BMW Alpina B8 Gran Coupé and Polestar 1 always fulfill their automotive duties. They combine comfort with sport and do not take off despite a lot of luxury. V8 biturbo with 621 hp versus hybrid hybrid with 609 hp: who wins the comparison test?
The spectrum ranges from resting pulse to flushing. The driver decides on the state of mind. In comfort mode, the supercharged eight-cylinder slumbers away at around 80 km/h and a speed of 1,200 rpm. The landing gear loosens the limbs. Until the right index finger presses the recessed switch on the center console – to the left of the crystal gear selector and below the glass start button. The sport level clicks into place. Another click and the software switches to Sport Plus. The calm is over. The systems incite the BMW Alpina. The engine rebels, no longer snuggles with the gas pedal, but grabs it. Tighten the dampers. Now someone wants to play.
The Gran Coupé is almost 5.1 meters long and weighs over 2.1 tons. The curves that spread across the landscape in front of the all-wheel drive vehicle are just right. Give in, the front axle follows. The engineers have changed the front wishbones compared to the base, they are now more rigid. To do this, they adjusted the swivel bearings and reinforced the pendulum supports. With the aim of trimming the steering characteristics of the 8-series a little more sportily, but at the same time achieving a very good level of comfort. That succeeded.
The Pirellis stick with the special compound. The Alpina latches onto the ideal line with zeal to follow up in the second part of the curve. His specialty isn't necessarily entering corners, but exiting them. Here he leaves a lasting impression. The driver slowly accelerates. The all-wheel drive pushes more and more torque to the rear while managing the limited-slip differential to match the grip of the rear wheels.
Halo car from a young brand
The back part pushes, turns the B8 further in - without anyone shooting across the corner here. The vote extends to just before debauchery. The emphasis is on: shortly before. The Alpina isn't one for the automotive lateral puller, if you don't overdo it. But one that focuses on traction. And how he accelerates onto the next straight – in this respect, hardly anyone can fool him. For more neutrality, work has been done on the tuning of all-wheel drive, rear-axle differential and rear-axle steering.
The manufacturer from Buchloe, Bavaria is asking 161,200 euros for its Gran Coupé based on the BMW M850i xDrive. It is 184,840 euros in the configuration shown here in the comparison test. The equivalent is a car that strolls between the worlds, constantly changing back and forth. Depending on what the driver wants to see, hear or feel.The sports car that tears down freeways at up to 324 km/h and tears apart corners on country roads. Or the comfortable GT, which smooths out bumps and seems to throw a carpet over notches in the asphalt. Engine performance, grip, traction, suspension comfort, stability, agility, controllability: the Alpina does its job with new springs and other damper hardware.
The Polestar 1 has to stretch quite a bit. And so much can be revealed in advance: the performance hybrid - conceived in Sweden, built in China - is no slouch. He is the so-called "Halo Car" of the still young brand that Volvo and Geely founded four years ago. The car, then, that Polestar aims to popularize, to put on the enthusiast's map. The shortage of a maximum of 1,500 copies helps in such a case because it arouses desire. Just like the shape of the 4.586 meters long and 2.023 meters wide with mirrors coupé. It stands there like a sculpture with a rather rounded front and square rear and wheel arches in between. Crouches with a height of 1,352 millimeters. In any case, someone draws their eyes to it.
The electrified performance GT points the way to a different future for the brand. With it, Polestar is bridging the gap between combustion engines and electric vehicles. The Polestar 1 has half as many cylinders as the B8, not even half as much displacement. A starter generator embedded in the crankshaft and two electric motors add two floors to half a house, making the Polarstern a globetrotter – between leisurely and sporty, between sports car and luxury vehicle. Like the Alpina.
B8 counters in longitudinal dynamics
That's why the Polestar 1, which has a basic price of 155,000 euros, and the B8 go so well together. They are two characters with almost identical performance and similar goals. Driving quickly from A to B, pampering the occupants at the same time and never being averse to detours into the winding prairie. The paths to the goal are different. Two-door on one side, Gran Coupé on the other. The Polestar is half a meter shorter and yet 228 kilograms heavier. The battery alone weighs 350 kilograms on him.
The counterpoint to 2,352 kilograms is a torque of up to 1,000 Newton meters. The system output is 609 hp. It springs from three sources. A two-liter four-cylinder that combines turbo and supercharging. The combustion engine delivers 309 hp and a torque of 435 Nm. An eight-speed automatic handles the power transmission. The 17 kg light starter generator contributes 68 hp and 161 Nm. At the back, an electric motor, each with 116 hp and 240 Nm, takes care of each wheel.
From a standing start, the quartet heaves the Polestar to 100 km/h in 4.2 seconds. It enchants with its dynamics, but doesn't flash you. The Alpina counters with a sprint time of 3.4 seconds.Up to 800 newton meters gather in it. With its 621 hp, it accelerates to 200 km/h in 11.5 seconds and outperforms the Polestar by 2.1 seconds. What did Alpina do to the 4.4-liter V8? Here is the short version: dethrottling of the engine, including through flow-optimized intercoolers with a larger cross-section, improved cooling, adjustment of boost pressure and injection parameters.
