What Car? says...
If at first glance you thought this Alpina B4 Gran Coupé was a BMW, that's very understandable. In effect it is – and then some. Alpina takes regular BMW cars (in this case the M440i Gran Coupé) and turns up the performance and opulence to 11.
It’s not very often you see an Alpina on UK roads, but that’s not because they’re bad cars. Far from it. In fact, the firm is now officially part of the BMW brand, which is a pretty big step for what was a small family firm.
And the B4 Gran Coupé is the first model to have its name officially prefixed with BMW. Alpina has worked its magic by taking the standard car and making subtle additions to the styling, tweaking the suspension and uprating the twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre six-cylinder petrol engine.
There's also a diesel version, badged D4, but there isn’t currently an Alpina version of the two-door coupé or convertible.
The standard 4 Series Gran Coupé already does an admirable job of combining the sleek looks of a coupé with the added practicality of rear doors and a hatchback tailgate opening. This B4 version gives you almost as much performance as the BMW M3 in a more practical body.
There’s more. Unlike an M-badged BMW, the Alpina’s appearance is suited up to be more classy, rather than imposing or aggressive. That also applies to the way the B4 goes about its business, covering ground quickly in an effortless manner, rather than attacking it.
Choosing a trim level is easy, with only one available. What may require more of your time is deciding which options to have, including the factory-fitted ones available with the regular Gran Coupé, and the wealth of Alpina-specific extras.
In terms of rivals, there are few direct competitors. The Audi S5 Sportback is closest in size and shape, but is far cheaper and comes with a diesel engine that’s nowhere near as powerful.
Should you buy one, though? Well, over the next few pages of this review, we’ll tell you how we rate the Alpina B4 Gran Coupé in terms of performance, interior quality, practicality and running costs.
And if all this talk of performance coupés has got you interested in finding a new car, you can find the best prices with our free What Car? New Car Deals pages. They have lots of new performance car deals.
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
In the Alpina B4 Gran Coupé, the 3.0-litre petrol engine from the BMW M440i is boosted from 369bhp to 488bhp. That gives the car a 0-62mph time of 3.7sec, which is only 0.1sec shy of the new M3 Touring. Performance is potent, and the car leaps towards the horizon with little hesitation.
Power is sent to all four wheels, but you can't switch between four-wheel drive and rear-wheel drive as you can in BMW's M3 and M4. Still, the B4’s prodigious levels of power can still overcome the strong levels of traction when provoked. In everyday driving, you can make use of the power available with little fuss or drama, even in wet conditions.
The engine feels and sounds smoother than the engines in the M models, too, offering a more refined and calmer way to cover ground. It will rev keenly all the way to the redline, accompanied by a fruity exhaust note that isn’t too loud. In essence, it goes about its business in a far less shouty way.
As with the M440i Gran Coupé, the slick-shifting eight-speed automatic gearbox is excellent, brilliantly judging whether to shift down a gear or stick with the one already selected.
The B4 comes with tweaked suspension (including bespoke spring and damper rates), grippier Pirelli tyres and a rear limited-slip differential to minimise wheel spin when accelerating out of corners. The handling feels quite neutral, with huge levels of grip set up for high-speed stability, rather than outright agility.
Alpina performance brakes are optional. They're effective at shedding speed, and the pedal response isn’t too sharp, making the B4 easy to drive in slow, heavy traffic.
There’s some road noise from the 20in tyres, but it's otherwise serene inside, with the engine fading into the background and very little wind noise filtering through. That’s good news for long distance journeys.
What takes the shine off the comfort levels is that you’re always aware of how firm the ride is. It’s a bit knobbly at low speeds and struggles to settle down even in the most supple Comfort Plus drive mode. Larger bumps can throw you around in your seat as well.
The interior layout, fit and finish
The interior of the Alpina B4 Gran Coupé is almost identical to the standard BMW 4 Series Gran Coupé. That means you sit low, with an easy-to-find comfortable driving position and seats that hold you in place with grippy suede-like material. Unfortunately, electric lumbar support is an optional extra, and the pedals are slightly offset to the right.
The dashboard layout is intuitive, with buttons for the air-con controls and a BMW iDrive rotary-controlled infotainment system that allows you to scroll through menus accurately. It’s much less distracting than the touchscreen-only set-up in the Audi S5 Sportback.
