A dignified take on luxury and performance with Big Boss Energy
THE GOOD
  • Big Boss Energy
  • Subtle swagger
  • Smooth and capable powertrain
THE BAD
  • More features should be standard
  • Backseat space

I know I’m getting old because I read articles about TikTok instead of actually using TikTok.

I’ve also caught myself denouncing everyday excess at an alarming rate. Certain foods I used to devour with the recklessness of my youth are now “too sweet,” music in restaurants has suddenly become “too loud,” and certain cars are just “too over the top” for me to comfortably enjoy without feeling embarrassed.

In a time where certain cars, clothing, and lifestyles appeal to the masses because of their flash factor and worthiness to be posted on Instagram, the 2022 BMW Alpina B8 is a refreshing take on luxury and performance. The B8 isn’t too anything – except perhaps too dignified. This is a vehicle that will never beg for attention and praise (but gets it anyways from those in the know). It’s simply too dignified for that.

What is Alpina?

Alpina is a family-owned manufacturing company based in Germany that has been around for more than 55 years producing “exclusive masterpieces for automotive connoisseurs … who appreciate the extraordinary and who know how to enjoy pleasure,” according to owner and founder Burkard Bovensiepen. The company works closely with BMW to apply its expertise in savoir vivre (living elegantly) to about 1,700 BMW cars and SUVs a year. From hand-building engines to customizing every component of the interior, Alpina is dedicated to its guiding principles of pleasure, tradition, and authenticity.

Although Alpina is a separate company, BMW services and backs all Alpina models with a warranty. The partnership has always worked because, according to Alpina, it “empowers the creation of products that are highly individual while at the same time meeting the stringent quality and safety standards that apply to large-scale production cars.”

Style: 10/10

Subtlety speaks volumes and this sedan, which BMW calls a “gran coupé,” is packed with understated touches that hint at how special and exclusive it is. From Alpina’s signature 21-inch 20-spoke wheels, blue brake calipers, integrated exhaust tips, and dark metallic green paint, every single detail tells a story and has been given a home with the most serious of intentions.

This vehicle seems to have been mercifully spared from the team of BMW designers who believe that “more is more.” They continue to design grilles while chanting “bigger is better” as if it was a religious mantra, adding creases or vents to bodywork just for the sake of it. That’s another sign I’m getting older; I’ve caught myself saying, “Back in my day, BMW designs were so much better.”

The paint is lustrous and deep, appearing almost black in the shade and a bright emerald when the sun hits it just right. The proportions are perfect, the wheels have been pushed as far into the car’s corners as possible, and every detail adds up to give the B8 a majestic, regal aura.

It gets even better inside. I inspected the interior closely trying to find something that was askew, but every single stitch, every panel, every piece of leather, and every piece of trim was crafted and assembled with great care by someone who clearly takes great pride in their artistry.

The crystal glass gear selector and infotainment controller are dazzling, refracting light in the most magical way and splashing rainbows onto the centre console when the sun hits them from the right direction. They also feel slightly cold to the touch. More than just objets d’art to ogle from a distance, being main touchpoints to use and experience every single time you drive makes these little luxuries even more special because they’re both functional and beautiful. The customizable ambient lighting makes the otherwise old-world cabin feel more modern.

Overall, the Alpina B8 feels opulent and stately, engaging your senses and embodying the type of stoic swagger I can only wish to achieve one day. Although this sedan radiates Big Boss Energy, it’s subtle enough that it glides by mostly unnoticed by the casual passerby. Occasionally, someone who is familiar with Alpina magic will give you an admiring nod, but this is the opposite of a fire-breathing, candy-coloured, overcompensating-for-something exotic car that pleads for attention. The Alpina B8 is noble and proud; it wouldn’t stoop to those levels.

Power: 10/10

The 2022 Alpina B8 is powered by a glorious 4.4L twin-turbocharged V8 with 612 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque that gets power to all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission. BMW rates its zero-to-100-km/h time at a blazing 3.4 seconds. It’s likely that I’ve never experienced a powertrain this smooth and capable. The B8 is unrelenting and lavishing in its delivery of speed yet also feels incredibly refined, all its components never missing a beat and consistently working together to deliver harmonious performance. V8s will always be charming, but Alpina has worked some magic to make this one sound like it should be winning a Grammy. It doesn’t just sound like a big, brash V8; there’s a certain artistry to its bassy notes that makes it sound more melodious than most other V8s.

Driving Feel: 10/10

The B8 gets M performance upgrades all around and is based on the BMW M850i, so it has a good starting point to deliver impressive driving dynamics. Made for long-distance comfort and performance, the Alpina B8 feels capable and composed in every situation. Whether bombing through curvy back roads, explosively accelerating to pass that Tesla driver who seems to be offended by your mere existence, snaking through the city, or just cruising casually on the highway, the B8 exists in a constant state of being unbothered. Rough roads? What rough roads! The B8’s masterfully calibrated suspension irons out any imperfections so the ride is supple, but a few metres down the road when flung into a hard corner, it feels glued to the pavement, the sedan manoeuvring like a much smaller car with confidence and poise at all times.

