by Jake Lingeman
The Alpina B8 is another fantastic product from a company that isn't quite to BMW what AMG is to Mercedes. Alpina is its own company, noted as an official automaker by the German Federal Ministry of Transport, and has its own factory in Bavaria where it puts the finishing touches on some of the best, fastest, and most expensive BMWs.
The latest from the factory in Buchloe, Germany, is the 2022 Alpina B8 Gran Coupe, obviously based on the BMW 8 Series Gran Coupe. The Alpina gets its own engine tuning. This twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 makes 612 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque. That's fed through an Alpina-tuned eight-speed automatic to all four wheels.
The full-size Gran Coupe doesn't have many competitors at this price. However, the powerful Audi RS7 certainly qualifies and the Mercedes-AMG GT 4-door might be cross-shopped as well. Of course, shoppers in this segment will have to decide if the Alpina B8's slightly higher price is worth it compared to the M8 Competition Gran Coupe.
The 2022 BMW Alpina B8 Gran Coupe is the latest model from the famed German tuning house. While BMW's M department is in charge of making stupidly fast cars that are at home on the track, Alpina serves a different purpose. It also makes high-speed cars, but without the hardcore suspension updates and track bias.
Alpina is in the business of making grand touring cars, so the aim here is to make the BMW 8 Series even faster and more luxurious, tuning the V8 under the hood to make 612 hp and outfitting the cabin for the pinnacle of luxury.
Unique extras for the B8 include an Alpina exhaust system, bespoke styling enhancements, and Alpina-specific interior materials and gauges.
See trim levels and configurations:
|ALPINA B8 xDrive Gran Coupe||
4.4L Twin-Turbo V8 Gas
The Alpina B8 is quieter than the BMW M8, both in road and wind noise. The front axle struts feature hydro mounts, which soften the ride a little, as do the Eibach springs tuned for this application. However, it has stiffer suspension strut support mounts, which - when combined with the low-profile tires - make for a sportier ride than expected.
It's not harsh from the driver's seat, and those steam roller tires can cover most potholes without incident, but we'd like it to feel even more Buick-like, as that's what the exterior (and interior, for that matter) prepare you for. On the bright side, direction changes happen quickly and without much body roll. The rear-steering system is also excellent, allowing us to enter and exit small parking lots and spaces without having to three-point turn.
It has modes ranging from Comfort Plus to Sport Plus, with a few in between. We found the normal Comfort mode great for longer distances, and the power is still plentiful. Those tires and wheels, which look great, need to be swapped when temperatures drop below 40 degrees, as this car was a handful on frosty mornings with the Pirelli summer tires.
The Individual mode is always key. You can set your prime settings - for us it's full Sport Plus power and Comfort Plus suspension - and just jump back to it whenever the need strikes. You can adjust the effort of the steering too, but there's not a ton of road feel either way.
So the Alpina B8 is a lot pricier than the M850i xDrive Gran Coupe, which starts at $100k including destination. It's even $10,000 more than the M8 Competition version, but the Alpina is the better big Bimmer option hands down. On the highway, it's just as fast, maybe even faster at certain speeds, and the only thing it won't do is work a racetrack. But how many 8 Series drivers are actually taking it to weekend practice? Instead, most will enjoy the B8's plush cabin and smooth ride.
For over $20,000 less, the Audi RS7 is a tempting alternative and it's nearly as quick. However, it lacks the exclusivity afforded by the Alpina badge. Perhaps what's most impressive about the Alpina B8 is that it's an even nicer grand tourer than the regular 8 Series Gran Coupe, while being almost as quick as the M8 Gran Coupe. That's a recipe that's hard to resist.
The Audi RS7 is not quite as sharp and engaging as the M8 Gran Coupe. That's fine, however, as that makes it more of a rival to the Alpina B8 Gran Coupe. The Audi represents a massive saving at $118,500, though we can't see where Audi cut corners. Audis are renowned for their luxurious, high-quality interiors, and the same is valid here. The RS7 is down on power. It uses a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8 that produces 591 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque. Even so, it's only marginally slower to 60 mph. It takes 3.5 seconds versus the Alpina's 3.3 seconds which isn't a time difference you'd notice.
The Audi is just as stacked with standard features. You get quilted Valcona leather, quad-zone climate control, soft-close doors, and more. In short, there's nothing you get in the Alpina that you don't get in the Audi.
The only thing that counts in the Alpina's favor is exclusivity, but you have to wonder whether it's worth paying $21,400 more, just for that? We don't think so, which is why we'd have the Audi.
The M8 is around $10k less expensive, but it's a bit more of a hooligan. It has a stiffer ride, and you can engage 2WD, in which case you can smoke the rear tires all day long. It's faster to 60 mph than the B8, but not so much that you'd notice.
Our biggest problem with the large M cars is that they seem to suffer from an identity crisis. The M8 Gran Coupe has so many driving modes. In addition to that, the suspension is too stiff in Sport mode, and while the steering is satisfyingly heavy, it doesn't provide much feedback.
BMW's M department is at its best when it has one clear mission for a car. Just look at the M2 CS. It is, by far, the best M product of the last decade. To us, the 8 Series works so much better as a grand tourer, which is why we'd have the B8. Or save even more money and get the M850i.
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