Vital Stats

Engine:
Twin-Turbo 4.4L V8
Power:
540 HP / 540 LB-FT
Transmission:
8-Speed Auto
0-60 Time:
3.7 Seconds
Top Speed:
198 MPH
Drivetrain:
All-Wheel Drive
Curb Weight:
4,780 LBS
Seating:
2+2
Cargo:
44.7 CU-FT (max)
MPG:
16 City / 24 HWY
Base Price:
$118,225
Alpina has been lovingly modifying BMWs for half a century, but as we learned during a tour of the company's HQ in Buchloe, Germany, Alpina has been in the wine distribution business for nearly as long. The company has an estimated million bottles on reserve in two warehouses and a beautiful wine cellar/tasting room on property in western Bavaria, just yards from where its 1,500 hand-crafted automobiles per year are produced.

What does that have to do with the new B6 Gran Coupe? Well, it may help make sense of the overall character of Alpina's automobiles, especially vis-à-vis the similarly priced, similarly powerful M Cars that BMW sells in far greater numbers. Alpinas are built by wine connoisseurs for wine connoisseurs, or wine connoisseur types; they are not rip-snortin' racecars for the road – that's M's domain. Alpinas are esoteric, rich in character and nuanced. But make no mistake: they are very, very fast.

Our brief first drive of the B6 Gran Coupe – the only 6 Series-based Alpina we'll get in the US for 2015 – took place on German autobahns and Austrian alpine roads, where the car is more at home than anywhere in the world, both literally and figuratively. With 540 horsepower and 540 pound-feet of torque on tap from its twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 and xDrive all-wheel drive, the B6 is said to be able to hit 60 miles per hour in 3.7 seconds on its way to a top speed of 198 mph, a massive 43 mph faster than the M6, which is electronically limited to 155 mph. Yet even at insane speeds – we saw an indicated 190 mph on one particularly lonely stretch of Autobahn – the B6 feels more luxurious than sporty, taking the countenance of a low-slung Bentley Continental GT or an Aston Martin Rapide S, not a knife-edged supercar. It doesn't feel scintillating like a Porsche 911 GT2; rather it feels rock steady, like the 4,780-pound luxury sedan it is.

The B6 has a handcrafted feel that makes the M6 feel robotic by comparison. Alpina hand-sews the leather-wrapped steering wheel with its trademark green and blue stitching and installs its own button-style manual shifters on the posts. America-bound versions uses top-shelf leathers from BMW for the seats and dash/door trim, but the blue-faced gauges and rich Myrtle wood with a gold inlaid crest are Alpina-isms that make for a particularly sumptuous, Maserati-like cabin. On the outside, the front and rear fascias, quad exhaust tips, rear lip spoiler, and of course, those gorgeous 20-inch, 21-spoke turbine style wheels make a style statement that is sportier than stock, but still for grown-ups.

It all comes together in a thoroughly integrated way, not like some aftermarket tuner shop that pieces its mods together in a less harmonious fashion. Like a fine wine, the Alpina favors complex and satisfying flavors rather than overt boldness.

