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2015 Alpina B6 xDrive Gran Coupe First Review

By Allyson Harwood on May 23, 2014 2:06 PM
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The 6 Series Gran Coupe is in a class that has gotten hot in the past few years: the 4-door coupe. Buyers are willing to sacrifice some rear-seat head and legroom in exchange for coupe-inspired styling. While BMW has had its 6 Series Gran Coupe for the last couple of years, legendary tuner Alpina has just introduced its version: the B6 xDrive Gran Coupe. Formerly an aftermarket BMW tuner turned official supplier, Alpina builds high performance road cars so different that they carry their own VIN numbers.

The B6 is powered by a hand-built 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8, which puts out 540 horsepower and 540 lb-ft of torque, eclipsing the power output of the 6 Series Gran Coupe line, and 20 horsepower shy of the BMW factory-built M6 Gran Coupe. Controlling all that power is a more robust version of the ZF 8-speed automatic transmission used in the 6 Series. According to Alpina, 0-60 acceleration takes 3.7 seconds, which is remarkably quick considering the car weighs about 4,600 pounds, 350 pounds more than the M6. The B6 also uses start/stop technology to improve fuel economy to 16 mpg in the city, 24 on the highway. (The M6 has fuel economy of 15/22.) These aren't record-setting numbers, but considering the power this car has to offer, they aren't bad.

Big power, massive brakes

Alpina made significant changes to the engine, touching everything from the turbochargers to the cooling system, and the results could be felt immediately. Power comes on in a wave that's strong, smooth and effortless. The car doesn't snap your neck back as you accelerate, but it feels like the company's 3.7-second time is fairly accurate. The B6 wastes no time getting to speed. We drove this car in Germany, on roads where the speed limits are higher than in the U.S., making it easier to evaluate the vehicle at higher speeds. The B6's power comes on with confidence and authority, and in Comfort mode, shifts are quick yet subtle and well timed. Those shifts, as well as power delivery, change when you put the B6 into Sport mode, where the subtlety disappears and it becomes more high-performance car and less comfort cruiser. At those speeds, it is just as crucial to have brakes that work well, as things change quickly on these roads, and the Alpina's 18-inch brakes are very good, responding smoothly but firmly to driver input.

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The Alpina version of the 6 Series is not a pure performance car like the M6. Instead, the B6 offers a comfortable ride, a unique interior and a nicer driving experience on the open highway. While the M6 is biased more toward handling and tight turns, the B6 is a car you could enjoy for long stretches of time, eating up miles on the Interstate. We drove it for nearly 300 miles, with no fatigue. Compared with the M6, the spring settings are different, as are the shocks, the end result being the M6's ride is much stiffer than that of the B6.

Bespoke interior, limited volume

The interior uses black and beige leather, and Alpina has added its own touches to the cabin, including the use of Myrtle wood accents with the Alpina logo on the dash, plus green and blue stitching on the steering wheel. The seats are supportive and comfortable, helping make the miles fly by while driving the car. The B6 comes in several colors, but there are two notable exclusive paint colors, Alpina Blue and Alpina Green, the green making its debut in the U.S. on this car. Other styling differences include the 20-spoke Alpina wheels, rear spoiler and 4-tip exhaust.  

The B6 is a limited-production vehicle, and there will likely be only 300-400 sold in the United States. But there is a definite market for it, for people who want something that combines M6-like acceleration and confidence with a more comfortable ride and an extra dollop of luxury. These are the same people that may consider buying cars like the Audi RS7 or Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG. The B6 we drove was $125,525 including destination; the M6 starts at about $116,000, the Audi RS 7 starting at about $106,000 and the Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG 4Matic carrying a base price of $100,425. Those who want a high-performance car that's more skewed toward handling and tight turns can always look to the M. But for those who want comfort, a powerful engine and a sumptuous interior, with the added exclusivity and performance that comes with the Alpina touch, the B6 can be yours for a little more money.

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