The strength of the Polestar are the intermediate sprints. First he lets the reins drag, roams along at 80 to 90 km/h before his right foot slams on the gas pedal. The electric motors suck the battery to the maximum, the combustion engine switches on and off the wild Luzie goes. In these moments he seems to throw the pounds overboard, lets off steam, makes the hybrid concept extremely palatable to the driver. The battery with a capacity of 34 kilowatt hours is divided into two packages. In everyday life with (in our case) significantly more high-speed phases, it supports the urge to perform for around 120 kilometers. Only then does the energy content come to an end. Really neat!
Noises like on a laptop
The Alpina does not have electric support. And he doesn't need them either. The 4.4-litre eight-cylinder with the turbos in the V is wide awake from 1,500 rpm and pushes particularly powerfully from 2,000 rpm. The power unfolds without dents up to the mark of 6,500 revolutions, then the automatic shifts into the next gear. Buttery soft and super fast at the same time.
But let's go back one more time. Even the start of the Polestar 1 is worth mentioning. On the center console behind the "Orrefors crystal" gear selector there isn't a start button, but a control - not for volume - which you turn to the right to boot the systems. That sounds more like a laptop than a car, because the combustion engine doesn't start at first, but the electric part takes over the starting. Another noise: The tugging on the shift paddles on the steering wheel sounds a bit like a mouse clicking. Small swing to the Alpina. The manufacturer attaches extra shift paddles made of aluminum (CNC-milled) to the steering wheel for 280 euros – significantly better than the small shift buttons.
The driving settings in the Polestar can be changed using a rotary wheel on the center console. "AWD" for all-wheel drive. "Pure" for electric rear-wheel drive. The mode is enough for a quick start, but doesn't carry you away. "Hybrid" prioritizes the electric machines and switches on the four-cylinder when required. The next driving mode, called "Power", is made for sport auto. In addition, the two-door car can be individually tuned via a fifth mode.
The steering does not require any effort from the driver, similar to the Alpina. However, the Polestar is a touch more indirect. The buttocks slip more around when turning on the leather seats, the front axle tolerates less dynamics.Otherwise, however, the Polestar behaves like the B8. He is looking forward to the second part of the curve.
It's time for the two electric motors at the rear, which weigh 117 kilos including the gearbox. One over-revs the wheel on the outside of the curve, accelerating it in a targeted manner so that it snaps the rear around the curve. All this can be controlled wonderfully because the tuning is right and the electronics use the electric machines specifically for driving dynamics without the rear axle fraying. You can still feel the heavy weight in every phase, even if the Polestar knows how to minimize it with his tricks. When accelerating out, the steering pulls, which is not annoying but makes the Polestar 1 come alive. Incidentally, the ESP can be persuaded to a maximum of a "sport" position. Switch off? It does not work.
In the slalom, the Alpina with rear-axle steering (up to 2.3 degrees) is slightly ahead, as it is in so many disciplines. Test driver Uwe Sener attests direct steering, good grip, and long neutral handling. The chassis acknowledges load changes with Querdrang. The Polestar is only marginally slower, its steering more indirect and slightly smoother. The kinematics brace themselves against too much movement in the body.
Two performers, one winner
The rear, which bears proportionally more weight than the front axle, pushes at the limit - albeit a bit inharmoniously when changing direction quickly between the pylons. Uwe's tip: It's better to stay slightly below the limit, but the Chinese Swede balances his way around quite neutrally - and is therefore faster overall than if you try to use a crowbar.
The hybrid GT develops a mini advantage when braking. Its brakes measuring 400 x 38 millimeters at the front (six-piston system) and 390 x 25 at the rear decelerate it from 100 km/h to a standstill in 33.4 meters. From 200 km/h, the Polestar stands after 134.8 meters. The Alpina keeps up with its high-performance brake system (1,780 euros), but is slightly inferior, but we are talking about nuances.
Especially since the Alpina shines in everyday life with its exuberant comfort in the "Comfort plus" program specially developed for this purpose. The Polestar also knows how to deal with bumps, but looks a bit clumsy and clumsy in direct comparison. It rumbles harder. Likewise, wind noise and the sounds of oncoming traffic penetrate more into the interior.
The bottom line is that we are dealing with two performers who combine sovereignty, spontaneity and stability. The Alpina only manages that a bit more light-footedly. Nevertheless, the Polestar has sold dearly. The drive concept works. He has quite an appealing acceleration and knows how to please in corners. We would have loved to have gone out on the race track with him – then the rest would have been over for good.
With the B8 Gran Coupé, Alpina has, as usual, used a good starting point for the brand to build an even better car. It accelerates extremely fast, lies well in the corners and lets the driver taste the difference to such an M8 at any time. The Polestar 1 holds up against it, never really lets itself be left behind, and is even a bit stronger on the brakes. These are two coupés with fundamentally different technology, with fundamentally different characters. And yet they are somehow close because they have mastered comfort and sport so comfortably.