BMW has its M division, which makes its most mental models like the M3 and forthcoming M4. It also has an intertwined but decidedly independent tuning partner called Alpina.
What started in the 1960s in a German man’s garage as a BMW carburetor modification has grown to a world-renowned BMW tuner. Although it’s a far cry from its original incarnation, Alpina’s latest model the B6 xDrive Gran Coupe has some distinguishing, signature characteristics.
At first glance, the B6 xDrive Gran Coupe might look unmodified. Look more closely, though, and a keen eye will notice the classic Alpina 20-inch, 21-spoke wheels and the functional front apron with integrated splitter.
From there, Alpina’s modification become, let’s say less subtle. The 4.4-liter ALPINA Bi-turbo V8 makes a whopping 540 horsepower and 540 pound-feet of torque. And, as always with Alpina, the riotous twin-turbo V8 is backed by an automatic transmission, an eight-speed Sport Automatic Transmission with ALPINA Switch-Tronic, to be precise. The eight-speed routes power to all four wheels through BMW’s xDrive intelligent all-wheel drive system. This power wallop and jumble of German engineering magic is good for a 0 to 60 time of 3.7 seconds and a top speed of 198 mph.
While drivers are hammering the hell out of the B6, they’ll barely notice roadway imperfections. The B6 features Electronic Damping Control and Active Roll Stabilization that, as BMW puts it, “enables agile and neutral driving dynamics that meet the highest demands for sportiness, comfort and all-weather traction.”
Stopping is almost as swift as the going, too. The B6 xDrive Gran Coupe includes 4.7-inch diameter front brake rotors and 13.6-inch diameter brake rotors in the rear.
On the inside, drivers will find LAVALINA– now my new favorite word – leather throughout and a hand-stitch steering wheel. “Door sill trims are highlighted with an illuminated ALPINA logo and exclusive ALPINA Myrtle wood or Piano Black trim finishes are available.”
If you’re looking for a German coupe saloon car that can both out accelerate supercars and roll like a Rolls-Royce, the B6 xDrive Gran Coupe is your best choice. I drove the last Alpina, the B7, on Laguna Seca a few years back, and let me tell you: even that big honker handled like a Lotus. So the more nimble B6 will be wunderbar.
Delightfully, the 2015 Alpina B6 xDrive Gran Coupe will be coming Stateside and is slated for unveil at the 2014 New York Auto Show next month. We’ll be on the floor in NYC so be sure to check back for some live floor coverage and photos of the latest, lovely Alpina in the flesh.