2023 BMW Alpina D4 S Gran Coupe review
Could Alpina’s latest take on the diesel super-saloon be all the car you’d ever need?...
On sale Now | Price from £65,700
If you’re into the world of designer streetwear, you’ll no doubt have noticed that American fashion brand Kith has recently released a collaboration with BMW. We’ll leave it to you to decide if you like the results, but as a brand-building exercise it has been a colossal success, with the merch proving popular with everyone from Hollywood star Edward Norton (he looks particularly swish in Kith’s double-weave jacket; Google it) to our very own interns here at What Car?.
Which got us thinking. If renown BMW tuning division Alpina was to launch a fashion campaign, what brand would it choose to collaborate with? Our suggestion (if Alpina’s marketing department wants our two cents) would be outerwear specialists Moncler because despite both brands occupying the ‘luxury’ end of their respective markets, their products are made to be used every day. Alpina describes its latest creation, the D4 S Gran Coupe, as the ideal companion for high-mileage drivers who value low fuel consumption but do not want to compromise on performance and dynamics.
To guarantee it meets those lofty claims, the D4 S uses the same 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged diesel straight six from the superb BMW M440d coupe, but thanks to improved cooling and some engine management tweaks it now produces 350bhp (a 10% increase) and a colossal 538lb ft of torque. Combined with xDrive all-wheel-drive, the D4 S sprints to 62mph in 4.8secs and tops out at 168mph. More than enough poke, we reckon, for the daily commute.
But Alpina hasn’t stopped there. To ensure that the D4 S is somehow both more agile and more comfortable than the Gran Coupé on which it is based, it gets increased camber on the front wheels (to make the steering sharper), bespoke suspension (to improve body control) and a greater differentiation between the various driving modes (to increase the car’s breadth of abilities).
It all sounds very promising, but does a £65,700 executive car with a powerful diesel engine (a form of propulsion that feels as ‘in vogue’ as a goose-down lined jacket) really have a place in 2023? Well, it’s time to find out.
What’s it like to drive?
Diesel engines might not be particularly in fashion at the moment, but the D4 S’s 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged straight-six is a revelation. It produces so much shove, so ridiculously low in its rev range, that it almost feels as if you’re driving a high-performance electric car. But unlike in a Porsche Taycan or Mercedes EQE 53 you have options over how your power source behaves.
You can either leave the eight-speed automatic gearbox in automatic mode and ride the engine’s wave of torque from corner to corner (a wonderfully relaxing way to make progress) or you can take manual control with the steering wheel paddles and let the engine rev all the way to its 5000rpm redline.
And yet the most impressive characteristic of this superb engine is its ability to return over 50mpg at a motorway cruise. This efficiency, paired with a generously sized 59-litre fuel tank, guarantees you a 600 mile-plus range – or around double the range of a Porsche Taycan 4S Performance Battery Plus. Ideal for non-stop long-distance travel.
The suspension settings Alpina’s engineers have conjured up for the D4 S also do a great deal to bolster its long-distance credentials, because it rides beautifully over virtually any surface, be it a pockmarked city street or a mottled B-road. We’d go so far as to say that it is even more comfortable than the petrol-powered B4 Gran Coupe that we drove late last year, which is no small feat.
Once you really up your pace, you do start to get a sense of the Alpina’s not insubstantial kerb weight (the kind of crests and compressions that would be shrugged off by an Alfa Romeo Giula Quadrifoglio give the Alpina’s suspension pause for thought before it settles down), but it never feels wayward, and the rear-biased all-wheel-drive system, combined with surprisingly feelsome steering, ensures that you always feel involved in the driving process.
It’s a genuinely engaging car that really encourages you to get stuck in on the right road, unlike the rather flat-footed Audi S5 Sportback – at the same point where that car will start to push wide the Alpina’s nose will dig in, opening up the opportunity for you to adjust your line using the accelerator. In other words, it’s more fun than any diesel executive car has a right to be.
What’s it like inside?
The interior of the D4 Gran Coupe is almost identical to what you’ll find in the standard BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe. 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.
The dashboard layout is intuitive, with physical 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 S5 Sportback.
You also get Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring as standard so you can use your phone apps, and there’s an option to upgrade to a punchier Harman Kardon sound system.
Helping to add to the sense of occasion, subtle Alpina touches are 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.
What’s more, 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.
As for space, those sitting up front are unlikely to be short on leg or head room, while storage space is decent 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. Things are a little tighter in the rear; six-foot tall occupants will find their heads grazing the roof lining, but there’s still more head and leg room than in the Coupé variants of the 4 Series.
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