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The 2020 BMW M8 Cabriolet Competition.

Mark Richardson/The Globe and Mail

The BMW M8 Cabriolet is not a subtle car, and especially not when it’s painted in the “Individual” colour option of Verde Mantis. Individual, indeed. This is a love-it-or-hate-it colour with no middle ground, much like the M8 itself.

“That’s a gorgeous car – I love the colour,” the guy on the sidewalk called over when I stopped my bright-green ride at a red light.

“Hideous,” said my friend Melanie when she saw the photo I’d posted on Facebook.

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“I love your car – I’m admiring that green,” said the stylish woman in a Toyota, driving slowly past in the parking lot.

But the best of them all: “I wouldn’t put my coffin in that car!” said my mother-in-law when she saw it parked outside her seniors’ residence. I told her it would only fit if the roof was down, and it could be arranged, propped up on the front passenger seat, but she’s still lamenting her much-beloved Honda Civic, a far more practical vehicle.

The Verde Mantis colour is among several 'Individual' options available.

Mark Richardson/The Globe and Mail

Her Civic was a far less expensive vehicle too, of course. The M8 is one of the priciest BMWs in the German maker’s lineup, and this tester was the “Competition” version. You can buy a basic M8 coupe for $151,000 before taxes and the convertible edition for almost $10,000 more than that, but the Competition lists for $173,500. For the extra money, you get a bump in power from 600 horsepower to 617, as well as a louder Sport exhaust that’s activated with the touch of a console button. That went down well at the seniors’ residence, I can tell you.

There are other advantages to the Competition version. The wheels are different, it has a firmer setting for the suspension, and it has a flashier Track mode on the instrument display. Most important, it has badges that tell everyone you’re driving the Competition edition. BMW says it’s a tenth of a second faster getting from zero to 100 km/h than the regular M8, but when that’s flashing past in 3.3 seconds, I doubt you’ll notice. I certainly didn’t.

Exterior badges ensure passersby know you're driving the Competition edition.

Mark Richardson/The Globe and Mail

The twin-turbo 4.4-litre V8 engine is a wonder of engineering, as you would expect. The really impressive thing is that this beast of a car is easy to drive sedately on humdrum errands, but if you press one of the red buttons on the steering wheel, it can turn instantly into a snarling, sparring, automotive monster.

BMW has always offered greater adjustability of the car’s controls than most makers. Heated seats, for example, can be set to a specific temperature and to the region of the seat. BMW will say this is because its owners are more exacting than most, while I would say its owners are just fussier, and that’s being charitable. Still, if you’re the fussy sort, you can set up pretty much everything about the M8 just as you think you like’ll it.

Red buttons on the steering wheel let the driver switch between custom drive modes.

Mark Richardson/The Globe and Mail

This means you can adjust the response of the engine, chassis, steering and brakes, and even set the all-wheel drive to rear-only, allowing you to slide around at the edge of adhesion on a racetrack. Those red steering-wheel buttons activate your own presets on the drive, so you can roar up to my mother-in-law in your own customized Sport Plus, then swoop her off to her doctor’s appointment in customized Comfort. She’ll be hunched down so as not to be recognized, of course. If she slides her seat forward, there’s even a reasonable amount of leg space for an adult in the two seats behind.

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The M8 has reasonable rear legroom, provided the front seats are slid forward.

Mark Richardson/The Globe and Mail

In fairness to BMW, the car itself is terrific to drive and responsive despite its size, though the Competition version is a waste of money if you don’t intend to drive it on the track. I’m surprised BMW doesn’t just offer the Competition as the only version, since bragging rights are important for a car like this. At these six-figure prices, an extra 5 per cent or so is not generally a big deal, and chances are you’ll want the ventilated seats, better sound system and carbon engine cover that all add to the price. With these and some other options, my tester’s price was pushed to $189,200 before taxes and the mysterious $2,480 Destination charge.

The drop-top version costs about $10,000 more than the base M8, and the Competition edition is even pricier.

Mark Richardson/The Globe and Mail

For that extra money, you also get additional choices of “Individual” paint colours, including Verde Mantis. You can order literally any colour you want for your new BMW, at a price, but when you pay the extra $14,500 for the “Individual Manufaktur Package,” that includes more than 90 new paint colours on top of the 15 colours in the regular range. Verde Mantis is based on a Lamborghini shade of green and was originally requested in 2017 by a customer for his BMW M4 Competition.

It was clearly quite a hit, though it’s unlikely you’ll see many other BMWs, or even Lamborghinis, painted in the same shade. For that, my mother-in-law is grateful, but don’t listen to her. I never do. Listen to the other 50 per cent of the population who love it. And if you ever doubt their judgment, listen to the engine instead. Just make sure you set it to Sport first.

Tech specs

The twin-turbo 4.4-litre V8 engine is a wonder of engineering.

Mark Richardson/The Globe and Mail

Base price/as tested: $173,500 / $189,200 plus $2,480 destination fee and taxes

Engine: 4.4-litre twin-power turbo V8, 617 hp/553 lb-ft. torque

Transmission/drive: 8-speed automatic/all-wheel-drive

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Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 16.0 city, 11.0 highway, 13.8 combined

Alternatives: Mercedes-Benz S-Class Cabriolet, Porsche 911 Turbo S, Audi S8, Aston Martin Vantage

The writer was a guest of the automaker. Content was not subject to approval.

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