“Most things just aren’t that great,” my cynical best friend says. I don’t remember what we were talking about. We were sitting at a mediocre diner serving passable food on a day that was, for the most part, completely unremarkable. Though my friend’s nihilistic views aren’t necessarily something I share, the comment prompted lively conversation and propelled the rest of our day forward.
A different best friend and I agree that this is almost certainly the perspective of someone who hasn’t spent any time with an ALPINA automobile. But, after spending a week with the car and a few days of reflection, I have to say that I partially agree with my Nietzschean buddy. Most things, really, just aren’t as great as they seem. And even more of them get more tiresome with age, or worse, memory and hindsight. Happily, then, I have found the BMW ALPINA B8 Gran Coupe to be a rare exception.
What is a BMW ALPINA B8 Gran Coupe?
For those who don’t know, ALPINA specializes in making existing BMW vehicles even more special. In the case of the BMW ALPINA B8 Gran Coupe, that includes installing unique components in the suspension, engine, interior, and more. While an apparently pedestrian N63 twin-turbo V8 powers the vehicle, it puts out a hefty 612 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque. Torque is a focus for ALPINA vehicles; this one allows almost criminal response, with maximum torques from just 2,000 rpm.
BMW ALPINA B8 Gran Coupe
- Beautiful and timeless design
- Better ride quality than M8 or M850i
- Refined engine
- More expensive than an M8
Another hallmark of ALPINA design is understated looks. Avoiding the usual mess of wings, vents, and general ostentatiousness that accompanies modern M vehicles, the BMW ALPINA B8 Gran Coupe dons chrome grilles, sparse Shadowline trim, and little to immediately differentiate itself from any other 8 Series. Of course, as long as you ignore the chrome quad exhaust tips, 21-inch ALPINA 20-spoke wheels, and blue, ALPINA-emblazoned calipers.
Understated Looks, Underrated Power
BMW and ALPINA say that the BMW ALPINA B8 Gran Coupe produces just over 600 horsepower and nearly the same torque. Many people will attempt to explain to you that looking at the performance of the ALPINA is missing the point. It isn’t. The BMW ALPINA B8 Gran Coupe is fast. Not “fast for a non-M,” not “fast for an 8 Series,” just fast, full stop. Getting from cruising speed to criminal speed takes just a feather of the throttle, and accelerating from a stop light can be supercar fast if the driver wishes it so.
Just because the BMW ALPINA B8 Gran Coupe prioritizes a well-insulated cabin doesn’t mean the twin-turbo V8 under the hood is meek. While mostly silent in Comfort and Comfort+ modes, Sport and Sport+ bring a familiar roar to the cabin. It gives the more focused M8 a run for its money. The biggest mistake anyone could make is to claim that the BMW ALPINA B8 Gran Coupe is a “tamed” M8. There is little to suggest the two are anything less than siblings. That is, except in one critical area: ride quality.
The Most Comfortable Cruise Missile in the World
So, you already know the BMW ALPINA B8 Gran Coupe specializes in stealth speed. Despite feeling just as fast as the last M8 I drove from behind the wheel, it’s several orders of magnitude more comfortable. Even though it rides on Pirelli P Zero performance tires and 21-inch wheels, the BMW ALPINA B8 Gran Coupe seemed to float down the road.
Load up the car in the corners, and you can definitely feel the more comfort-tuned suspension reacting predictably. The vehicle is downright nimble and eminently parking-friendly, thanks to rear-wheel steering (pivoting the rear wheels up to 2.3 degrees left or right). There is no doubt in my mind that I’d rather live with the BMW ALPINA B8 Gran Coupe than the M8 Gran Coupe for a streetcar.
And from the cockpit, surrounded by supple leather and the usual BMW appointments like Extended Traffic Jam Assistant and Surround View Camera, a Bowers & Wilkins Surround Sound System, heated and ventilated seats, and everything else you can imagine, you might wonder aloud if this truly is the best Grand Touring vehicle ever built. I’m hard-pressed to find another.
In one week with the BMW ALPINA B8 Gran Coupe, I tackled dirt and gravel roads, torrential rain, potholes closely resembling meteorite impacts, bumper-to-bumper traffic, open highway cruising, and crowded street parking. So, a typical day in New Jersey. It never skipped a beat and did exactly what it was designed to do – insulate and inspire its pilot.
Verdict: BMW ALPINA B8 Gran Coupe
Okay, so, real quick: the car isn’t perfect. It’s expensive. It doesn’t offer the same level of theater as an M vehicle (I know, it’s not the point). It’s quite heavy, and you feel it when you drive the car. The vehicle features iDrive 7 and feels a little, well, vintage compared to newer stuff. These are nits I’ve picked and not anything that would sway me from suggesting the BMW ALPINA B8 Gran Coupe to a prospective buyer.
The BMW ALPINA B8 Gran Coupe is the connoisseur’s choice in a world dominated by fast fashion and ephemeral trends. It seamlessly marries timeless looks, a rich and appreciable cabin, and prodigious power. Low production numbers and exclusive pricing make it likely to be even more desirable as the years pass. Turns out, some things really are that great.