Not terribly long ago, I wrote an article about the underappreciated nature of the M8 Coupe. Today, I’m spending a week with the 2023 BMW ALPINA B8 Gran Coupe. And while that review is still in the works, a few short days was all it took for me to figure out that similar attention needed to be served to the B8. ALPINA has always been a bit misunderstood (or, worse, unknown) in America. It carries the same exclusive price tag as the better-known BMW M products but supposedly lacks the edge of one.
To bench racers adhering strictly to the numbers, the ALPINA vehicle ends up a bit confusing as a value proposition. ALPINA achieves a more refined ride and more luxurious details than M vehicles, adding around 600 pounds of weight and a completely unique personality that far removes it from the incendiary performance of the BMW M8. In a world dominated by online impressions and stat sheets only a Google query or Siri request away, it gets harder and harder for vehicles like the BMW ALPINA B8 Gran Coupe to justify their existence. But some things are best experienced in person. The BMW ALPINA B8 Gran Coupe is one of them. And it’s shockingly underappreciated.
Overwhelming and Underappreciated Luxury
It isn’t justice to the BMW ALPINA B8 Gran Coupe to just leave it at “more luxurious” than a normal 8 Series. Eibach springs and front axle struts with hydro mounts and adaptive dampers give the car a unique balance of responsive handling and a comfortable ride. The rear-wheel steering – a feature notably absent from the M8 – makes the ALPINA B8 Gran Coupe more well-equipped for day-to-day driving, facilitating easier u-turns and parking. It’s a necessity for the over 16-foot-long car. The ALPINA B8 Gran Coupe is much easier to live with for daily driving than any other 8 Series. I credit the revised suspension working in tandem with the rear steer, a limited-slip differential, active anti-roll bars, and all-wheel drive.
Fine Touches Inside
Inside, the BMW ALPINA B8 Gran Coupe continues to receive special touches that separate it from the M8. Unique “ALPINA” and “B8” front and rear side sills announce its exclusivity. ALPINA-specific instrumentation and green stitching on the steering wheel provide a cockpit that doesn’t feel like anything else in the lineup. Sure, it’s all similar to what you find in other BMWs – but the fine details, where it matters, are all unique. A plaque next to the shifter, ALPINA badges on the – incredibly sumptuous – floormats, and an ALPINA crest adorning the Swarovski crystal iDrive controller make the ALPINA B8 Gran Coupe stand out.
More importantly, these details add tangible value when behind the wheel. The M8 Competition Gran Coupe and ALPINA B8 Gran Coupe are separated by $10,500. That’s around a 7.5% price increase for a disproportionate jump in refinement and detail. Nestled in the cockpit of the supremely capable (more on that in a minute) and comfortable ALPINA, you might find yourself wondering why they didn’t charge more.
But…It’s Not as Fast as the M8, Is It?
Sure. Regarding performance, the ALPINA B8 Gran Coupe trails the comparable M8. Top speed is limited to a pathetic 201 mph, and Car and Driver says it’ll take nearly a lifetime to complete the 1320-foot dash – 11.2 seconds. The twin-turbo V8 under the hood only makes 612 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque. For those counting, that’s five fewer horses and 37 more torques than the M8. Wait a minute – more torque?
That’s right. The ALPINA B8 Gran Coupe makes more torque from its N63 engine than the M8 can muster from its S63. While slightly less-exotic sounding than its M counterpart, the unique ALPINA exhaust gives the ALPINA B8 Gran Coupe a familiar German growl that is still quite present, even in refined driving modes like Comfort+. It feels much like the V12-powered M760i from back in the day – effortlessly pulling you from zero to, well, anywhere you want, I guess. What’s the last thing on your mind when you’re burying the right pedal? “Yeah, but it’s fractionally slower than the M8.” It simply doesn’t matter in the ALPINA B8 Gran Coupe. It provides immediate – and profoundly smooth – power from anywhere in the rev range.
Passengers Can Appreciate It, Too
In the M8, there is really only one good seat in the house – the driver’s seat. Not the story in the 2023 BMW ALPINA B8 Gran Coupe. Friends loved the spacious backseat and didn’t mind riding in the passenger seat, either. The plush ride quality and smooth transmission shifting (courtesy of ALPINA-specific programming) allowed them to recreate in opulence. The usual cache of 8 Series luxury, like individual climate zones, heated/ventilated seats, and supple Merino leather upholstery made soaking the highway miles up an exciting and enjoyable experience for everyone – not just the driver.
It’s a shame that BMW ALPINA B8 Gran Coupe production is so limited. While I suppose that is some of the allure, its exceptional composure makes it a remarkable car in so many ways. If you have the chance – and especially if you’re considering a higher trim 8 Series – don’t make the mistake of overlooking the BMW ALPINA B8 Gran Coupe.