Used 2015 BMW ALPINA B6 Gran Coupe Review

Edmunds expert review

The BMW Alpina B6 Gran Coupe is a fusion of upgraded performance and styling enhancement for the 6 Series Gran Coupe that gives exclusivity beyond that offered even by BMW's own M models. The Alpina B6 is the BMW connoisseur's BMW. Just be prepared to pay for having such refined automotive tastes.




What's new for 2015

The 2015 BMW Alpina B6 Gran Coupe is an all-new addition to the BMW lineup.

Vehicle overview

BMW already makes its share of fairly exclusive cars, but the 2015 BMW Alpina B6 Gran Coupe is among the rarest of the rare. This elite version of BMW's four-door personal luxury coupe has been modified by Alpina, a German company with a longstanding reputation for its performance tuning and hand-crafted interior and exterior modifications of production-line BMW models.

For some, the appeal of the 2015 BMW Alpina B6 will have everything to do with the reality that it's going to be an uncommon sight on American roads. Anyone who drives one will automatically be a member of the inner circle of Bimmer fanatics. As usual, Alpina's exterior changes are discreet and unassuming; those who aren't in the know might never guess the Alpina B6 represents the top of the BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe lineup. The sedan-with-a-coupe-profile styling of the Gran Coupe is sleek from the start, and Alpina has revised the bodywork around and below the grille and the rear bumper while specifying quad tailpipes and special 20-inch alloy wheels. And there are two special exterior colors exclusive to the 2015 BMW Alpina B6: Alpina Blue and Alpina Green.

It's in the performance of the 2015 BMW Alpina B6 where the upgrades are more noticeable. Engine performance is yanked up from the already stout 445 horsepower available from the 650i Gran Coupe's 4.4-liter V8 to a thumping 540 hp for the Alpina B6, and a special exhaust system is tuned to make special sounds. This is actually 20 fewer horsepower than the ever so slightly less expensive M6 Gran Coupe, but Alpina's tuning work has resulted in a bit more peak torque, which now crests at 540 pound-feet. And because the B6 is all-wheel drive (instead of rear-drive like the M6), all that thrust gets to the ground that much more efficiently.

BMW is well-regarded for its suspension-tuning acumen, but the B6 Gran Coupe's suspension calibration demonstrates why Alpina has achieved such renown in Germany: This car is capable of carving up some truly challenging roads, yet it still offers an amazingly comfortable ride in normal driving. If we had to choose between the B6 Gran Coupe and the M6 version, we'd give the edge to Alpina in this department.

As with the exterior, Alpina takes a light touch with the Alpina B6's interior enrichments, adding treats such as a steering wheel with special, highly supple leather and unique wood trim. But if that's not enough, you can avail yourself of a wide range of interior personalization options from BMW's Individual program.

Although the Alpina B6 is a compelling proposition for any BMW aficionado, when you're shopping in this price range, there's a wide variety of interesting cars to consider. The most obvious alternative of course is BMW's own M6 Gran Coupe, which offers flashier styling details and similar performance capabilities. To our eyes, though, the 560-hp Audi RS 7 (based on the shapely A7) is the most attractive of the high-performance four-door coupes, plus it's a wickedly quick car (3.4 seconds to 60 mph in our testing) and it feels fast every time you get behind the wheel. Meanwhile, Mercedes-Benz started the coupe-sedan design movement, and its CLS63 AMG S-Model is no slouch in the acceleration department either. On the higher end, you should look at the Porsche Panamera Turbo and Turbo S, which are arguably the best-handling cars of this group.

In the end, though, none of these potential rivals really replicates the tantalizing scarcity of the 2015 BMW Alpina B6 Gran Coupe. If that's your priority, the B6 is the one to get.




Trim levels & features

The 2015 BMW Alpina B6 Gran Coupe is a performance-oriented version of BMW's 6 Series Gran Coupe, a four-door sedan with coupelike styling. There is a single trim level that comes with a 4.4-liter turbocharged V8, eight-speed automatic transmission and BMW's xDrive all-wheel-drive system.

Standard equipment for the 2015 Alpina B6 includes 20-inch wheels with summer performance tires, an adaptive sport-tuned suspension, adaptive bi-xenon headlights, automatic wipers, front and rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, power-folding and auto-dimming side mirrors, keyless ignition and entry, adaptive cruise control, a sunroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated 14-way power "multicontour" seats (with four-way lumbar support, adjustable side bolsters and memory settings), leather upholstery, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and a split-folding rear seat. Electronic features include Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a navigation system, real-time traffic, voice controls, the iDrive electronics interface with an integrated touchpad on the controller, voice controls and smartphone app integration, and a Harman Kardon 16-speaker sound system with a CD player, HD and satellite radio, a USB/iPod interface and an auxiliary audio jack.

