While the BMW ALPINA B6 Bi-Turbo may just look like an ordinary BMW 6 Series, it is anything but. ALPINA have worked their magic on the standard 6 Series to turn it into something far more special.
If you’ve never heard of ALPINA, you’d be forgiven. In 2019, 5,346 new BMWs were registered. In contrast, there was only one new ALPINA registered. So why this stark difference in sales numbers? For that answer, we have to take a look at what separates an ALPINA from your common or garden BMW.
We’ve covered the origins of the ALPINA brand here in our review of the B5 Bi-Turbo so we’ll just stick to the important bits in this piece. ALPINA started off as a tuning house for BMWs with ALPINA parts being given certification by BMW but they have been recognised as an independent automobile manufacturer since 1983.
ALPINA has a very close relationship with BMW, with their cars even being made on the BMW production line before getting the special ALPINA treatment. This means that all ALPINAs have their signature 2 VIN numbers, the original BMW one that’s crossed out, and the new ALPINA number.
This relationship also carries on through the basic styling of ALPINAs. At first glance, ALPINAs – this B6 included – just look like your run-of-the-mill BMWs. Upon closer inspection though, that story starts to change.
You notice the ALPINA badges on the front lip and rear boot lid, the signature pinstriping, and of course, the incredibly stylish 20-spoke ALPINA signature rims. This is much more than a beautified Beemer though, the changes are not limited to the cosmetic.
The B6 is based on the F13 generation BMW 650i and uses a modified version of the N63 twin-turbo V8 engine. With ALPINA’s new turbos and a couple of other juicy modifications, the B6’s V8 now produces a stonking 600hp and 800Nm of torque sent to the road through an 8-speed ALPINA Switchtronic gearbox.
And trust us, even though the B6 tips the scale at a hefty 1,945kg, the power and torque still rocket it from 0-100km/h in just 4.2 seconds.
With the monstrous power and torque and its understated looks, this is pretty much as wolf in sheep's clothing as cars get if the sheep was Armani. Open the doors (which are soft-closing by the way), and you’re greeted with an interior bathed in leather. It’s not your peasanty Napa or Merino leather either, this is LAVALINA leather.
The interior feels incredibly well put together, with the aforementioned LAVALINA leather covering damn near everything you can touch. And although this particular car was registered in 2016, with only about 7,000km on the clock, the interior looks, feels and even smells brand spanking new.
The ALPINA badged carpets, seatbacks, centre console, and steering wheel also remind you that you’re not in your uncle’s BMW, you’re in something far more special, and not to mention, rare.
This car is one of the Edition 50 models, which means that this is one of just 50 in the world and 3 in Southeast Asia so it’s unlikely you’ll ever see another one out on the road. The plaque in between the rear seats denotes this particular car as number 31/50.
As this particular car is an older model, you’ll notice the older version of BMW’s iDrive infotainment system which means while you won’t be getting Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. However, you still get the rest of the tested and proven iDrive features and a Bang & Olufsen sound system. You also get analogue gauges as opposed to the digital gauge cluster found in the new ALPINAs.
As safety and comfort features go, there isn’t any blind-spot monitoring or adaptive cruise control (you get normal cruise control) but you do still get a 360˚ camera which we feel is the most helpful feature on the whole car. With the B6’s width and big front and rear overhangs, the 360˚ camera is almost necessary to prevent you from running into kerbs, walls, and small children.
The fully electric seats are of course also draped in LAVALINA leather and have seat warmers although that might not be used much here. Sadly, this car doesn't have the ventilated seats found in the new ALPINAs either. Although it must be said, these minor gripes fade away the moment you hit the start button.
With a press of the nondescript start button, the twin-turbo V8 springs into life and a deep rumble from the lightweight Akrapovic titanium exhaust fills whatever area the car is in. Much like the rest of the car, the exhaust sound isn’t brash or obnoxious, just a low growl foreshadowing what the B6 is capable of.
