What is it?
Sorry to labour the 2030 point (a date that is only going to get mentioned ever more frequently) and not to give the game away in the first paragraph, but we’re going to miss cars like this in nine year’s time. While accepting that something needs to be done around climate change, it’s a pity it will curb machines like the Alpina B8 Gran Coupé.
Because something with this car’s duality of purpose, blending GT-long legs with back-road excitement and a healthy dollop of character, is not anything that comes along all that often. Maybe future electric cars will deliver it, but most are a bit too 1D point-and-squirt at the moment.
Alpina, of course, has a rich history here. We’ve long been fans of the way the BMW tuner breathes on Munich’s finest so it’s with some interest that the latest lands on our doorstep. Following in the footsteps of the legendary B12 Coupé, based on BMW’s 850 CSi, and the more recent B6, the B8 Gran Coupé brings to 10 the total number of Alpina’s now offered.
In this instance, there are the usual visual and mechanical tweaks to the 850i ‘base’ car. Let’s start with the most important - the bi-turbo V8. Nestled extremely snugly under the bonnet is BMW’s 4.4-litre twin-scroll turbo’d petrol. Whereas the standard car gets 523bhp and 553lb ft, Alpina’s wizards have pushed the B8 to 613bhp and 590lb ft, the latter from a usefully low 2000rpm.
This was achieved by improving the cooling. While the exterior size of the intercoolers remains the same, the B8 has specific internals, leading to a 50% increase in cooling capacity compared to its BMW sibling.
It translates to a car that will sprint from 0-62mph in 3.4 seconds, half a second up on the BMW equivalent but 0.1 down on the Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door. But then the Alpina gets its own back in the top speed stakes, with a claimed 201mph, comfortably ahead of rivals’ limits.
Underneath, the B8 runs an all-wheel drive system based on BMW’s xDrive set-up, but with tweaks to the torque distribution to make it more rear-biased. There’s also an Alpina-specific reinforced propshaft while suspension alterations run to Bilstein dampers and Eibach springs. The car also gets an Alpina stainless steel sports exhaust.
Alpina has also rung the visual changes. There’s subtle ‘Alpina’ lettering on the chin spoiler, plus the usual smattering of Alpina badges. This car comes on the optional Alpina Classic 21-inch forged wheels finished in black - they save four kilos a corner, but I’d stick to the standard forged Classics in silver (still 21s), especially as it saves you £1340.
The paint you see here is unique to Alpina and comes in at a punchy £3175. Not cheap, but probably needed: if you’re going to get something as rare as an B8, you might as well give it the special paint as well. The other option is Alpina’s glorious Green metallic.
Inside, it’s a largely BMW affair, albeit with Alpina badging smattered throughout, including a plaque between the front two seats telling you what number car you bought. Ours was 009 - two off a presumably more exclusive number.