The Alpina B5 super-wagon is here at last, almost a year after smashing us in the chops with its vast numbers.
First, a quick recap of those figures. Alpina specilises in building BMW-based ‘practical supercars to enjoy every day.’With 600bhp and 590lb ft just an ankle-flex away, we’re not going to argue. It’ll hit 205mph and the 4.4-litre V8 is already churning out 494bhp by 2000rpm. Tractable? Oh yes.
It’s based on the G30 5-Series, with BMW’s xDrive four-wheel drive setup. That makes this the first four-wheel drive B5, and it’s probably no bad thing with all that juice under your right boot.
It’s yours in saloon guise as well, should you be an idiot and not want the estate. The former is a tenth faster to 62mph, at 3.4 seconds, but it’s way less cool. The price difference is £2000: the saloon starts at £89,000 and the wagon tips the scales at £91,000. Pretty damn reasonable, given the performance and practicality on offer. It’s the cheapest brand new 200mph car in the UK, and it has a BMW-backed three-year, 120,000-mile warranty…
BMW is heavily involved in overseeing what Alpina does. The B5 has been refined in BMW’s own wind tunnel and its engine is the Munich brand’s N63TU2 lump. There are some key differences, though. The original turbos have been swapped out for bespoke twin-scroll units that, combined with induction tubing revisions, are claimed to provide ‘near-instant’ throttle response. The turbos are mounted in the newly fashionable ‘hot’ position, too, between the cylinder banks.
There’s extra cooling, too. A direct air/water/air intercooler setup boosts power and responsiveness, says Alpina. A master intercooler feeds two close-coupled ‘slave’ units. There are two extra ordinary radiators and an extra oil cooler, which collectively make sure the B5 can sit at high cruising speeds all day long without getting ill.
The pistons and spark plugs have been upgraded to Alpina spec. These harder-wearing parts can stand more abuse for longer. An even quirkier change is the move to rear discs that are even larger than the ones at the front. Alpina says that the increased surface area allows the non-ventilated discs to shed heat faster and allows them to take a greater share of the stopping load. They say it’s more stable and that there’s even less fade than some comparable carbon-ceramic setups…
This generation of B5 is about 30kg lighter than the old car, despite the addition of four-wheel drive. It gets 20-inch Alpina wheels, four-wheel steering and Alpine-bespoke Pirelli P-Zero tyres. Estates swap the rear coil springs for air suspension that always ensures a consistent ride height and top-drawer comfort.
Inside, Alpina can do pretty much whatever you want. Fancy green leather? Done. Logos embossed into the door trim? Yup. As standard you get Nappa leather upholstery, ceramic-finish ‘control surfaces’, Alpina roundels everywhere, mood lighting in Alpina Blue, and a hand-stitched branded steering wheel with green and blue contrast stitching. It maintains the, ahem, “firm rim preferred by skilled drivers.”
We can’t think of a single car that we’d rather own and live with than this, in estate form. We hope to get behind the wheel eventually.