Testing the BMW Alpina B8 Gran Coupé

Vitamin B8? Yes, the Alpina also stimulates the metabolism. In this case, hormones play a subordinate role, because primarily the B8 Super Plus transforms into powerful propulsion. And otherwise?

English lawn. A narrow ribbon of asphalt stretching up a hill. The crowd behind the bales of straw cheers as the Alpina B8 rushes past eagerly. A bend later: screeching tires, followed by crunching sheet metal and exploding airbags. Luckily nobody was injured in the crash at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, where the green Gran Coupé caught itself in the bales of straw. But it has repercussions as far away as Germany. Because after the event, exactly this test car should come to Stuttgart.

And now? Just wait and see. There is no replacement for now. Sure, after all, only around 2,000 cars leave the halls in Buchloe per year, of course. The manufacturer's press fleet is correspondingly small.

A dream in blue and leather

Months later the time has finally come. Not a green, but a classic Alpina-blue B8 is parked on level U2 of the editorial underground car park. After the long wait, you approach the test differently – more consciously, so to speak. But that is also because this 8 Series is not a BMW series product, but an Alpina - in this case based on the M850i ​​Gran Coupé. According to the price list, it costs at least 162,100 euros, without extras. In the test car, they add up to over 20,000 euros. Sounds like a lot, and yet the price quickly puts it into perspective. Because if you let off steam in the in-house upholstery shop, which, like Rolls-Royce, sews five-digit cowhides, the 200,000 mark would quickly be broken. In addition, the competition is in similar spheres.

But what makes the B8 so special? At first glance, you can't really grasp it. Sure, the aprons with Alpina lettering hang lower, a small rump adorns the rear, and large forged wheels live in the wheel arches. But only connoisseurs would notice that. Well, that's part of the concept, or rather part of the company philosophy. Because an Alpina is a status symbol for everyone who can afford it but doesn't want to show it to everyone.

And then you sit in it and immediately feel the difference. Everything seems a touch finer here, which is mainly due to the attention to detail: Blue-green decorative stitching surrounds the carefully tanned leather of the steering wheel, which takes seven hours to produce by hand. Behind it, CNC-milled shift paddles made of aluminum protrude, and the company crest is emblazoned on top. Did the Swarovski crystal finish of the start button, i-Drive controller and gear selector really have been needed? Actually, they stand out unnecessarily from the subtle, anthracite-walnut ambience. Matching this, the gentlemen Bowers & Wilkins lock their tweeters and woofers behind perforated aluminum. They provide music and break the silence.

Because we started moving long ago, which of course you didn't notice. After all, the environment here rushes past you almost imperceptibly. Hissing - a pretty loud word for the calm that still prevails in the Alpina even at the recommended motorway speed. The B8 not only relaxes its driver acoustically, but also dynamically. You snuggle up deep in the leather sports seat, adjust it electrically, pull your cheeks up and save the whole thing to memory position one and two. Sure, because you don't want to share this place anymore.

Comfort king

This is mainly due to the Comfort+ mode, which is only available from Alpina. Once activated, you have to drive a long way until you find such a desolate piece of asphalt that the sedan program is pushed to its limits. Whether long or short waves, the Alpina balances them out. In addition, it smoothes out potholes using newly tuned damper software, while Eibach springs and active roll stabilization also calm the structure.

The only thing that bothers me is that the 21-inch wheels react a bit with a cold to transverse joints. No wonder given the low tire sidewall height and run-flat properties. But why is it so easy to forgive? Take a look at the 20-spoke forged wheels. Just kneel down, right? Especially since the non-slip rubber compound from Pirelli was specially tailored for the Gran Coupé. That's a good thing, because you can't have enough grip in this performance class.

Which brings us to the drive. As usual, the N63B44 sorts its eight cylinders at a 90-degree angle and can be ventilated by two twin-scroll chargers. What is new, however, is Alpina's flow-optimized intercooler with a larger cross-section on the hardware side. In terms of software, boost pressure and injection times are sorted fresh.

