Choosing a car for this feature wasn’t just a case of naming the fastest, most powerful or most expensive thing I drove this year – although the Alpina B8 Gran Coupé comes close to being all of those things (201mph, 613bhp and £135,000, if you’re keeping score).
No, it earned the top spot because of how I got to experience it: on a long-distance drive through epic scenery, as its makers intended.
With foreign travel still banned by our publishers, we eschewed the French Riviera for a two-day excursion to the North Pennines, because a sporting grand tourer of this calibre deserved a proper grand tour. The 600-odd miles of there-and-back driving would give us plenty of time to compare notes on it and the Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door Coupé we’d lined up as a rival.
It might be less in-your-face than the AMG, but the B8 is no shrinking violet. An Alpina of any kind is a rare breed, but our Alpina Blue Metallic car had only weeks before it made its UK public debut at the Goodwood Festival of Speed and was sitting on UK importer Sytner’s ‘S17 NER’ reg plate. To those in the know, it was as recognisable as a Porsche wearing ‘911 HUL’.
And yet its incredibly refined road manners help you forget you’re driving something rarer than a Lamborghini Huracán. The way it serenely glides over all surfaces defies your expectations, the Comfort Plus setting delivering effortless cruising potential from what is an undeniably big and heavy four-door GT.