2016 BMW Alpina B6 xDrive Gran Coupe
German-based car manufacturer Alpina has been making fast Bimmers since the 60s. It takes some of the best that BMW can offer and turns out performance-oriented, tuned-up vehicles laden with go-faster parts and extra luxury. Ctizens of the U.S., however, have had few opportunities for ownership.
It appears as though that’s gradually starting to change. The B6 xDrive Gran Coupe is Alpina’s take on the 6 Series Gran Coupe, BMW’s four-door styled as a two-door. This AWD rocket was first seen on American soil last year at the 2014 New York Auto Show, joining the 7 Series-based B7 for Alpina’s two American offerings.
Designated as an exclusive, special-order, limited-production vehicle, the B6 costs a small fortune, but comes with new features and exterior distinctions, not to mention a healthy amount of extra power.
It’s an alternative to an M car, with everything you’d expect from BMW, plus a little more. But is it worth the price?
Click past the jump to read more about the 2016 BMW Alpina B6 xDrive Gran Coupe.
2016 BMW Alpina B6 xDrive Gran Coupe
Horsepower @ RPM:600 @ 6000
Torque @ RPM:590 @ 3500
0-60 time:3.6 sec.
Top Speed:200 mph
Let’s be honest – one of the most important features of a hot-rod BMW is the way it looks. With so many examples of humdrum base models prowling the roads, standing out from the crowd is paramount.
With that in mind, Alpina didn’t skimp on styling. Combining style improvements with performance aerodynamics, the result is a distinctive look and reduced drag. An Alpina is supposed to be special, and the new B6 definitely is that.
Starting in the front, we find a new integrated front splitter for high-speed stability, plus a new front spoiler. The spoiler has been designed to promote airflow to the cooling systems situated behind the front bumper, including the intercooler, water cooler and oil cooler.
The trademark BMW kidney grille has been tweaked slightly, surrounded by the reworked front apron. NACA-style, low-drag air ducts are fitted at the front of the underbody to provide a steady stream of cool air to the enlarged brake package hiding behind the staggered 20-inch Alpina Classic wheels. The hood is also an Alpina-exlusive piece, with aggressive ripples and lines that complement the altered aero below it.
Added to the list of standard equipment are adaptive LED headlamps, which come with High Beam Assistant to keep your high-powered lights from blinding oncoming traffic. As a final touch, Alpina adds a B6 model designator to the B-pillar, plus twin elliptical tailpipes to the rear.
The 6 Series comes from the factory with an impressive cabin. High-end materials like Nappa leather upholstery adorn the comfortable power seats and instrument panel. Aplina retains these features in addition to the BMW Navigation system and BMW’s ConnectedDrive services suite.
However, the B6 boasts plenty of Alpina-exclusive features that you won’t get on the standard unit. The instrumentation is now in blue rather than red, and the doorsills have also received a blue illumination treatment. The steering wheel has been upgraded with hand-stitched Lavalina leather. The wood trim is available in either Myrtle or Piano lacquer, while a variety of Alpina badges sit proudly throughout.
The B6 may look good and come with some interesting interior features, but without a doubt, the most stimulating aspect of this car is what makes it go.
The 4.4-liter, bi-turbo V-8 engine from the 650i Gran Coupe has received a number of upgrades. In stock guise, this powerplant produces 445 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque.
However, after a few weeks with Alpina, this V-8 now delivers (preliminary) figures of 600 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 590 pound-feet of torque between 3,500 rpm and 4,500 rpm. That’s a 60-horsepower boost over the 2015 B6, and combined with the reworked xDrive AWD system, this car can hit 60 mph in 3.6 seconds, making it the fastest-accelerating model Alpina has ever created. Keep your foot down, and it’ll hit an electronically limited top speed of 200 mph.
Alpina used two specially designed turbochargers operating in parallel to help increase the V-8’s output, with total boost coming in at 17.4 psi. New MAHLE pistons are stuffed into the cylinders to help the engine cope with the increased temperatures and pressure, with a compression ratio of 10.0:1.
The intercooler system has been upgraded as well. Upgraded intake ducting, an optimized air filter housing, and high-rate fuel system account for that 60 horsepower bump.
As more of a novelty than performance upgrade, Alpina uses valves in the exhaust to allow the driver control over decibel levels for the engine note. Set to Comfort, the valve closes up to 2,500 rpm. Set to Sport Mode, the valve remains open.
Alpina also had its way with the eight-speed Sport Automatic transmission. Working in conjunction with ZF, the new Switch-Tronic eight-speed has been reprogrammed with multiple driving modes to get the most from that turbo V-8 engine.
