Famed BMW tuner directs its expertise at a sleek four-door to create its latest flagship

The four-door performance ‘coupé’ is not a modern phenomenon. Lagonda has historical form with the idea and concepts such as the Ferrari Pinin of 1980, which Enzo himself is said to have particularly liked, show that even the most storied marques have experimented.

However, the format has in recent times really taken off, with Porsche, Audi, Mercedes, Aston Martin, BMW, Volkswagen and even Hyundai (what, you forgot about the i30 N Fastback?) all trying their hands, albeit with varying degrees of success.

This car isn’t really aimed at the European market. It’s more for America, where it’ll sit alongside the XB7 in the range and ensure Alpina caters for those who want something very big and very luxurious

The Porsche Panamera has bolstered Porsche’s bottom line since its arrival in 2009, but other cars have struggled to find much volume. After all, these models ask a premium for their sleek design, for which they trade practicality relative to the less expensive saloon on which they are usually based. The rational choice they are not.

The subject of this week’s road test is no different. At almost £140,000, the new Alpina B8 Gran Coupé looks expensive next to the £93,000 B5 Bi-Turbo saloon with which it shares its 4.4-litre V8, much of its chassis and its fundamental suspension design. Sales figures in the UK will also be paltry, but we’re lavishing on it the full road test treatment because this is Alpina’s new flagship model and ought therefore to be nothing short of spectacular.

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Could it be the star of this rarefied breed? Alpina’s recent form has certainly been strong indeed, so let’s explore the 613bhp B8 Gran Coupé.

The B8 line-up at a glance

Alpina is limited by staff numbers and its ‘find the niche’ strategy when it comes to the breadth of the model line-up – and that’s how the company likes it. However, two-door coupé models do seem to be dropping off the marque’s to-do list of late, and we can’t help wondering if that’s because the performance of these cars has become uncomfortably close to that of their M division cousins.

It now seems there will be no B4 Coupé for this generation, only a Gran Coupé version, and the same is truefortheB8.SotheB8isaone- model line-up, although expect the mid-life refresh, still several years out, to yield a B8 S, with more power and some chassis upgrades.

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Alpina B8 Gran Coupe First drives