BMW's M performance division builds some pretty amazing performance cars, but it's also about as big of a household name for go-fast German hardware as you can get. For a BMW that's a bit rarer or under the radar, check out the 2017 BMW Alpina B6 Gran Coupe.
If you were to poll your friends and coworkers, the chances that people would have heard of Alpina are slim. Alpina is long-term partner of BMW. Alpina's earlier success in racing and its subsequent move to producing performance-enhanced BMW models has garnered respect from BMW and earned them recognition as a manufacturer, not a tuner, of cars. The B6 Gran Coupe is one of two models you can buy here in the states.What separates the B6 Gran Coupe from the standard 6 Series and M6 are exterior styling differences, exclusive exterior paint options (including Alpina Blue and Alpina Green), Alpina-specific 20-spoke wheels, unique interior material treatments, upgrades to the engine and suspension and an Alpina-specific eight-speed automatic transmission.
For power, the Alpina B6 relies on a turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 that's similar to the BMW 650i and M6. However the Alpina-tuned power plant produces 600 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque, eclipsing the numbers of even the M6, at 560 hp and 500 lb-ft. Specifying an M6 with the optional Competition package upgrade closes that horsepower gap, but torque ratings still fall way below the B6. And putting all that power to the ground is much easier with the B6 thanks to standard all-wheel drive. It's an added benefit if you live in a cold weather climate, too.
The Alpina occupies similar territory to the M6 in terms of price, but its coupe-like sedan body calls out a few key players in the segment. Mercedes-Benz was the originator of the four-door luxury "coupe" movement, and the current Mercedes-AMG CLS63 S features a 577-horsepower engine and high-quality interior appointments. Then there's the visually stunning, 560-horsepower 2017 Audi RS 7, which sprints from zero to 60 mph a couple tenths quicker than the B6, with an option to upgrade to 605 horses. On the pricier end of the segment, the redesigned Porsche Panamera is one of the best-handling luxury sedans in any class.
Even among this talented pool of players, the Alpina holds its own. And if you want your luxury high-performance sport sedan to be a virtual one-of-a-kind, it could very well be the best pick here.
The 2017 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 a surround-view camera system, speed-limit information, blind-spot monitoring and BMW's "Active Driving Assistant," which bundles lane departure warning with frontal collision warning and mitigation and pedestrian detection.
trim levels & features
The 2017 BMW Alpina B6 Gran Coupe is offered in a single, well-equipped trim level with just a handful of additional packages and options.
Standard equipment includes 20-inch wheels with summer performance tires, Alpina-specific exterior styling details, an adaptive sport-tuned suspension, adaptive LED headlights with automatic high beam control, LED foglights, automatic wipers, front and rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, power-folding and auto-dimming heated side mirrors, and keyless ignition and entry.
Inside, you'll find quad-zone automatic climate control, heated 16-way power front seats (with four-way lumbar support and memory settings), leather upholstery, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, ambient lighting and a split-folding rear seat.
Electronics features include Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a navigation system, voice controls, the newest iDrive infotainment interface with a touchpad-equipped controller, wireless mobile phone charging (Qi standard), an onboard Wi-Fi hotspot, smartphone app integration and a Harman Kardon 16-speaker surround sound system with a CD player, HD and satellite radio, a USB port and an auxiliary audio jack.
There are two option packages for the Alpina B6. The Executive package adds 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 a surround-view camera system, speed-limit information, a blind-spot monitor and BMW's "Active Driving Assistant," which includes a frontal collision warning system with low-speed collision mitigation (with pedestrian detection) and a lane departure warning system. An adaptive cruise control system is optional with this package and not available on M6 models.
There are several choices of extra-cost leather upholstery and wood trim, and the B6's simulated suede headliner can be matched to the upholstery color. Notable stand-alone options for the 2017 BMW Alpina B6 include the Active Driving Assistant with adaptive cruise control, a night-vision system with pedestrian detection and a premium Bang & Olufsen sound system. All-season tires are a no-cost option.
The 2017 BMW Alpina B6 is powered by a turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 engine that develops 600 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque, the highest output of any 6 Series variant. An eight-speed automatic transmission with Alpina's own control software sends power to all four wheels through BMW's xDrive all-wheel-drive system. Fuel-saving automatic engine stop-start technology is standard.
BMW says the Alpina B6 will accelerate from zero to 60 mph in a markedly quick 3.6 seconds, which is a significant improvement over the M6 Gran Coupe's estimated time of 4.1 seconds.
EPA-estimated fuel economy of the Alpina B6 stands at 18 mpg combined (15 mpg city/24 mpg highway), which is 2 mpg better than the M6 with the seven-speed automated manual.
You know your commute is going to be interesting any time you're piloting a vehicle with an engine that generates this much power. The extra torque unearthed by Alpina's engine magicians, channeled through all four wheels, hurtles the B6 towards the horizon at a deceiving rate of speed. But even with 600 hp relentlessly streaming from under the Alpina's far-reaching hood, it's the exquisite balance of the B6's suspension that has us singing its praises.
The combination of active suspension damping and active roll stabilization are key ingredients in the Alpina B6's magnificent cornering grip. And happily, this doesn't come at the expense of ride comfort. Credit goes to Alpina engineers, that despite using 20-inch wheels and low-profile summer tires, were able to calibrate a suspension to provide excellent ride characteristics and competent handling. And because it's driver-adjustable, if you encounter particularly rugged roads, you're able to dial up a softer setting to improve comfort. Sure, due to the Alpina's size and weight it may not have been born to rule the twisty back roads, but as an all-around performer, it's stunningly able.
Almost every interior surface of the 2017 Alpina B6 is trimmed with top-quality materials. The standard leather choices are luxurious and feature contrast stitching, with even more sumptuous fine-grain leathers as an extra-cost option. 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. The steering wheel (wrapped in unique, highly supple leather) is an Alpina-badged version of BMW's standard multifunction wheel, with buttons in place of the usual shift paddles.
The best seat in the house is directly behind the steering wheel. The B6 is clearly driver-focused, which is to say it's great for front-seat occupants and acceptable for passengers. The standard multicontour front seats offer adjustments to the thigh support, side bolsters and upper back, making it easy to find the perfect seating position. The front seats are set relatively low, perhaps to reinforce the notion of driving a coupe. Although the Alpina B6's rear seats are usable for adults, the backseat is more confining than a traditional sedan like BMW's 5 Series, on which the Alpina B6 is based. The low roof line creates a pleasing silhouette but eats into precious headroom and rear door opening space.
The 2017 Alpina B6 uses BMW's latest iDrive control interface that manages entertainment, navigation and phone functions, as well as various vehicle settings. The system is notable for its large 10.2-inch display, sharp graphics, fast processing times and logical menu structure, but you'll want to devote time to study the various features before you hit the road. 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. Although the B6's iDrive doesn't have the 7 Series' touchscreen or trick gesture control, its control knob incorporates a touchpad by which you can draw letters and numerals with your finger on the controller's surface. The ceramic controls that come with the optional Executive package are magnificently dense and feel appropriately expensive.
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 on the high side, so hoisting heavy bags into it can be a pain.
edmunds expert review process
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