Can you feel it? Well, unlike the 8 Series or even the M8, the 4.4-liter biturbo never comes to the fore in comfort mode. So you can glide along quietly at 1,100 to 1,500 rpm. But that changes when you press the Sport button: now the biturbo is almost like a sucker on the gas.

With 800 Nm of torque, it delivers 50 more than in the M850i, collects it at 2,000 rpm and spreads it over a plateau up to 5,000 rpm. The power does not have to develop first, it is simply always there: no hesitation in starting or even stopping during intermediate sprints. In addition, the performance swells from formerly 530 to 621 hp at 5,500 to 6,500 rpm. Lots of power, managed by the ZF 8HP76 eight-speed automatic – a dream combination. Even in comfort mode, there is no shifting to be found. In "Sport" the next gear engages smoothly in 100 milliseconds.

In manual mode, on the other hand, flashing light bars in the head-up display warn you to change gears at seven thousand, and with a pull on the aluminum paddle, the next gear comes on in a flash.To ensure that the converter can withstand the additional power, the engineers have strengthened the wheel set including turbine torsion dampers, enlarged the oil cooler and installed an aluminum oil pan that hangs lower in the wind for better cooling. In addition, a reinforced drive shaft directs the power to the active rear axle differential.

Handling? Of course!

And this has to work properly now. Admittedly, as the introductory example warns, an Alpina is not intended for the race track, but we don't want to do without that completely with this car. The crooked handling course in Boxberg actually seems a whole size too narrow for the 5.09 meter long B8, but it presses greedily into the tight bends and lets its rear axle steer.

Although the all-wheel drive system does not allow the front axle to be decoupled like in the M8 due to this design, it likes to emphasize its rear-heavy design here. He plays his traction card especially on corner exits, powerslides off the curbs and storms out onto the straights. However, the Gran Coupé cannot hide its more than 2.1 tons, especially in the changing curves the pounds press.

Although it really never feels like a five-meter car. This also applies to the 18-meter slalom and double lane changes. In the former, the blue giant remains very neutral, in the latter it wipes away with its rear extremely late. If, on the other hand, the B8's grip on the front axle threatens to slip, the communicative steering system informs the driver in good time. And because the Alpina engineers stiffen the wishbones, adjust the swivel bearings and strengthen the pendulum supports, it steers even more precisely and linearly than the M850i.

And the brakes? They don't necessarily have to be made of carbon ceramic, as this Alpina proves. The 1,780 euro four-piston Brembo brake system, including perforated discs and thicker pads, can be finely dosed and stops the B8 from 100 km/h in a remarkable 32.4 meters.

Life in the fast lane

But back to the autobahn – next to the Super Plus gas pump, the natural habitat of the Gran Coupé. The test consumption of 12.9 liters per 100 km seems appropriate for the performance offered, but can easily be further increased. Incidentally, Alpina does not use an eco mode or even electrification measures. It is all the more remarkable that less than ten liters per 100 km are possible on the eco lap.

However, this requires discipline from the driver. Because although the four-door supports the relaxed way of moving, just take 11.5 seconds. For what? Tempo 200. From the state! The 3.4 seconds to 100 km/h are even more impressive. Or 324 km/h top. The really remarkable thing: Even at this speed, the B8 never gets hectic.

On the contrary: the digital display calmly climbs almost to the end of the scale at 340 km/h.It's just a pity that the speedometer, like the tachometer, in Alpina colors is difficult to read. Just a small flaw. After all, the infotainment system, including voice control, is otherwise beyond any doubt. So you turn and push yourself almost blindly through the menus and explore BMW's arsenal of assistance.

With this, the B8 follows speed limits with two preset deviations. If desired, it centers itself in the middle of the lane even at high speeds and animates other road users in the immediate vicinity of the vehicle on the digital display. It is even more impressive when it reverses semi-autonomously up to 50 meters or recognizes traffic light changes.

No, no racetrack start lights - after all, we're not in Goodwood.


At Alpina, the already very good 8-series basis matures into an almost perfect four-door GT with an enormously powerful drive, fine driving comfort and extremely agile handling. As usual at a high price.


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