It's BMW versus Alpina for highway-chomping four-doors.
Last week, we heard news of a special Alpina model coming soon, and now it has arrived. The Alpina B8 follows the traditional Alpina recipe: start with a non-M BMW, add horsepower, increase luxury, and enhance styling. That's what Alpina did with the M850i Gran Coupe, but is it really that much better?
Is it worth paying almost as much money as an M8 costs? Pricing for the B8 starts at $139,900, while the regular M850i starts at $108,900. For just a few grand more than the B8's asking price, you can spend $144,000 and get a proper M car, so is the B8 a waste of money? No. Allow us to explain.
For one thing, there's no doubt that the Alpina B8 Gran Coupe looks far less "in your face" than the M8, despite the latter car being one of BMW's best current designs. By contrast, the regular 8 Series GC looks great but a little generic. With the Alpina, you get bespoke 21-inch wheels made of forged aluminum, behind which hide Brembo brakes that hint at the increased performance. These make the car stand out without shouting about it, while classy finishes such as Alpina Blue Metallic and Green Metallic make the car look sleek and imposing without detracting from its elegant nature.
Finally, the cosmetic changes to the body itself are subtle. In the past, Alpinas have had a penchant for too many horizontal lines, but this one is minimalistic without looking shy, and those quad tips are simply gorgeous. In our book, the B8 looks better than the regular 8 Series GC.
As with the body, the changes here are subtle but meaningful. Dressed in the same Merino leather available on the M850i, the cabin looks exquisite. BMW did such a good job here that the only areas that were changed by Alpina were the iDrive controller, which now features the company's logo, and the steering wheel, which is now clad in aniline Lavalina leather. Oh, and there are now exquisite Walnut Anthracite interior trim accents. Alpina is likely to return to its old ways by offering floor mats with logos and the option of a few other accents, but we love the way the base model looks here. Along with a plaque in the center console, the B8 makes the cabin feel just a touch more special without looking gaudy.
Using the same 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 as found in the M850i (also the base in the M8), Alpina's B8 now produces an incredible 612 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque. That's a massive increase from the M850i's 523 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque, and it's damn close to the M8 Competition's 617 hp. With so much potential under your right foot, the B8 will do 0-60 mph in just 3.3 seconds. Peak torque is available from just 2,000 rpm too, so the B8 will be more fun to play with in low-speed scenarios. Sure, the M850i's figures of 3.7 seconds to 60 and a top speed of 155 are impressive, but the B8 outshines even the 190-mph M8 on top speed, with a maximum velocity of 201 mph. Supercar-beating performance in a finely tailored suit sounds like a winner to us.
So you've read all of the fawning over the Alpina B8 Gran Coupe, and hopefully, you understand why we're so excited by it. But at this point, it's worth remembering that the M8 and M850i Gran Coupes are both excellent cars in their own right. In fact, the M850i is so good that we'd have one over the M8. After all, you don't buy a big four-door sedan with more luxury and tech than you know what to do with if you're a loyalty cardholder at your nearest racetrack, so is the B8's extra performance unnecessary.
That may be true, but we'd have been more disappointed if it performed no better than regular BMW products. Ultimately, the B8 is just more elegant, classier, and better-dressed. The fact that this gorgeous suit hides a deadly assassin is just a bonus, and for the subtle but sharp styling, luxurious interior, and barnstorming speed of the B8, there's nothing we'd rather cross continents in.