Alpina a German manufacturer makes fewer than 2,000 luxury cars a year, all of which are based on the BMW model range.
Alpina a German manufacturer makes fewer than 2,000 luxury cars a year, all of which are based on the BMW model range.

BMW B6 Alpina



In the world of high-end cars, there comes a point where performance and luxury are simply not enough. Horsepower is easy to come by these days: Porsches, Corvettes, Ferraris, Lamborghinis - everyone's trying to outdo each other. And it seems as if most of the world's car makers are buying cows bathed in oil and butter, softening their hides for the most luxurious interiors imaginable. So when you're looking to show up your neighbour with your next new car, what choice do you have?

The selling point, then, is not how many cylinders your car has, but how few people own your car. In a word, exclusivity. That's the raison d'etre of Alpina. The German company is officially listed as an automobile manufacturer, though it builds all of its cars based on BMW's line-up. It slots in above the base BMWs for luxury and just below the M Series for performance. What the company does is simple: it offers unique exterior paint, wheels, interiors and performance upgrades, but fewer than 2,000 cars are built annually. Thereby, if you own an Alpina, there's a pretty good chance you'd be the only one on the block with one. Of course, this being the UAE, that may not apply.

And these things are different, I found as I first climbed into this bright blue, B6 two-door coupé. Wow, the interior was, uh, different. Soft, cream-coloured leather lined just about every centimetre of space inside the car. Contrasting stitching highlighted the seams, with blue piping lining the seats. Highly polished maple adorned the centre stack. I had come to expect a certain clean and reserved taste in BMWs, and this was a little beyond the norm. I would even go so far as to say it was garish. Not what I would expect from a German luxury car.

Right, then. Let's try to focus on the ride, I thought. And, it being built on a BMW 6 Series, the ride was, of course, pretty well perfect. The soft and luxurious demeanour easily held its composure with fits of higher-speed, tight-corner driving. I'm not sure this is the kind of car I'd want to thrash around a race- track on the weekends, but it could probably handle it. It's certainly more than capable of spirited driving around town.

And spirited is somewhat of an understatement. Five hundred and thirty horsepower under the hood gives this coupé a mighty kick, sending it from nought to 60 kilometres per hour in 4.4 seconds. The 4.4-litre V8 is coupled to a very capable six-speed automatic transmission with manual shifting capabilities. Sounds like a great combination, doesn't it? And yet, it could be so much better. Instead of manually shifting with paddle shifters, Alpina put two small nubs on the back of the steering wheel, with up and down shifts marked by large + and ? signs stitched in leather on the each side of the front of the wheel. Why? BMW's M6 has a perfectly good - actually, much better - transmission in its double-clutch, sequential manual box. This can be driven like a tame automatic, but when you want to play, it's a proper, Formula 1-inspired box with paddle shifters. Why offer anything less?

In fact, questioning the gearbox brought the whole comparison of the M6 and B6 into perspective. There's absolutely nothing wrong with the ride of the M6 - it can be soft and supple or tight and sporty, and it can also be adjusted to suit the situation, unlike the B6. It's got about the same power, a much better gearbox, and pretty well the same exterior look. Oh, it's also got that whole "M button" thing, which can change the car from a smooth, boulevard-cruising coupé to a snarling beast for the track. The kicker for me is the fact its interior is much more tastefully appointed, yet no less luxurious than the B6. The M6 is a car I would take to the Autodrome; the B6 seems like something you take to the golf course to show off to your mates before you head out for a foursome. Exclusivity or not, I just don't get the whole idea of it.

Here's a thought: bring home the M6, buy a set of low-rider dubs and get the car painted in your own choice of colour, then get a pinstripe put on down the side. You'll find you'll do a lot less golfing and a lot more driving. nvorano@thenational.ae

THE SPECS

Engine: 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 hybrid
Power: 653hp at 5,400rpm
Torque: 800Nm at 1,600-5,000rpm
Transmission: 8-speed auto
0-100kph in 4.3sec
Top speed 250kph
Fuel consumption: NA
On sale: Q2 2023
Price: From Dh750,000

Company Profile

Name: Direct Debit System
Started: Sept 2017
Based: UAE with a subsidiary in the UK
Industry: FinTech
Funding: Undisclosed
Investors: Elaine Jones
Number of employees: 8

Kandahar

Director: Ric Roman Waugh

Stars: Gerard Butler, Navid Negahban, Ali Fazal

Rating: 2.5/5

J Street Polling Results

97% of Jewish-Americans are concerned about the rise in anti-Semitism

76% of US Jewish voters believe Donald Trump and his allies in the Republican Party are responsible for a rise in anti-Semitism

74% of American Jews agreed that “Trump and the Maga movement are a threat to Jews in America"

KEY DATES IN AMAZON'S HISTORY

July 5, 1994: Jeff Bezos founds Cadabra Inc, which would later be renamed to Amazon.com, because his lawyer misheard the name as 'cadaver'. In its earliest days, the bookstore operated out of a rented garage in Bellevue, Washington

July 16, 1995: Amazon formally opens as an online bookseller. Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought becomes the first item sold on Amazon

1997: Amazon goes public at $18 a share, which has grown about 1,000 per cent at present. Its highest closing price was $197.85 on June 27, 2024

1998: Amazon acquires IMDb, its first major acquisition. It also starts selling CDs and DVDs

2000: Amazon Marketplace opens, allowing people to sell items on the website

2002: Amazon forms what would become Amazon Web Services, opening the Amazon.com platform to all developers. The cloud unit would follow in 2006

2003: Amazon turns in an annual profit of $75 million, the first time it ended a year in the black

2005: Amazon Prime is introduced, its first-ever subscription service that offered US customers free two-day shipping for $79 a year

2006: Amazon Unbox is unveiled, the company's video service that would later morph into Amazon Instant Video and, ultimately, Amazon Video

2007: Amazon's first hardware product, the Kindle e-reader, is introduced; the Fire TV and Fire Phone would come in 2014. Grocery service Amazon Fresh is also started

2009: Amazon introduces Amazon Basics, its in-house label for a variety of products

2010: The foundations for Amazon Studios were laid. Its first original streaming content debuted in 2013

2011: The Amazon Appstore for Google's Android is launched. It is still unavailable on Apple's iOS

2014: The Amazon Echo is launched, a speaker that acts as a personal digital assistant powered by Alexa

2017: Amazon acquires Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, its biggest acquisition

2018: Amazon's market cap briefly crosses the $1 trillion mark, making it, at the time, only the third company to achieve that milestone

The Roundup : No Way Out

Director: Lee Sang-yong
Stars: Don Lee, Lee Jun-hyuk, Munetaka Aoki
Rating: 3/5

Formula 4 Italian Championship 2023 calendar

April 21-23: Imola
May 5-7: Misano
May 26-28: SPA-Francorchamps
June 23-25: Monza
July 21-23: Paul Ricard
Sept 29-Oct 1: Mugello
Oct 13-15: Vallelunga

UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets

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