by John Tallodi
Alpina have been offering modified versions of standard BMW models since 1965, things have moved on from those early days of revising carburetors for the BMW 1500 and Alpina models are now sold and serviced by BMW agents and come with the same warranty and backup. The Alpina B6 xDrive Gran Coupe is their 6-series based offering and it combines M-car pace with a stronger focus on daily usability.
Other than a few minor design details and an Alpina badge in the center of the steering wheel the Alpina B6 offers the same classy and well-built interior as the rest of the 6-series range. It offers the latest iDrive infotainment system, comfortable front seats and a rear row that should fit most adults as long as they don’t mind a sloping rear screen that can restrict headroom. The trunk offers about average cargo carrying capacity for the class and, overall, the B6 Gran Coupe is a practical four-door luxury sedan.
Power outputs and price points are near on identical to BMW’s own M6 Gran Coupe, the main differences lie in the all-wheel drive system and conventional automatic transmission of the B6. The BMW M6 may offer a sharper driving experience at the very limits of grip and handling but for the other 95% of the time, the Alpina B6 provides more accessible performance and a smoother shifting transmission. The all-wheel drive system does add to the overall weight but it does allow for the power to be put down sooner than is possible in the M6. The suspension settings have been revised too to offer a softer ride in comfort mode and despite those huge 20-inch alloys, the B6 absorbs harsh road surfaces with minimal fuss.
The 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 under the hood of the B6 is not an M-derived unit but a modified Alpina engine. It produces an M6 Gran Coupe (when fitted with the Competition Package) equaling 600 horsepower and an even more impressive 590 lb-ft of torque. All-wheel drive is standard and a modified 8-speed automatic transmission is fitted. The 0-60 mph time is quoted at 3.7-seconds which not only beats the standard M6’s rear-wheel drive limited 4.1-second effort but is quicker than just about any other four-door luxury European sedan on sale. That massive torque output also makes for near instant overtaking acceleration and to top it all off its overall consumption figure of 25 mpg also betters the M6’s 22 mpg.
The Alpina B6 offers just about every conceivable luxury and convenience feature as standard fitment, some of the more notable items include unique Alpina 20-inch alloy wheels, adaptive suspension, power front seats, leather upholstery, 10-inch infotainment system, adaptive LED headlights and four-zone climate control. That massive standard specifications list can be bolstered with a range of available Packages. The Driving Assistance and Assistance Plus Packages offer a head-up display, speed limit info, active blind spot detection, active cruise control and frontal collision, lane departure and pedestrian warning systems. The Executive Package offers a heated steering wheel and heated rear seats, ceramic controls, active ventilated front seats and a power rear sunshade. Individually selectable options include a Bang & Olufsen audio system, active blind spot detection, night vision, and Apple CarPlay compatibility.
The Alpina B6 xDrive Gran Coupe formula may well be one that BMW adopts with their next generation M6. The extreme power levels of today’s luxury performance sedans make all-wheel drive a basic necessity and a conventional automatic transmission provides smoother progress more of the time. The lack of that sharp M-performance edge may be a disappointment to some, but at this level there are a lot of shoppers who may be more interested in the Alpina’s range of abilities.