2015 BMW Alpina B6

Factory customized four-door luxury grand tourer.

  • Likes
  • Interior quality
  • acceleration
  • engine sound
  • handling
  • Dislikes
  • Weight
  • fuel economy
  • visibility

Specialty tuners at Alpina work over nearly every aspect of the BMW 640i Gran Coupe and make it, well, grander. From the bespoke heraldic badges to the myrtle wood trim to the highly tuned 4.4-liter turbocharged V8, the Alpina B6 is a unique mix of modern performance and traditional craftsmanship. Alpina, a tiny company based in Bavaria which began out of a former typewriter factory, tuned BMWs for racing success in the 60s and 70s, then withdrew from racing in 1988 and dedicated itself to building specialized, limited production luxury vehicles based on BMW cars. Since Alpina's production is fully integrated into the BMW line, they can offer cars like the B6 Gran Coupe, which offers a full warranty and can be found at BMW dealers in the US. Snobs needn't fear though; the B6 is still a limited edition product. Only 200 or so B6 Gran Coupes will be sold this year, making it as exclusive as a Porsche 918 Spyder in America.

Yes, the B6 has a 540-horsepower turbocharged V8 and can reach an ungoverned 198 mph on the Autobahn. Yes, it can do 0-60 in 3.7 seconds. But what's most striking about the Alpina B6 Gran Coupe is the attention to detail evident throughout the car. It's a feature not found on any spec sheet, and one that's too-often absent in even the most expensive mass-produced cars today. The Alpina's 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8, for example, is hand-made in a separate factory before joining the rest of the 6 series' assembly line in Dingolfing, Bavaria. The beautiful 20-spoke wheels are unique, as is the car's myrtle wood interior and suede headliner. Alpina also adds their own programming to the transmission and drive mode functions, allowing even faster shifts.

In comfort mode, the B6 Gran Coupe is plush and limo-like, able to get up to highway speeds in museum quiet. In sport mode and when accelerating hard, the twin-turbo V8 lets you know it's there with a classic-car burble from the exhaust pipes after each shift. It's a sporty but still refined sound. With 540 lb-ft of torque, thrust is decisive and there when you need it. The brakes are strong, though we wonder if fade would be an issue given the B6's weight. Handling is surprisingly sporty; the Gran Coupe responds quickly to its helm and takes corners with minimal body roll.

Our reservations with the Alpina B6 are all carryovers from the 640i Gran Coupe. Because of the car's long, low-slung shape, sight lines are mediocre, especially for shorter drivers. We think that driving a luxury car should include the luxury of being able to see where you're going and to occasionally make U-turns, but apparently premium automakers disagree, as so many of the costliest models seem to be above such plebeian concerns as visibility and turning radius. Our Space Gray Metallic B6 Gran Coupe was a blast to drive on open roads, but was far less enjoyable on narrow, crowded city streets, where passing between cars was sometimes a dicey proposition. Navigating residential lanes and parking lots in the B6 could be a Fitzcarraldo-like proposition, like trying to steer a yacht up a mountain stream. In several situations we found ourselves stuck in our 540-horsepower sedan having to wait for traffic where proletarians in narrow-waisted Ford Fiestas could easily scoot past. We also averaged only 12.1 MPG, in part due to those urban errands.

Overall though, the Alpina B6 Gran Coupe is a beautifully finished luxury car that is actually fun to drive, provided you have enough open road.

Warranty/Service: 4-year/50,000 mile new vehicle warranty, 4-year/ unlimited mile roadside assistance, 12-year/unlimited mile rust perforation

Visit the BMW website

Specs

Base Price: $117,300

As Tested: $117,300

  • 16 / 24 mpg
  • EPA
  • 3.7 sec
  • 0-60
  • 540 hp
  • Horsepower
  • 198 mph
  • Top Speed
  • Engine: 4.4-liter turbocharged V8 with direct injection
  • Horsepower: 540 hp
  • Torque: 540
  • Transmission: 8-speed automatic
  • Curb Weight: 4,475 lbs
  • Wheelbase: 116.9 in
  • Length: 197.1 in
  • Width: 74.6 in
  • Height: 55 in
  • Brakes: 4-wheel vented disc with ABS
  • Suspension: Fully independet
  • Traction: dynamic stability control and traction control, can be fully turned off
  • 0-60 mph: 3.7 sec
  • Top Speed: 198 mph
  • EPA City: 16 mpg
  • EPA Highway: 24 mpg
  • Combined MPG: 19 mpg
  • Seating Capacity: 4
  • Safety: BMW active protection including driver, passenger, and front side airbags

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