There are two option packages for the Alpina B6. The Executive package incorporates adaptive LED headlights, a head-up display, ventilated front seats with active bolsters, a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, a power rear sunshade, manual rear window shades and ceramic-trimmed controls.

The Driver Assistance Plus package features front side and top-view cameras, speed-limit information and BMW's "Active Driving Assistant," which bundles a blind-spot warning system, a frontal collision warning system with low-speed collision prevention (with pedestrian detection) and a lane-departure warning system.

There are several choices of extra-cost leather upholstery and wood trim, and B6's simulated suede headliner can be matched to the upholstery color. Notable stand-alone options for the 2015 BMW Alpina B6 include the Active Driving Assistant, a night-vision system with pedestrian detection and a premium Bang & Olufsen sound system. All-season tires are a no-cost option.



Performance & mpg

The 2015 BMW Alpina B6 is powered by a 4.4-liter turbocharged V8 engine that develops 540 hp and 540 lb-ft of torque. An eight speed automatic transmission with Alpina's own software sends power to all four wheels through BMW's xDrive all-wheel-drive system.

BMW says the Alpina B6 will accelerate from zero to 60 mph in a markedly quick 3.7 seconds. Top speed is a claimed 198 mph with the standard summer tires (130 mph if all-season tires are equipped).

The Environmental Protection Agency rates fuel economy for the Alpina B6 at a combined 19 mpg (16 city/24 highway).

Safety

The 2015 Alpina B6's list of standard safety equipment includes antilock brakes with advanced standby and drying features, traction and stability control, front-seat side airbags, front knee airbags and active front head restraints. Also standard are front and rear parking sensors, a rearview camera and the BMW Assist emergency communications system, which provides automatic crash notification, remote unlocking, stolen-vehicle recovery and on-demand roadside assistance.

The optional Driver Assistance Plus package features front-side and top-view cameras, speed-limit information and BMW's "Active Driving Assistant," which bundles a blind-spot warning system a frontal-collision warning and mitigation system with pedestrian detection, and a lane-departure warning system.

Driving

Any time you're piloting a vehicle with an engine that generates in excess of 500 hp, it's going to be interesting. But the empowering 540 hp streaming from under the 2015 Alpina B6 Gran Coupe's long hood might only be the second-best aspect of this car's driving performance – the first being the exquisite balance of the B6's suspension.

More aggressive suspension damping is a key ingredient in the Alpina B6 Gran Coupe's magnificent cornering grip, but happily, this doesn't come at the expense of ride comfort. Some of the credit may go to Alpina engineers' relative restraint in using just 20-inch wheels, but the excellent ride characteristics can mostly be attributed to the careful calibration of the B6's standard adaptive damping system. And because it's driver-adjustable, if you encounter particularly rugged roads, you're able to dial up a softer setting to improve comfort.

Interior

lpina ensures that one of the first things you touch when entering the B6 – the steering wheel – looks and feels unique, with a special leather covering that's a delight to touch. The back side of the wheel also includes buttons for manually shifting the automatic transmission.

The steering wheel, special door sill plates and wood trim, elegant gauge faces with the Alpina logo and a dash plaque indicating a production number are the primary changes from the standard 6 Series Gran Coupe interior. It's also clear that since the B6 is primarily a made-to-order car, BMW expects many buyers to dig into the catalog of personalization options.

The Alpina's driver-focused design essentially mirrors that of BMW's standard Gran Coupe models, which is to say it's great for front-seat occupants and acceptable for passengers. Almost every interior surface is trimmed with top-quality materials. The standard leather choices are luxurious, with even more sumptuous leathers as an extra-cost option. The ceramic controls that come with the optional Executive package are magnificently dense, and the standard multicontour front seats make it nearly impossible to not find a coddling adjustment. The front seats are set somewhat low, perhaps to reinforce the notion of driving a coupe.

Although the Alpina B6's rear seats are at least usable for adults, the backseat nonetheless is more confining than in BMW's 5 Series sedan on which the Alpina B6 is based. Blame the low roof line and narrow-opening rear doors for the tight feeling.

The 2015 Alpina B6 uses BMW's improved iDrive control interface that manages entertainment, navigation and phone functions, as well as various vehicle settings. The iDrive control knob is larger and now incorporates a touchpad by which you can draw letters and numerals with your finger on the controller's surface. There's a lot of functionality here, but you'll want to devote time to study the various features before you hit the road, because in general, it takes a few more clicks and whirls of the iDrive controller dial to get what you want compared with the interfaces in competitors. Apart from the new possibilities from the touchpad interface, the system is notable for its sharp graphics, fast processing times and logical menu structure.

With just 13.0 cubic feet of trunk capacity (unless you fold the rear seat), the Alpina B6 is best viewed as a traveling tool for two. The trunk lift-over is rather high, so hoisting heavy bags into it can be a pain.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.