Mountain Wheels: BMW’s Alpina B6 takes luxury and turns up the volume
2015 BMW Alpina B6 xDrive Gran Coupe
MSRP: $117,300; as tested, $126,050
Powertrain: 540-HP twin-turbo 4.4-liter V-8 engine, 8-speed automatic transmission, all-wheel drive
EPA mpg figures: 19 combined; 16 city, 24 highway
Iconoclastics impressed by intense German automotive precision sometimes find themselves bogged down by the tragically run-of-the-mill, everyone’s-got-one nature of the upper-end BMW 6-series family.
You know, that terrible sense of dread experienced by the select few who already own the $93,000 650i xDrive Gran Coupe when they see someone else in the same car.
For many years, European show-offs who can’t get by with a standard-issue BMW have been able to get a variety of reimagined BMW products crafted by Alpina, an independent company that takes already stunning vehicles and makes them just a little more intense.
Anyone who’s salivated over the prospects of getting involved with the very specialized Alpina brand and its flourish of aesthetic treats can now do so with a brand-new model: the 2015 Alpina B6, a 540-horsepower four-door monster that’s sleek, ridiculously distinctive and imbued with the xDrive all-wheel-drive system. Making it a perfect vehicle for extremely high-speed ski-trip outings. Trust me, you will likely never see another Alpina B6 at a local ski parking lot, ever.
The B6 starts its life as a 6-Series Gran Coupe, an already impressive, low-roofed automobile whose own variants begin at about $80,000. The Alpina folks then start mixing the metaphors, including their own electronic sport suspension system, a 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V-8 engine and the xDrive system. There’s also a specialized exhaust system that’s high output, but not tuned to sound like a race car. Subtle, indeed.
The car gets its own set of iconic 20-inch Alpina Classic wheels and some flashy badging on the very prominent but functional lower front diffuser lip (as well as its own rear diffuser and spoiler), plus a series of interior mods including leather everything, blue and green stitching on the steering wheel and some special Alpina emblems high up on an entirely Alcantara-trimmed headliner. All for a base sticker of $117,300.
The looks (and maybe the price) may strike some doubters as a mod job gone mad — and, yes, those wheels are a little over the top, I must admit — but the mechanics underneath are all still pure venomous and explosively rigid BMW, meaning that this big beast can completely take care of business.
Acceleration comes on like a particle accelerator, with just the teensiest smidgen of turbo lag before those rear tires start to crawl sideways from all of the brute force. The Adaptive Drive and the Alpina-specific software (plus the specialized sport suspension) can be nudged from standard to sporty to downright crazily sport-plus — enacting razor-sharp shifts, a more rigid ride and a much more focused experience — should you need to bump everything up a couple of notches on the road. Steering is not light at all; in this circumstance, that seems appropriate.
The eight-speed transmission is, however, as smooth as they come; if you’re unimpressed by the car’s own electronic choices, you can slap the Norelco razor-styled gear shifter around, or use some small but efficient shift control pressure-pad buttons on the rear of the chunky steering wheel to make your own gear choices, on the fly.
In the front cabin, specialized Alpina gauges, ultra-perforated leather seating and a leather-covered console arch with white highlight stitching all add a lot of wow factor. The iDrive entertainment and navigation system is better than ever, and now features a touchpad on top of the controller. The ConnectedDrive functionality allows even more concierge services from the comfort of one very comfortable car.
Rear passengers also get privacy shades for limo mode, or may just simply enjoy the extra rear glass for unencumbered views.
For a truly one-of-a-kind experience, you can take part in a program to pick the car up from the factory in Munich and drive it to the shipping dock, or you can grab it fresh off the boat in South Carolina and drive it home yourself. Or both. Why not?
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