2022 Alpina B8 Gran Coupé G16
One step beyond. How well does the Alpina formula translate to a big-booted, V8-powered super-cruiser?
First drives ALPINA B8 GRAN COUPE
Same money, give or take a few thou. Almost the same output. Similar looks and performance. So what splits the BMW M8 Gran Coupe and Alpina’s variation on the theme, the new B8? Character. The Alpina is a very fast cruiser, the BMW a four-plus-one-seater sports coupe.
At 2175kg, the B8 weighs as much as the B7 limo, which explains why the Gran Coupe feels less chuckable, overtly dynamic and sporty than the G30 5-series-based B5. For better or worse, everything about this car feels solid and beefy.
The centre console is too wide, the steering wheel too fat-rimmed, the bodykit too busy, the high-tech approach too intense. Unlike the B3 and B5, B8 has outgrown the age of playfulness. Its main purpose is to deliver, not to entertain. And deliver it does. Speed seems to be limitless. Power oversteer? Not even in ESP Sport. Understeer?
Pass. Traction issues? Far from it. Even on track, falling apart completely is not an option. The B8’s powerplant is an evolution of the N63 unit installed in the 2022 BMW M850i xDrive G16. Alpina developed a bespoke cooling system for the engine and the charge air apparatus, cleared out the larger-diameter exhaust, reprogrammed the black box and opted for a bigger oil cooler.
The result is a 90bhp boost to 613bhp on tap at 5500rpm. The faster-shifting eight-speed auto is beefed up and is now connected to the active rear diff by a strengthened driveshaft. Other updates are Eibach springs and recalibrated dampers, the additional Comfort Plus suspension setting, stiffer mounting points all round, special Pirelli P Zeros and wider, larger-diameter 21in multi-spoke wheels. All-wheel drive and rear-wheel steering are standard; the RWD-only mode available in the M8 is absent in the B8. It has an explosive 70-125mph acceleration time of 8.2sec. It’s 0.2sec slower to 62mph than the M8, but has 37lb ft more torque, which makes a noticeable mid-tempo difference and defines the B8’s appeal.
On the autobahn, the bulk and mass and momentum are frightfully easily compensated by giving the 4.4-litre V8 stick, but in a more cramped topographic environment velocity is cut down to size by the laws of physics. It’s almost too brilliant for its own good.
First verdict Fabulous. But in its quest for all-round supremacy, the Alpina virtues of agility and entertainment don’t always shine through 5/5
THE FIRST HOUR
- 1 minute Spot the subtle differences: bespoke bumpers, wheels, tailpipes
- 17 minutes Seats with integrated headrests are a nuisance when you must wear a helmet
- 22 minutes From Comfort Plus to Sport Plus – what a journey!
- 44 minutes Rear three-quarter visibility is poor
- 58 minutes Autonomous driving stands no chance so long as cars like the B8 are street-legal
+PLUS Formidably rapid Cruiser
— MINUS Always effective but not always fun
- PRICE £134,950
- POWERTRAIN 4395cc 32v biturbo V8, eight-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
- MAX POWER 613bhp @ 5500rpm,
- MAX POWER 590lb ft @ 2000rpm,
- 3.4sec 0-62mph,
- MAX SPEED 201mph
- WEIGHT 2175kg
- ON SALE Now
- EFFICIENCY 25.4mpg, 254g/km CO2
More at ease on autobahn and track than tight roads