So what are you getting for your money over the BMW car? Well, there are minor Alpina touches dotted around the interior, with badging on the steering wheel and dash, logos on the seats and the brand’s signature blue background for the digital instrument panel. There’s also a numbered plaque on the centre console by the gear lever.
The bolder font used on the digital instrument panel makes it easier to glance at than the standard system, and you can opt for a head-up display to keep your eyes on the road.
The large rear windows mean visibility remains high, plus you get a rear-view camera, and front and rear parking sensors as standard to help out. LED lights are standard too, and BMW’s laserlights are available as an option.
Passenger & boot space
How it copes with people and clutter
Those sitting up front have plenty of space on offer in the Alpina B4 Gran Coupé, with ample leg and head room even if you're more than six feet tall. Storage space is good too, thanks to a big glovebox, a useful cubby under the centre armrest, decent-sized door bins, two cup holders and a tray for storing your phone.
As the Gran Coupé, this version of the 4 Series has the advantage of rear doors to make accessing the rear seats easy. Six-foot back-seat occupants will find their heads grazing the roof lining, but there’s still more head and leg room than in the Coupé and Convertible variants of the BMW 4 Series.
There’s not much space for feet beneath the front seats so it can feel restrictive, and the large transmission tunnel makes life tricky for a third rear passenger.
The extra 30 litres of boot space over the two-door coupé brings an extra dose of practicality and, because it’s a hatchback, it’s easy to load and unload bigger, bulkier items, such as a suitcase or a pushchair. Speaking of which, we managed to fit seven carry-on suitcases in the standard 4 Series Gran Coupé, matching the BMW Alpina B3 Touring estate.
The rear seats can be split 40/20/40 then folded down to reveal an extended and totally flat load bay.
Buying & owning
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
There's a price for the extra opulence and performance in the Alpina B4 Gran Coupé, and it costs significantly more than a BMW M440i Gran Coupé. It’s closer to the two door M4 coupe xDrive and the upcoming M3 Touring, although at least you get a similar level of performance for the added costs.
Then there’s the running costs. This might be a little less powerful than the BMW M3 and BMW M4 but don’t let that fool you into thinking it’ll be much cheaper to run. Whether you’re making full use of the performance or crawling through stop-start traffic, average fuel economy figures will tumble towards 20mpg. The CO2 output of 229g/km places it in the highest band for company car tax. This is not a car you’d buy if you want to be frugal.
You do get a generous amount of kit as standard, and the optional equipment mirrors the standard 4 Series Gran Coupé, including a head-up display, sunroof and Harman Kardon stereo upgrade. Alpina also offers an extra level of customisation with unique exterior paint colours, and leather seat and interior trim finishers.
As a result, you could easily add another £15,000 worth of options with little effort, so it's easy to pay more than you would for an M4 xDrive or M3 Touring. At this price point, you’ll be treading on the toes of the larger Alpina B5 saloon.
The 4 Series Gran Coupé is too new to have featured in our 2022 What Car? Reliability Survey but BMW placed a rather average 16th out of the 32 brands included. That's above rivals Audi and Mercedes, though.
The model hasn’t been tested by Euro NCAP for safety, but it has plenty of standard safety equipment, including automatic emergency braking (AEB) and lane-departure assist. The optional Driving Assistant Professional pack (which comes as part of the Technology Plus Pack) adds adaptive cruise control, a more advanced lane-keeping assistant, a front cross-traffic alert system and an automatic speed-limit assist.
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It uses a tuned version of the 3.0-litre petrol engine in the BMW M440i. It’s much more powerful, with an extra 119bhp over the standard motor. There's also a diesel version available, badged D4. Read more here
Alpinas are as luxurious as the BMW models they’re based on, and offer an extra layer of customisation and opulence. You can choose from a range of additional exterior paint colours and interior materials not found on the BMW model. Read more here
|RRP price range||£67,000 - £82,200|
|Number of trims (see all)||2|
|Number of engines (see all)||2|
|Available fuel types (which is best for you?)||diesel, petrol|
|MPG range across all versions||28 - 40.9|
|Available doors options||5|
|Warranty||3 years / No mileage cap|
|Company car tax at 20% (min/max)||£4,877 / £5,914|
|Company car tax at 40% (min/max)||£9,754 / £11,829|