TEST DRIVE: 2021 ALPINA B8 Gran Coupe – The Elegant, Stylish and Crazy Fast Tourer

2021 ALPINA B8 Gran Coupe goes from 100 km/h (62 mph) in 3.4 seconds

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Just last month, the 2021 ALPINA B8 Gran Coupe showed its face to the automotive world offering everything you will expect from the car manufacturer situated in the little town of Buchloe in Bavaria. The Germans, lead by the extremely charismatic CEO, Andreas Bovensiepen, created a BMW 8 Series Gran Coupe with their highest levels of performance, dynamics and comfort in an understated and beautiful design.

Extremely exclusive, the B8 Gran Coupe is all what you expect from a V8-powered luxury grand tourer, and more. The day takes us to the Austrian Salzburgring track and the lovely, swooping country roads near the city of Salzburg. Oh and be aware before you ask, the B8 is not a competitor to the lineup of BMW 8 Series Gran Coupes, such as the M850i and M8, it is a unique proposition, which is more the subtler alternative to Garching’s M8 and more powerful refined alternative to Munich’s M850i.

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Stunning Looks

A Refined Luxury Vehicle

The recipe is filed with ingredients that offer greater power, luxury, comfort, improved cooling and the feeling of driving something special. Let’s start with the engine. Under the bonnet, we find the twin-turbo, 4.4-liter V8 engine, which is used in many BMW models.

The engineers at ALPINA decided to up the power to a stunning 621 hp and a monstrous torque level of 800 Nm, which is available from 2,000 rpm. The immediate torque delivery low in the rev-band is a standard ingredient within ALPINA cars. You could say it is written on the foreheads of any ALPINA engine wizard.

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For those who would like to know, the 2021 ALPINA B8 Gran Coupe goes from 100 km/h (62 mph) in 3.4 seconds. The top speed is set at 324 km/h (201 mph). In comparison, the M8 Gran Coupe does the same sprint in 3,2 seconds and has a top speed of only 305 km/h if you opt for the M Drivers Package.

The M850i hits 100 km/h in 3,9 seconds and only has a top speed of 250 km/h. If we look beyond the BMW batch, then it is interesting to note that no competitor is able to reach a higher top speed than the B8. The Panamera Turbo S follows the B8 at a limited 315 km/h. With regards to the sprint times, the Porsche is three milliseconds faster.

Better Cooling And New ECU Map

To offer the driver the performance at any given moment, the Bavarians fitted an impressive cooling package. You will find one extra oil cooler which is 120% bigger than stock, two replacement intercoolers, with a 45% improved cooling surface, an improved 1000W cooling fan and new water-air intercoolers which are 50% bigger as well. These offer you the enhanced performance under any circumstances, while also having ALPINA’s signature throttle and engine response plus smooth power delivery.

To bring all the improved performance to the street, the ZF 8-speed gearbox receives both hardware and software upgrades. It is strengthened and has an aluminum transmission oil sump. The gear changes are improved to 100 ms, the gearbox is optimized for multiple immediate downshifts and there is an improved launch control. An interesting detail is that you now have a gear indicator in all driving modes! Not something BMW offers in their cars.

TEST DRIVE: 2021 ALPINA B8 Gran Coupe – The Elegant, Stylish and Crazy Fast Tourer
Ultimate Luxury

ALPINA hasn’t stop here and continued their spree of upgrades. The BMW xDrive four-wheel system was set up to handle more torque on the rear axle thanks to a reinforced cardan shaft. The xDrive system is connected to 21-inch ALPINA Classic wheels featuring 20 minimalistic spokes, which are 1 inch bigger than BMW runs on their cars.

The choice allowed the engineers to have a higher tire side wall, higher load index and lower tire pressures, which increased comfort and sportiness. The increased tire size also benefitted the new cooling system. At the front, the new radiator proved to be a lot bigger. Accompanied by a new front splitter, the ground clearance was too limited while riding on 20 inch. The increase in wheel size saved the day and offered the required road clearance.

The Typical ALPINA Suspension

On the suspension side of things, ALPINA decided to alter the dampers, while enhancing the software calibration. New springs, rods, arms and stiffening parts were also part of the improved set up. All of these deliver the unique ALPINA character where you can choose for either Comfort Plus on one end of the spectrum or Sport Plus on the other. It is a unique proposition of long-distance ride comfort, combined with precise handling characteristics, on tap when you need it.