Driving Notes
  • The 6 Series Gran Coupe is already a pretty car, but the Alpina is absolutely gorgeous in the metal, especially in Alpina Green and Alpina Blue, two colors you can't get on workaday 6 Series models. The turbine-spoke Alpina Classic wheels are oh-so-pretty, and the body mods are tasteful. The M6 Gran Coupe looks almost crass by comparison.
  • The richly appointed interior feels more expensive than the boy-racer M6. Gratefully, no carbon fiber BS in here; just lustrous, reddish wood, stitched leather, Alcantara headliner and black chrome accents. It's too bad we don't get the super-posh Alpina upholstery offered in other markets. Still, the space just reeks of class.
  • The heated and cooled front seats are splendid and adjust in roughly six zillion ways; the outboard rear seats are beautifully sculpted and very comfortable, so long as you're not taller than six feet.
  • As with other Sixers, the dashboard is tall, the ceiling low, and the windows small-ish, creating a far more intimate ambience than in the more upright, 7 Series-based B7 in spite of the two models using the same materials. Claustrophobes will be thankful for the big moonroof, even if it only tilts.
  • With 540 hp, the engine is strong, of course. Yet, this mill is calmer in character than the rowdy M6. The exhaust note is muted even in Sport mode, though make no mistake: you can give your passengers headrest concussions if you stomp on the go-pedal without warning them first.
  • Alpina's recalibration of the drive control settings allow for super-soft Comfort and Comfort+ modes that should make mother-in-laws happy and keep sleeping babies from waking up. Sport and Sport+ settings can occasionally serve up jarring shifts, but the response times are quick, and there's even some delightful crackling on overrun. Shift buttons can be hard to locate with some steering angle dialed in. Alpina claims to have invented the shift-for-yourself buttons for its automatic transmissions before Porsche came up with Tiptronic, but we still prefer paddles.
  • Steering remains light even in Sport and Sport+ modes. This is by design; Alpina does not want its owners to have to arm-wrestle the car when they feel like getting frisky.
  • Astonishingly, the B6 keeps accelerating hard even as the needle sweeps past 175 mph; at one point we see an indicated 192 mph, though we're told by Alpina that the speedo can be a few mph on the optimistic side. Still, this thing is faaaaaaast. And stable, too, with almost no sense of lift even at these ridiculous, M6-shaming speeds.
  • Wind noise at triple digit speeds is remarkably low, considering it has frameless windows.
  • Huge brakes are strong and fade-resistant, even after slowing from 150+ mph multiple times for merging traffic on the Autobahn.
  • The B6 Gran Coupe is undeniably heavy, and the light steering hardly tickles your fingertips despite being hydraulic. There is plenty of grip served up by the super-wide tires, but still, this is no track car.
The Alpina B6 is expensive, but it also feels expensive. At the end of the day, with its rarity, capability and character, the $118,225 base price of this car seems easier to justify than most other BMWs, especially with the standard 650i xDrive topping $100k without much effort. We'll take ours in blue.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 32 Comments
      Andy
      • 7 Months Ago
      Wow. That color is perfect. Still a huge fan of the signature blue, but green totally works too.
      Anthony
      • 7 Months Ago
      They forgot to add the word "sedan" after coupe.
      sforza209
      • 7 Months Ago
      Man those wheels! I swear I have tried to like them, I really really tried! But, I just can't seem to do it :(
        ravenosa
        • 7 Months Ago
        @sforza209
        They look really, really cheap. If I didn't know what an Alpina BMW was, I'd assume this thing was a Pep Boys-mobile from the other side of the tracks...
          fordskydog
          • 7 Months Ago
          @ravenosa
          See, nobody does know what an Alpina is, at least here in the states. I work with a kid who BOUGHT one and still didn't know what he had. That is probably part of the appeal for the prospective Alpina owner. Not many people know what it is and it's quite rare. But those people who do know are sure to be impressed.
        Winnie Jenkems
        • 7 Months Ago
        @sforza209
        I love the wheels
      CarCrazy24
      • 7 Months Ago
      Beautiful car, love the color. Alpina always nails their design improvements to normal BMWs.
      S40Powered
      • 7 Months Ago
      Alpina models..,just like a work of art.
      knightrider_6
      • 7 Months Ago
      I'm sure it drives well, but why is the design stuck in 90s?
        mbukukanyau
        • 7 Months Ago
        @knightrider_6
        you dare say a holy cow down not produce good milk? Did you not get the German engineering gospel memo?
      mbukukanyau
      • 7 Months Ago
      So BMW dumped the 155 MPH limit? Well, I know the leather in this thing is up to snuff, but, can it take down a ZL1 on a track?
        telm12345
        • 7 Months Ago
        @mbukukanyau
        So you didn't really read this article, huh? This car is about refinement and luxury. Everything the ZL1 isn't. Also, look up grand tourer while you're at it.
        fordskydog
        • 7 Months Ago
        @mbukukanyau
        1) This is not a BMW. It is an Alpina. Alpina is to BMW as Saleen is to Ford. The title says Alpina, not BMW. Alpina changes all kinds of stuff, including the ECU tuning and the top speed limiter. 2) Can you take three friends on a long weekend vacation in a ZL1? Asking if a two-ton plus four door all wheel drive GT car can take down the top Vette on a track is like asking if a pickup truck can tow more than a big rig tractor.
      pickles
      • 7 Months Ago
      Whenever I see this body style (rarely) I can't help but think two things: Mercury Sable from the fish-mouth-grille era AND hire Bangle back. Vision is lacking at BMW.
      tbird57w
      • 7 Months Ago
      $118.000.........nah
      Ryan Schneider
      • 7 Months Ago
      "Yet even at insane speeds – we saw an indicated 190 mph on one particularly lonely stretch of Autobahn." Question for the AB journos: Why risk it? I know it's the autobahn and therefore extremely hard to resist the urge to bury that needle, but is is worth the possibility of what could happen if just one thing happens to go wrong at those speeds? Sorry to sound like Buzz Killington, but I'd hate to see something tragic grace the AB as a result of a test drive that goes awry.....
        fordskydog
        • 7 Months Ago
        @Ryan Schneider
        But you see, obtaining a license in Germany actually requires an education in driving and the rules of the road. The autobahn is safer than you driving down to the grocery store here in the states. So I ask you, why risk it? I have had the pleasure of driving in Germany. And I do mean pleasure. 5 days on the road, NOT A SINGLE CELL PHONE TALKER! You see, the Germans for the most part give a **** about driving and the rules, which after all are there so you can reasonably predict what other drivers will do. Lane discipline is a thing there. Make a pass on the left, then get back right to open up that passing lane. Ignore other tasks while driving, look far down the road not just at the bumper in front of you, etc etc etc. It is safer at 190 on the Autobhan than at 45 on any given US freeway. And yet I bet you still do it.
      fordskydog
      • 7 Months Ago
      A sports coupe, with four doors, AWD, and weighing 2 tons... Sooooooo, NOT a sports coupe... The contradictions have always bothered me with the new 6.
      mix35
      • 7 Months Ago
      Saw the car at the NY autoshow. Absolutely stunning. Actually got to sit in the B6 Grand Coupe. The craftsman ship of the interior is unbelieveable. The Alpina is for getting up early on a weekend, throw a few things in a nice bag and just head out with no particular destination. The M6 grand coupe is for getting up early and heading to the track. Alpina is with the exception of their track cars is about grand touring and enjoying long drives. The M6 is about burning rubber. Which by the way, both are fun. For me if I could afford it. The Alpina in signature blue with that beautiful vanilla interior they do so well.
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