Even a gentle prod of the throttle pedal in Comfort or Comfort+ mode will propel you down the road with an effortless waft. The numbers on the heads-up display climb with little more than a care as this machine was made for cruising, and that's just what it’ll do.
You don't even feel the speed until you’re well above the speed limit and even then it never feels out of breath or like you’re asking too much of it. It’s almost as if the B6 simply goes “Why, of course, Sir” every time you depress the pedal, never short of more power to give.
The B6 never feels out of its element at speed and stays composed as can be. There is some tyre noise that comes into the cabin but otherwise, the ride is smooth and the car is very reserved.
Pop the car into Sport or Sport+ mode, however, and the exhaust noise increases, the steering wheel weights up nicely, and the suspension stiffens up for a more dynamic ride. Get on the power now and you’re pushed back into the seat. The rear tyres squirm under acceleration as they try to cope with the power and torque.
0-100km/h in just 4.2s in a car weighing two tons is nothing short of incredible, with that beefy V8 launching you well into licence-losing territory with nary a second thought.
It’ll keep going too. The B6 is not afflicted by the 255km/h speed limit set on normal BMWs, with its unrestricted top speed of a frankly ridiculous 330km/h.
Its weakness starts to show when trying to corner hard. While the brakes are massive – 395mm discs with 4-pot Brembo callipers – they’re necessary due to the sheer bulk of the car. Two tons is a lot of weight to slow down and the story is the same when going through the bends.
The B6 is noticeably front-heavy due to the weight of that V8 and the car just doesn't feel at home trying to carve out a tight twisty road. It’s simply far too big and heavy to do that. Where it really comes into its own though, is out on the open road.
As addictive as brute power and kicking the tail out is, once the novelty of flooring it everywhere wore off, we found ourselves putting the car back into Comfort or Comfort+ and basked in the ‘waftiness’ of the B6.
The comfort and ease with which it eats up the highway miles are second only to very few.
With the borders still closed for now, we can only imagine how great the B6 would be on a long trip up to KL or Genting. While you might not be able to bring many people, you and your one passenger will be able to drive up with more than enough room for luggage. As expected in a car as large as this, boot space is not in short supply.
However, if you get on it during your drive, you might have to make a fuel stop a couple of times, more than you’d probably like.
During our test drive, we single-handedly contributed to global warming with our average fuel consumption at a miserable 5km/l, a far cry from the claimed 10.4km/l. Then again, if you’re buying something like a B6, you probably aren’t too bothered about fiddly things like fuel economy.
So with that being said, just who is this car for? At almost $700,000 brand new, this obviously isn’t for everyone and nobody needs this much power and torque either. But the way everything blends together, it misses the point of excessive and is rather on the spectrum of elegance instead.
This isn’t a car for show-offs, and you won’t find a YP driving around in one of these either. This is a car for those with more refined taste. Someone who would spend his nights in Millenia Walk instead of Kallang Carpark. Someone who, while obviously affluent, is discerning and wants something more special.
Is all that talk of sophistication and magic carpet-ness and taste worth that nearly $700,000 price tag though? At that price point, we’re pretty deep into supercar territory and while the B6 might not be a supercar, it is undoubtedly a super car.
Special Promo Price at S$320,800 (before COE)
Engine: 4,395cc Bi-Turbo V8
Power: 600hp @ 6,000rpm
Torque: 800nm @ 3,000-4,500rpm
Fuel Consumption: 10.4km/l
0-100km/h: 4.2 seconds
Top Speed: 330km/h
Drivetrain: 8-Speed ALPINA Switchtronic; Rear-Wheel Drive
Brakes: All-Round Disc Brakes, 395mm Brembo discs in Front
Dimensions (LxWxH): 4,894mm x 1,894mm x 1,375mm
Fuel Tank Capacity: 70l
Boot Capacity: 460l
Bang & Olufsen Sound System
Carbon-Tipped Titanium Akrapovic Exhaust
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