2022 BMW Alpina B8 Review: The B Stands for “Best”

“Why do you go all over the place?”

It’s the (translated) question many with Italian heritage are familiar with (and I’m sure we’re not alone). Why go to restaurants when you can eat at home?

The answer isn’t one of disrespect, or laziness. It’s about acknowledging the expertise of others. I could buy the nicest cut of Wagyu I can find, but my condo kitchen range isn’t going to do it any justice. I’ll defer to the pros, thanks.

Representing that gently-massaged culinary delicacy is this, the 2022 Alpina B8. A grand tourer sitting at the top of the 8 Series lineup, this ultra-rare four-door sure is pricey, too. It offers an experience all its own though, marrying effortless performance with a pampering, hand-finished interior for a masterclass in what a grand tourer should be.

What’s new?

First, given the amount of pinched faces whenever I told someone what the B8 was, some history. Alpina has been in the business of modifying BMWs for 60 years, when company founder Burkard Bovensiepen produced a Weber dual carb for the 1500. The company works closely with BMW, so closely in fact that the German government recognizes it as an automotive manufacturer of its own.

In the case of the new-for-2022 B8, the engine is hand-assembled at Alpina’s Buchloe-based headquarters, then shipped to BMW Dingolfing to join the rest of the car, which starts life as a G16-generation 8 Series Gran Coupé. Afterwards, it’s sent back to Alpina for finishing touches. No wonder they’re so rare.

And what an engine it is. A V8 displacing the same 4.4 liters as the one found in the M8 (and M5), it has an attitude all its own. The smarties in Buchloe have tweaked the setup to place a stronger emphasis on low-end torque, so the massive 590 pound-feet of twist arrives at just 2,000 rpm and sticks around until 5,000. The 612 horsepower peak is just 5 ponies short of the M8 Competition.

Performance is one thing—deeply impressive as it is, which we’ll get to later—but there are subtle styling tweaks that set the B8 apart from its more common platform mates. There’s the unique Alpina Green Metallic paint, a deep hue that switches from near-black in the shadows to a glowing jade in the sunlight. There’s an Alpina blue, too; buyers can order the B8 in the usual BMW shades as well, but I can’t understand why they would. Alpina’s iconic 20-spoke wheels sit at all four corners, measuring 21 inches across. A unique front bumper literally spells out what this is, while a cleaner, revised rear bumper tidily integrates the quartet of exhaust tips.

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Interior and comfort

Saddlery. It’s impossible to not visualize equestrian activities when eyes first fall on the B8 interior. This two-tone Merino leather is stunning, as soft as anything you’ll find at a designer boutique. The blue and green stitching is a great contrast, and nary a stitch is so much as misaligned. If I really wanted to pick nits, I’d ask for the wheel to match the interior.

SEE ALSO: 2020 BMW M8 Competition Gran Coupe Review: More to Love

Every single person I put in the B8 during the week was taken aback by the craftsmanship on display. I lost count of how many wows my mom uttered during a short weekend lunch trip. Even the thicker carpets are noticeable, a subtle nod to the lofty arena in which the Alpina plays. BMW aficionados will clock the unique typeface for the dials (chunky numbers FTW!), glowing sill plates, and Alpina badge on the steering wheel.

The front seats offer up a variety of adjustments, making them as comfortable as they are supportive. Space is generally good, though BMW has sacrificed some to achieve that dramatic exterior shape. Nowhere is that more apparent than in the rear, where the sloping roofline can make it a tight fit for those six-foot or taller. The B8 is also a strict four-seater instead of five, though my guess is that doesn’t bother the potential buyer much at all.

Technology and features

Every tech goodie you’d expect from a modern BMW is present and accounted for in the B8. The head-up display (HUD) offers up vital information right in the driver’s field of vision. iDrive is still a little menu-heavy, but it’s easy enough to flit through the menus via the rotary dial once familiar with the pathways. Making that process easier is a digital assistant, allowing the driver to “hey BMW” their way into adjusting the climate or radio controls, as well as other operations.

SEE ALSO: 2022 Porsche 911 GTS First Drive Review: Just Right

Gesture controls are hit or miss. On the plus side, the sensors are pretty darned accurate, so once you’ve got the motions down, it’s pretty quick. On the other hand, the use cases are still pretty limited, and seldom quicker than just using a physical control. If you’re a hand-talker like I am, you’ll invariably end up pausing a song or cranking the volume, as well.

BMW has been doing the wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto thing for a minute now. Thankfully, that also extends to navigation, if you’d rather use you’re phone’s than the native setup.