Fuel Economy: 8/10

Not that this matters too much for a vehicle like this, but the BMW M850i this Alpina B8 is based on is rated to get 14.0 L/100 km in the city, 9.7 on the highway, and 12.0 combined. This Alpina version isn’t rated officially, but I was averaging a not-terrible 12.3 L/100 km over almost 600 km of mixed driving. Of course, you’ll have to fill its tank with the highest-grade fuel available.

Practicality: 7/10

The trunk holds 440 L of cargo, enough for four carry-ons, and the middle seat folds down to act as a pass-through for long items like skis. For some reason, the middle seat actually has a seatbelt, but the passenger would have to straddle a huge centre tunnel/console, so it wouldn’t be a comfortable place to spend time in the first place. There isn’t a bunch of room for small item storage and the cupholders and door pockets are very small, but this matters not in a car like this.

Comfort: 8/10

The driver and front-seat passenger are treated like royalty, with the heated steering wheel, seats, and arm rests feeling like a warm hug. The leather is soft and the highly adjustable front seats are remarkably comfortable and supportive even after a long drive. The interior is remarkably good at isolating passengers from the noises and chaos of the outside world.

Although the back-seat passengers have a few amenities like sunshades, their own climate zone and more ample headroom is, unfortunately, not one of the niceties here.

Features: 8/10

I was surprised to learn certain features like massaging seats or ventilated seats aren’t offered as standard in a luxury grand touring car of this price, but if you want them, BMW offers them for a premium. Wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are included and information like navigation directions from smartphone mirroring is helpfully shown in the head-up display. The parking camera shows you where the doors will open so you can avoid dinging someone else’s car. Drivers can outfit the B8 with nearly every feature BMW offers, but like most luxury automakers, most of those features cost extra.

Safety: 8/10

Standard safety features include blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, forward collision warning with pedestrian detection, low-speed automatic emergency braking, and lane-departure warning.

The Advanced Driver Assistance package is a $2,500 upgrade that includes a self-parking system, surround-view monitor, adaptive cruise control with traffic jam assistant, and a drive recorder, which acts like a dashcam in the event of a collision.

User Friendliness: 7/10

Having so many features inherently makes the B8 less user-friendly. There are endless menus to sort through and you’d be wise to read the owner’s manual to fully understand the extent of how to operate all its many functions. The gesture controls are supposed to make certain tasks easier, for example; but if you’re a hand talker, it ends up mistaking your chatty extremities for gestures and will randomly mute the radio or change the station.

Otherwise, the infotainment system can be controlled by the touchscreen or the dial on the centre console. I found myself taking my eyes off the road to access the shortcut buttons near the dial, but BMW also offers its voice-activated personal assistant that drivers can use to ask questions or operate certain functions, including opening the windows.

Value: 8/10

The Alpina B8 would be perfect for someone who might be interested in a Rolls-Royce or Bentley but feels those brands and the statements they make might be too ostentatious. For less money, someone can get into the Alpina B8 without making a huge sacrifice in quality or performance. When approached from this perspective, the B8 seems like a bargain.

The 2022 Alpina B8 starts at $159,900 plus taxes and a non-negotiable $2,480 destination fee. My tester had $16,750 in options that brought the final tally before taxes to $179,130. Yes, some of those options (including a 360-degree top-down parking camera, ventilated seats, the glass trim details, traffic jam assistant, and more) should be included as standard in a car with a six-figure starting price, but somehow the obsessive craftsmanship makes the price feel worth every penny.

The Verdict

One of the most freeing joys of getting older for me is letting go of the compulsion to put my life and achievements on display for others. As I’m getting older, I’m becoming a happier and more private person who now understands the simple joy of living for myself rather than putting on a show for others and trying to prove how awesome I am to people who don’t matter to me.

The 2022 Alpina B8 isn’t a car for old people, but for old souls. I’m not even that old (currently in my mid-30s), but I’m living my best life, and that’s what this Alpina is all about. This subtle nod to living for yourself appeals to me on a spiritual level and if you’re the type of driver who prefers to enjoy their luxuries and accomplishments privately, you’ll be immensely gratified by the Alpina experience.

Specifications

Engine Displacement 4.4L   Model Tested 2022 BMW Alpina B8
Engine Cylinders Twin-turbo V8   Base Price $159,900
Peak Horsepower 612 hp   A/C Tax $100
Peak Torque 590 lb-ft   Destination Fee $2,480
Fuel Economy 14/9.7/ 12 L/100 km city/hwy/cmb   Price as Tested $179,230
Cargo Space 440 L  
Optional Equipment
$16,750 – Advanced Driver Assistance Package, $2,500; Side and Rear Sunshades, $1,500; Ventilated Seats, $500; Glass Application for Interior Elements, $850; Ash Black Wood with Silver Effect, $500; BMW Laser Headlights, $1,500; Bowers & Wilkins Diamond Surround Sound System, $4,900; Full Merino Leather, $4,500