2022 BMW Alpina B8 Gran Coupe Review: An Even Grander Tourer

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On paper, there’s not much measurable difference: The B8 and the M8 are in the same ballpark as far as price and horsepower are concerned. However, the Alpina’s nature is fairly different — from the more laid-back way it delivers its over 600 horsepower to its more comfort-focused ride. The B8 is aimed squarely at 8 Series shoppers who don’t want anything to do with a race track, but have the desire (and budget) to seek the best that this platform has to offer.

Grand Touring style

The B8 distinguishes itself from the standard 8 Series with a unique front bumper that has large “ALPINA” lettering along the chin spoiler. The enlarged front aerodynamic bits look sharp but also — along with a ride height that’s been increased by 0.6 inches — make room for more cooling components. More on that momentarily.

Large 21-inch forged wheels are standard, filling the arches with Pirelli P-Zero performance rubber. Also screaming for attention from behind Alpina’s iconic 20-spoke wheels are 15.7-inch front brakes with four-piston bright blue Brembo calipers, all the better to bring this 4,831-pound sport sedan to a stop on a dime.

The rear has an Alpina-specific bumper with a large diffuser that integrates the stainless steel exhaust’s quad tips. These pipes make the B8 sound more aggressive than the standard M850i when set to its Sport mode, but without the snap, crackle and pop that you get from an angry M8. Alpina and B8 badges replace the OEM BMW hardware, while a small lip spoiler finishes off the sedan’s ducktail decklid.

The B8’s 21-inch wheels and massive brakes are a stunning combo.

Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

Interior luxury upgrades

The Gran Coupe is available in two exclusive metallic hues — Alpina blue and Alpina green, the brand’s signature colors — though you can also select from a wider palette of BMW Individual paints. Opening any of the four doors reveals illuminated sills, as well as Alpina branding on the floor mats. 

The B8’s steering wheel is trimmed in Lavalina leather with dual-color stitching in blue and green. On the back side you’ll find Alpina’s weird shift buttons, which are easy to reach when you need them but aren’t as easy to slap during spirited driving.

Elsewhere in the world, buyers can choose a full Lavalina leather cabin to match the steering wheel, but US-bound examples lack that option. But this test car’s BMW Individual Cognac Full Merino leather upholstery (a $2,000 upgrade) doesn’t feel like a downgrade to my unsophisticated rear end.

The center console is home to a plaque that once again heralds that the BMW Alpina B8 is not an average 8 Series, but it’s overshadowed by the brilliant crystal shifter’s laser-etched “8” graphic. Building on that, the highlight of this cabin is a mirrored crystal infotainment controller with the Alpina crest at its center. BMW’s iDrive never looked this good.

Alpina’s crest is etched into the B8’s crystal iDrive controller.

Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

iDrive 7.0 tech

Speaking of iDrive, aside from adding blue and green themes to the ambient illumination and infotainment software, Alpina hasn’t touched the 8 Series’ cabin tech. It’s rocking the seventh-generation of BMW’s infotainment suite, with a 10.3-inch main touchscreen and the automaker’s 12.3-inch Live Cockpit Professional digital instrument cluster.

I prefer the standard dark BMW aesthetic to the blue/green Alpina tint, but the iDrive software is as good as ever with sharp graphics, logical organization and responsive performance when flicking through the menus. iDrive’s combination of touchscreen, physical controls, voice commands and gesture inputs can be overwhelming at first, but the flexibility to interact with the software however you’d is worth the extra hump on the learning curve. 

This example features a $3,400 Bowers & Wilkins premium audio upgrade. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, on the other hand, are standard features, and can connect either via USB or wirelessly. 

There also aren’t any surprises when it comes to driver aid tech. Automatic emergency braking is standard, but this example has a $1,700 Driver Assistance Pro package that adds Extended Traffic Jam Assistant, BMW’s partially hands-free steering system that works in stop-and-go conditions up to 40 mph. This test car also has a $100 Driving Assistance package (what an odd price) that upgrades the standard rear camera to a surround-view system and adds blind-spot monitoring, parking assist and the Drive Recorder DVR — a sort of 360-degree dash cam that can record incidents while driving or parked.

Alpina’s 612-hp take on BMW’s 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 nearly matches the M8’s output.

Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

Performance

Of course, the main reason the BMW Alpina B8 xDrive Gran Coupe costs $40,000 more than a standard M850i is the extra power. Additional cooling capacity, including a 50% larger water-to-air intercooler, allows Alpina to boost BMW’s 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8’s output to 612 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque — gains of 89 hp and 37 lb-ft, respectively. Happily, this added oomph doesn’t affect the M850i Gran Coupe’s 17 mpg city, 24 mpg highway or 19 mpg combined Environmental Protection Agency fuel economy estimates.

The engine is mated to BMW’s xDrive all-wheel-drive system via an eight-speed automatic transmission, which is retuned for Alpina duty to deliver smoother transitions between its revised ratios. Overall, the B8’s powertrain aims for effortless Autobahn cruising and refinement rather than neck-snapping BMW M urgency, but this Gran Coupe still has enough hustle in it to sprint from 0 to 60 mph in 3.3 seconds. (The M8 Competition Gran Coupe does the same job in 3 seconds flat.)

The B8’s ride is also tuned for comfort, soaking up bumps and freeway expansion joint undulations with aplomb while retaining a good deal of suppleness even in the sportiest of its three drive modes. The street-focused B8 also comes standard with rear-wheel steering, which boosts stability during high-speed lane changes and reduces the turning radius at parking lot speeds — a feature that’s not available on the M8.

The B8 Gran Coupe’s closest competition comes from within the 8 Series lineup.

Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

Price and competition

The Alpina B8 is an extremely expensive set of wheels but, as a low-volume luxury product meant to compete with uber-expensive rides, what do you expect? This 2022 BMW Alpina B8 xDrive Gran Coupe starts at $140,895 including destination charges. As tested, with a complement of driver aid and luxury upgrades, you’re looking at $148,095. For context, that’s $9,000 more than a BMW M8 Competition Gran Coupe. 

The B8’s position as an M8 alternative also places it in a similar competitive set, rivaling the Audi RS7 and Mercedes-AMG GT63 4-door. Both are less expensive, but also short on horsepower. I’d also have a long look at the Porsche Panamera GTS as a competitor, too. 

Many small changes in the pursuit of more comfort-focused performance rather than Nürburgring-bred edge add up to a noticeable difference relative to the M8 on the road. That small distinction — along with, let’s be honest, the allure and perceived specialness of the Alpina brand — make the B8 worth a closer look for picky motorists who don’t mind paying extra to get something different in this six-figure price range. That said, the M850i continues to be the sweet spot in the 8 Series lineup with a ride that’s nearly as comfortable, more power than you probably need and all of the same tech at a lower price.



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