It’s a little surprising BMW still charges extra for its extended driver assist suite even here. They’re worthwhile additions in something this large though: a 360-degree camera calms the nerves in tight underground garages, and Traffic Jam Assistant is a very natural adaptive cruise control system. The package also includes the BMW Drive Recorder, which saves short video clips for later viewing.

SEE ALSO: BMW M5 Competition vs Porsche Panamera GTS Comparison

Driving impressions

The term “effortless” gets thrown around a lot in this profession. It’s the single word that best describes the B8 driving experience, though. At any speed, in any gear, the B8 is responsive. Five hundred and ninety pound feet of torque simply pick this four-door up and fling it down the road, yet the cabin remains a leather-lined oasis of calm. That big V8 woofles away up ahead, all the muscle of an M car but without the uncouth dramatics that, while fun, make you the enemy of every condo neighbor. It still has a singing voice when revved up, but it’s calmer; silkier. The ZF auto never sets a foot wrong, quickly and consistently picking the right ratio for the task at hand.

Thank goodness for the HUD: 0–62 mph (0–100 km/h) happens in just 3.4 seconds, and the B8 will do it, repeatedly, sans drama. That’s just the car getting warmed up, too: passing maneuvers are quicker still. Alpina says this thing will hit 201 mph (324 km/h) if given the room, and there’s little reason to doubt that. Enormous Brembo brakes, with the calipers painted Alpina blue, are progressive and powerful, easily hauling the B8 down without fade.

What really elevates the B8 experience is the suspension tuning. The big sedan remains poised no matter what the road throws at it. In Comfort and Comfort+ modes it’s laid back, breathing with the road and keeping any surface-level nastiness far away from the cabin. Switch to the more sporting driving modes and body control tightens, the transmission mapping and throttle response get sharper, and the dials adopt the Alpina blue-and-green theme. Even here the B8 is composed, and remarkably agile for something over 200 inches long (5,092 mm). Credit to the rear-wheel steering: at low speeds the rear axle steers the opposite direction of the front, effectively shrinking the turning circle. At higher speeds the axles turn in unison, gifting the B8 with supreme stability.

What’s the competition?

The B8 runs in pretty rarified air. Its hand-built nature and continent-crushing abilities make it more of a Bentley Continental GT competitor than anything else. Maybe you’d consider something like an Aston Martin DB11, instead.

SEE ALSO: 2022 BMW M5 CS Review: An Exclusive Magic Show

There’s also the intriguing in-house angle: B8 or M8? Or, if exclusivity is your thing, perhaps the one-model-year-only M5 CS? That’s the closest fight in my mind. The “regular” M5 and M8 Competitions are both too normal, too sterile, to tempt me away. The M5 CS does things no 4,100-pound sedan has any right to do, a fitter, happier M5 capable of delivering plenty of thrills. It looks great in green, too. I wouldn’t judge anybody for going CS, if they’re lucky enough to be picking between the two.

Of course, the cost of entry is steep. The B8 starts at $140,895 ($162,380 CAD), including destination. Even then, there are options, such as the extended driver assists ($1,800 / $2,500 CAD) and the glorious two-tone Merino leather ($2,000 / $4,500 CAD). This Canadian-spec tester also features a few bits that are standard in the US (sunshades, ventilated seats, Laserlight headlights), and one that American buyers can’t access: the Bowers & Wilkins surround sound system. It’s a biggie at $4,900 CAD, but plays music with the sort of clarity to match those dazzling crystal controls.

All in, we’re looking at $144,695 ($179,130 CAD). It’s a testament to the overall experience that even at that price, the B8 feels worth it. It’s the most impressive version of the 8 Series, too. That being said, I’d wager more North Americans would appreciate this bespoke feeling in smaller, (slightly more) affordable packages, like the 3- and 5-series based models found in Europe.

Verdict: 2022 BMW Alpina B8 Review

The 2022 BMW Alpina B8 is the very definition of a grand tourer. It’s not the quickest or sharpest vehicle at this heady price, but it does everything with a creamy smoothness that’s oh-so seductive. It embodies the quiet confidence of someone (or something) with nothing to prove.

Does that mean not everyone will know what exactly this not-just-a-BMW is, or how much its owner paid for the pleasure? Yes. Could they achieve most of the experience for substantially less coin? Also yes. Yet from behind the wheel, as the B8 imperceptibly shrinks distances between cities, a perfect mix of agility, comfort, style, and substance, that couldn’t matter less. It’s all about going all over the place.

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