Cruising is best with Automatic mode, for max smoothness and efficiency. Gear changes are adjusted to lower engine rpm. Sport mode quickens cog swaps, offering the ability to downshift multiple gears in milliseconds. Finally, there’s Manual mode, which gives the driver full control over the gears through buttons mounted to the inside of the steering wheel. If desired, this mode allows for the cancelation of automatic upshifts, keeping the engine at higher rpms as long as necessary.
Set to Sport, this upgraded transmission has lightening-quick gear changes enabled by software modifications and something called single-cylinder fade-out, which momentarily cuts fuel injection to a single cylinder between shifts. The result is less strain on the transmission and faster gear changes under load.
Alpina also reprogrammed the torque distribution control system, which works with the Dynamic Stability Control and engine management software to optimize traction under lateral acceleration, no matter the road conditions.
|Type||4.4 liter V8 Bi-Turbo V-8 engine|
|Output||600 HP @ 6,000 RPM|
|Torque||590 LB-FT @ 3,500 RPM|
|0 – 60 mph||3.6 seconds|
|Top speed||200 mph (electronically limited)|
Suspension and Brakes
They say power without control is nothing, so to harness those 600 horses, Alpina got busy reworking the suspension and brakes to match the increased engine potency.
Alpina’s sport suspension package fully integrates with the BMW Dynamic Damper Control system, which means adjustable, adaptive shock absorbers and active roll control combining with variable throttle response, steering assistance, and the xDrive variable torque distribution for neutral handling characteristics. Of course, drivers can control these settings from the cockpit via the Driving Dynamics Control rocker switch.
The brakes for the 2016 B6 are larger than the year prior, with 14.7-inch rotors in the front and 14.6-inch rotors in the rear, up from the 13.6-inch rotors on the 2015 model. The calipers are painted blue with Alpina lettering in the front.
The 20-inch staggered Alpina Classic wheels are set with increased wheel camber, and come wrapped in Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires that enable the B6 to reach that 200 mph top speed. Rubber dimensions come in at 255/35 in the front and 295/30 in the back.
All-season tires are available as an option. However, choosing these lower-rated tire drops the electronic speed limiter to a mere 130 mph.
The Alpina B6 is only available via special order. No prices have been announced as of this writing (2/11/15), but considering the 2015 model was tagged for $118,225, I expect something very similar for 2016. Just for comparison’s sake, the 560-horsepower M6 Gran Coupe has an MSRP of $116,650. Alpina will begin taking orders in March, with deliveries expected in June.
Audi RS 7
This four-door coupe from Audi has an updated front bumper, LED running lamps and taillights. The RS 7 looks bold and distinct, even among Audis.
The interior seats four comfortably, with quilted leather upholstery, sporty RS seats, and the latest in premium infotainment. The engine is a slight downgrade compared to the B6, with a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8 that develops 560 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. Routing this through an eight-speed tiptronic gearbox and Audi’s iconic quattro AWD system, the RS7 can hit 60 mph in 3.9 seconds and reach a top speed of 190 mph.
For $105,000, the RS7 seems like a good deal next to the B6. It looks good, is nicely equipped, and it’s almost as fast. But as soon as you pull up next to a B6, it’ll be obvious why you should have dropped the extra $13K.
Mercedes CLS 63 AMG 4MATIC
No competition here would be complete without the appearance of at least one Mercedes. The current model sports a biturbo 5.5-liter V-8 that pumps out 585 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque. Putting that power to the wheels is a new 9G-Tronic nine-speed gearbox, which allows this Merc to hit 60 mph in 3.6 seconds and cruise to an electronically limited 155 mph top speed. Cut that electronic nannie loose, and expect a similar top end as the RS 7.
Inside, high-grade leather covers AMG sport seats, which offer big bolsters and sumptuous elegance. The new three-spoke steering wheel incorporates aluminum paddle shifters, while an eight-inch infotainment screen resides in the dash.
Starting at $99,500, the CLS 63 AMG is (relatively speaking) an affordable continuation of the four-door coupe trend that Mercedes first championed, one now copied by each of Mercedes’ competitors. However, that price jumps substantially with options.
The B6 starts as a factory-spec 6 Series rolling out from the plant in Dingolfing, Germany. From there, it’s sent straight to the Alpina team in Buchloe for two weeks of parts fitting, all applied by hand.
For only a few grand over the M6, the Alpina B6 is unquestionably the way to go. It looks better and goes faster. It’s not often you can find a unique offering straight from the German factory – all too often, BMWs are lost in the crowd, sloshing about in a sea of model numbers and trim designations.
The B6 is different. It’s a car with presence, and unlike the majority of "special editions" out there, it’s got the cajones to back it up. $120K is a lot of money, but what you get is worth it: speed, style, comfort, technology, and most of all, distinction.