TEST DRIVE: 2021 ALPINA B8 Gran Coupe – The Elegant, Stylish and Crazy Fast Tourer
Can easily handle the track

The brake package is coming from the B5 and B7, and offers the exact same set up. You can opt for two kits. The standard brake kit has four-piston fixed brake calipers from Brembo, with 395 mm diameter brake discs on the front axle and floating brake calipers with 398 mm diameter brake discs on the rear axle. ALPINA’s high-performance brake system has two-part compound brake discs and high-temperature resistant brake pads. They save one kilogram per disc over the standard kit and offer a better pedal feel, and more immediate brake performance.

Subtle Exterior Upgrades

For those who are aware of what an ALPINA is, there is not much new with regards to the exterior. The Bavarians have opted for the same recipe as with any other ALPINA. The standard 8-Series Gran Coupe silhouette has been enhanced with a new ALPINA front apron including signature floating logo.

At the rear, you will spot the rear apron with its black diffuser insert and signature four chrome tailpipes from the newly developed stainless steel exhaust system. An ALPINA rear spoiler lip and signature decal pack finishes off the exterior looks. For those who want to go under the radar, the signature pack and badges on the rear can be let off the car. You can also choose  individual colors with ALPINA Blue and Green being exclusive available for ALPINA customers.

A Beauty On The Inside

TEST DRIVE: 2021 ALPINA B8 Gran Coupe – The Elegant, Stylish and Crazy Fast Tourer
Typical ALPINA Upgrades

Take a step inside and you will notice the different details which we saw on other ALPINA cars as well. First of all, you will notice the steering wheel dressed in Lavalina leather and dual color stitch, and the ALPINA look on the drivers dashboard display behind it. Other details are the emblems on the floor mats, logos on the illuminated door sills, model plague sharing the B8’s production number and the iDrive controller in crystal glass with an ALPINA logo.

An interesting point to note is that ALPINA offers upgraded interiors alongside their extensive list of standard equipment. You get standard BMW Driving Assistant Professional, Harman Kardon surround sound, multi-functional sport seats, seat and steering wheel heating as well as BMW Individual extended Merino leather upholstery and a leather-covered instrument panel. However if you want – and you don’t live in the US – you can opt for a full new interior reupholstered in Lavalina leather. All done by ALPINA’s in-house leather workshop.

One Of The Fastest Gran Tourers

Which leads us on the final point of my initial look at the new ALPINA B8, which are my driving impressions. The B8 Gran Coupe is everything you hope for in an ALPINA. It is the ultimate combination of luxury and performance, but with a different recipe than in a BMW.

ALPINA vehicles are unique in that regards and the B8 offers the same just in more abundance. The immediate power delivery on the road makes the B8 nippy and rewarding to drive. It is not a small car, but due to the power on tap, you are able to catapult away in sheer fashion. The handling and active rear wheel steering enhance the feeling of being in control of the car at any given moment.

On track, the story changes slightly and the weight comes into play. The 2200 kgs of B8 loves straights, but isn’t as interested in corners as any of its smaller siblings. The four-wheel steer was immediate and direct in the chicane at the end of the start straight on the Salzburgring, but on the second straight up the hill, you feel the impact and therefore less natural feeling due to the rear wheel steering making decisions for you that are not immediately of interest on a race track.

Still you should ask yourself the question how many B8s would ever hit a race track. Personally I think hardly any which lets you understand the choices made by the rear wheel steer. There are way more natural on the Autobahn.

TEST DRIVE: 2021 ALPINA B8 Gran Coupe – The Elegant, Stylish and Crazy Fast Tourer
Fast anywhere it goes

All in all, the B8 impressed me and showed what it is really capable of. It isn’t the ultimate all-rounder like a B3, but an up-market choice for those that don’t require the M8 hoonigan, and are looking for something more unique and special as a daily driver than the M850i.

Personally if I would have to choose, I would opt for a B8 Gran Coupe any day of the week. It offers a wider spectrum of driving abilities, is more usable on a daily basis, looks understated and a lot better on those 21 inch Classic wheels than any other 8 Series family member.

Add to this that you won’t take a massive hit on your residual value like with the M8 or M850i and you have a winning formula based on BMW’s Gran Coupe flavor. Oh and don’t forget the B8 is also extremely limited. They will only make a few hundred per year.

If there was one wish from my end, then it would be the dream of seeing a B8 two-door coupe and maybe even a B8 convertible. That would be a really interesting prospect.

2021 ALPINA B8 Gran Coupe

Exterior Appeal - 9.5
Interior Quality - 9.5
Steering Feedback - 9
Performance - 9.5
Handling - 9
BMWness/Ultimate Driving Machine - 9
Price Point - 8

9.1

All in all, the B8 impressed me and showed what it is really capable of. It isn’t the ultimate all-rounder like a B3, but an up-market choice for those that don’t require the M8 hoonigan, and are looking for something more unique and special as a daily driver than the M850i.