on the market, and this helped it remain fresh until now. Of course, the 2018 facelift also helped by adding a few new features.

As mentioned above, the coupe comes with two massive 12.3-inch screen for infotainment and instrument cluster duties. These provide all the information you need about your vehicle, as well as access to all of the car’s advanced features. You can also use the touch controller on the center console, the swipe-sensitive buttons on the steering wheel, or the voice command feature. Updated for 2018, voice command can now be used to operate functions like HVAC, seat heating and cooling, fragrance, lighting, and even the head-up display.

The coupe comes with two massive 12.3-inch screen for infotainment and instrument cluster duties

Each trim is fitted with COMAND Online as standard. The system includes three-dimensional, hard-drive-based navigation with a topographical display and 3D buildings and provides real-time traffic information, car-to-infrastructure message, weather, fuel prices, and parking information.

Just like the sedan model, the coupe is semi-autonomous thanks to an Intelligent Drive system and the Drive Pilot that was first introduced with the E-Class in 2016. The latter enables the S-Class to follow the car in front at speeds of up to 130 mph and uses automatic braking and accelerating, as well as the Steering Pilot to handle moderate bends. There’s also a Speed Limit Pilot function that can automatically adjust the car’s speed according to on-the-road speed limits detected by a camera. Other driver assistance systems include Active Brake Assist, Attention Assist, and Remote Parking Pilot.

2019 BMW 8 Series Interior
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Tech-wise, the 8 Series comes with all the good stuff, starting with a standard cruise control system with braking function

Although much newer, the 8 Series gets a smaller infotainment display. While the 12.3-inch instrument cluster matches the S-Class’ in size, the infotainment screen measure only 10.25 inches. Granted, it’s by no means small and the resolution is high enough to not notice a big difference, but it’s two inches you might want to know about.

Tech-wise, it comes with all the good stuff, starting with a standard cruise control system with braking function, as well as Collision and Pedestrian Warning with City Braking function. There’s also Active Cruise Control with Stop & Go that maintains speed and handles various traffic situations at speeds of up to 130 mph, but this feature is optional. Other features that make the 8 Series semi-autonomous include Driving Assistant Professional with Lane Keeping Assistant, Active Side Collision Protection, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Change Warning, and Crossing Traffic Warning.

BMW latest head-up display is also included as standard, as is the Active Park Distance Control and Parking Assistant features that making parking easier no matter the lot. The 8 Series also gets a Remote Software Upgrade feature that keeps the vehicle up to date with the latest software.

In all, the two coupes come with about the same features. All of the names above might be a bit confusing unless you have the hours to read manuals, but the technologies are similar.

Should You Buy a BMW 8 Series or a Mercedes S-Class Coupe?

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The answer to this question depends on what you really want

To be completely honest, I think the answer to this question depends on what you want. More importantly, it depends on if you’re a fan of either brand, because it rarely happens for BMW and Mercedes-Benz enthusiasts to switch brands, especially in this highly expensive segment.

But if you’re new to the market or you simply want to upgrade or switch from another brand, picking between the two depends on what you need in your life. While both have solid equipment and technology packages, they’re set apart by the exterior design, the cabin layout, and the drivetrain options.

Do you want a more stylish version of an already segment-leading sedan? Well, then the S-Class Coupe is the car for you. It’s elegant, it doesn’t stand out as much, and it has that timeless interior that rivals with offerings from Bentley and Lexus. If you want the comfort of a grand tourer, but prefer sportier looks, then the 8 Series is pretty much the best choice you have.

Comparison: BMW 8 Series Vs Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe High Resolution Exterior
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Merc's 4.0-liter V-8 is nothing to sneeze at if you like pure gasoline grunt, but the M850i seems like the better option if you want that extra oomph

The Bimmer is also a good option if you want the classic grand tourer appearance with the aggressive front end, the subdued profile, heavily raked rear window, and the stylish, yet daring rear fascia.

If you want to combine the best of the luxury market with the best fuel economy you can have, the 8 Series is again the car to consider because it’s the only one with a diesel engine. There’s nothing wrong with paying over $100,000 for a luxury GT and opting for an oil burner. It’s plenty powerful, it has more torque than the gasoline S-Class Coupe, and cabin noise is definitely at a minimum thanks to BMW’s latest insulation materials.

Of course, Merc’s 4.0-liter V-8 is nothing to sneeze at if you like pure gasoline grunt, but the M850i seems like the better option if you want that extra oomph without going into M or AMG territory. Finally, the 8 Series will also provide you with the sports car-style cabin that you only find in vehicles like the Chevrolet Corvette and Porsche 911. Of course, given that you don’t prefer Mercedes’ lounge-style cockpit.

Final Thoughts

Comparison: BMW 8 Series Vs Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe Exterior Wallpaper quality
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It’s been a few good years since I actually liked the design of a BMW. Also, I’ve been a fan of Mercedes-Benz interiors ever since the latest S-Class was introduced in 2013. With that in mind, I wasn’t expecting to like the 8 Series next to the S-Class Coupe, but it took me completely by surprise. Okay, it’s not exactly spectacular. It’s still very familiar looking, and I can’t say it blew me away in a specific department, but I give it extra points for the unique design. Instead of a two-door version of the 7 Series or a slightly updated 6 Series, BMW went ahead and created the 8 Series on a clean sheet, and that’s a rare feat given today’s market trends. Needless to say, the S-Class Coupe remains a solid choice in just about every department, but it loses the battle due to being too similar to the sedan version.

Further reading

Comparison: BMW 8 Series Vs Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2019 BMW 8 Series.

Comparison: BMW 8 Series Vs Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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Read our full review on the 2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe.

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