Upon learning what it is I do, the first question most seem to ask is what my favourite car is. While there is always more context required, and the answer regularly changing thanks to my serious automotive addiction, sometimes there is an answer. This 2022 Alpina B8 Gran Coupe has not only won over my heart, but is added to the small list of my favourite cars of all time.
It’s not just the Alpina Green Metallic paint, which is one of the richest greens I have ever seen, or the four-door coupé styling that immediately makes the previous 6-series Gran Coupé seem outdated. It’s not the stunning 21-inch Alpina wheels, or the scrumptious two-tone Ivory White and Tartufo Merino leather interior. The Alpina B8 impresses with its overall package; the way that everything comes together to create automotive perfection.
The Alpina B8 is a bit different from the BMW M8 Gran Coupé, a car that we reviewed last year and did enjoy very much. It offers the same twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V8, but it’s tuned more for comfort and autobahn-storming rather than the racetrack. Output is 612 horsepower and 590 lb-ft. of torque, less than the M8 Competition’s 617 but more than the M850i’s “modest” 523 horse number. BMW promises an acceleration time of 3.5-seconds to 100km/h, and that’s not a bad thing at all.
If sheer straight line speed and cornering ability is your top priority, the M8 Competition is the way to go. The Alpina B8 is more of an executive saloon, one that has a younger and fresher look than the 7-series, though with just as much panache as expected from a flagship. Unique bits to the Alpina B8 include some slightly modified bodywork on the front and rear, a lip spoiler and diffuser on the rear end, and bigger intakes on the front.
Ride quality is an area where everything bearing the Alpina name simply excels. The suspension is specifically tuned for this application, including adaptive dampers and Eibach springs. Hydraulic mounts on the front struts are present, and Alpina has also reinforced the sway bars for a wonderfully compliant ride. The “Comfort Plus” setting isolates the driver and passengers from any semblance of road vibrations, and the noise cancelling is simply brilliant. It’s easy to carry a whisper-quiet conversation while doing highway speeds.
Put your foot down, however, and the 612-horse V8 reminds you that it’s ready to hustle with the best. Flick the drive mode into “Sport” or “Sport Plus”, and the perfect ZF eight-speed transmission ensures that this green monster is poised to pull off any quick passes effortlessly. The exhaust has a great throaty roar to it, but it’s more subtle than anything with an “M” badge on it, and more towards the side of confidence rather than wildness.
BMW has one area where their latest powertrains are a pleasant surprise, and that’s fuel economy. The 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder in the “40i” series cars is more efficient than most other sixes on the market, and the boosted V8 here is no different. We observed a thrifty 12.0L/100km, which is more than reasonable for a car packing more than 600 horsepower under the hood. Our test took place in a combined environment, with optimal temperatures and use of 93-octane premium fuel.
Where the Alpina model shows off its worth most obviously is the cabin. The absolutely stunning two-tone leather interior equipped here left quite a few friends and family members speechless during our test week. Materials are top shelf with no compromises, and unique blue and green Alpina stitching on the steering wheel matches very well with the rest of the trim. The four-seat configuration is beautiful to look at, though we presume the odd buyer may actually want a fifth seat.
We found front and rear accommodations just fine, with plenty of legroom. Obviously, thanks to the roofline, rear headroom is compromised for taller passengers. The electronics are standard fare for BMW, with the infotainment powered by the latest version of iDrive. The Bowers & Wilkins sound system is adequate, but we prefer their application in Volvo’s latest vehicles. All of the expected driver assist technology is on board, including lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, all of the collision warning systems, and more.
Despite Alpina technically being a separate brand, the B8 can be ordered from any authorized BMW retailer in Canada. Pricing starts at $159,900, and our car had a few standalone options including the $4,900 Bowers & Wilkins sound system, $4,500 for full Merino leather, $1,500 for Laserlight headlights, $500 for ventilated seats, and $1,500 for side and rear sun shades. The total sticker came to $176,650, which isn’t far off from the $175,000 price tag of the M8 Gran Coupe Competition that we reviewed last year. It really is a “choose your own adventure” situation.
At this kind of coin, it’s an eyeroll-worthy statement to say that the B8 is one of my favourite cars on the road right now. But, it’s worth noting that other cars in BMW’s own lineup, like the M550i xDrive, are available and provide a very similar experience. The difference between the M550i’s 523 horsepower versus the Alpina’s 612 is barely noticeable on the road, and if you forego some of the exclusive materials and craftsmanship of the B8, you can have a very, very nice car for $75,000 less.
That said, my frugal logic needn’t apply here – this 2022 Alpina B8 Gran Coupe is simply a marvellous car no matter how you look at it. The fit and finish, scrumptious smoothness and gorgeous visual touches make it something special. Mercedes offers this level of luxury at the Maybach level, and Porsche’s Exclusive Manufaktur gets close as well. The understated elegance of the Alpina name is in a class of its own – those who know will know, and those who don’t won’t matter.