Roughly a year ago, we reported on how it didn’t seem particularly likely that BMW would introduce a Gran Coupé version of the current M4. Even with internal four-door competitors like the M3 and i4 M50, a potential M4 Gran Coupé seems like it would be a compelling model within the portfolio, with enticing characteristics that include the utility of the hatchback, the attractive looks of BMW’s four-door coupes, and, of course, the power of the current M lineup.
A year later, an M4 Gran Coupé seems even less likely, but Alpina has come out with an alternative that makes even more sense. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like the Alpina B4 Gran Coupé will be sold here in the U.S., but like the upcoming M3 Touring and the competing Alpina B3 Touring, it’s a noteworthy model within the broader model portfolio—and we certainly hope it does come to the U.S.
Like the Alpina B3 Touring, the B4 Gran Coupé uses a version of the BMW S58 M twin-turbo inline six engine found in the M3, M4, X3 M, and X4 M. Output of 495 horsepower from 5,000 to 7,000 rpm and 538 pound-feet of torque from 2,500 to 4,500 places the B4 Gran Coupé between the conventional and Competition versions of the M3 and M4 in terms of power, but the torque of the Alpina is greater than any other version of the S58 engine. It’s also more than the B3 Touring, which develops 462 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque from a version of the same engine.
Like BMW’s current M models, other Alpina models, and of course, the model upon which it is based, the B4 Gran Coupé uses a model-specific form of BMW’s xDrive all-wheel-drive system. In addition to allowing for all-weather performance, the system also lets the B4 make the most of its impressive torque output. A model-specific version of the otherwise ubiquitous ZF eight-speed automatic transmission, branded as an Alpina Switch-Tronic unit, is also present. The Alpina B4 Gran Coupé has a curb weight of 4,332 pounds, making it heavier than the M3 Competition xDrive by roughly 350 pounds, and is said to accelerate from zero to 62 mph in 3.7 seconds, which means the actual zero-to-60 time is likely to be a bit lower. The top speed of the B4 Gran Coupé is 187 mph according to Alpina.
Other mechanical highlights of the B4 Gran Coupé are the presence of an electronically controlled limited-slip differential, twenty-inch Alpina multi-spoke wheels wrapped in model-specific Pirelli P Zero tires, variable sport steering, and an electronically controlled exhaust system with quad oval-shaped tailpipe finishers. The B4 also uses what’s described as the Alpina sport suspension, which is comprised of model-specific springs, electronically controlled dampers, and specially developed sway bars. Beyond the obvious power and performance comparison, the suspension is what makes the inevitable M model contrast interesting, because it effectively makes the case for the Alpina being an exceptional daily driver, thanks to compliance the M cars just can’t match.
The interior can be lined with Alpina’s Lavalina leather, which is where the hand-made, bespoke nature of both the brand and its models really makes itself apparent. Like any Alpina model, there’s also a plaque displaying the production sequence number present on the center console amongst the various controls. It looks as though just about all of the tech and amenities available on the 4 Series Gran Coupé upon which it is based will be offered on the B4, including BMW’s suite of driver assistance systems and things like BMW Live Cockpit Professional and a heated steering wheel, to name a few.
Alpina describes the transmission of the B4 Gran Coupé as “smooth and fast” in its own release, but those words could also likely be used to summarize the model as a whole. That’s the inherent benefit of an Alpina, regardless of them being rarer and more exclusive than a Rolls-Royce; Alpina models have the speed and similar performance of an M car, but with the benefits of enhanced luxury and a ride that isn’t quite as harsh. The last part of that sentence is key, because as M cars have become ever faster and more capable, the all-out speed of cars like the M5 Competition and X3 M has seemingly come at a cost of ride quality and, in turn, the everyday usability that used to make M cars such an enticing proposition.
All of those qualities together are why we’re almost always going to be in favor of BMW selling more Alpina models here in the U.S. The cost of something like the B4 Gran Coupé (roughly equivalent to $100,000) makes the bigger and more expensive models like the XB7, B7, and B8 Gran Coupé a much safer bet, but none of those numerical realities seem to tamp the desire for models like the B4, the B3 Touring, and the B5 Touring.
With BMW recently announcing its acquisition of the Alpina brand, however, the possibility of them introducing more models here doesn’t seem out of the question.—Alex Tock
[Photos courtesy Alpina Burkard Bovensiepen GmbH + Co. KG.]