Cars

Alpina B3 and B5 Touring in direct comparison

Biturbo, all-wheel drive, station wagon. This no longer has much to do with the beginnings of the Alpina company. They are based in motorsport. It all started with tuning kits for the BMW 1500 (“New Class”), followed later by the 02 variants and larger models with six and even more cylinders. All of this culminated in the glorious twelve-cylinder on board the B12 Coupé in the early 1990s.
Back then, always part of the game: early virtues typical of BMW, such as a manual switch, rear-wheel drive and naturally aspirated engine. Today the world has changed – that of BMW and therefore also that of Alpina. The Allgäu noble gliders have long been produced on the assembly lines of the BMW plants. Are there even painted with the characteristic special colors “Alpina Blue” and “Alpina Green” – depending on the model for more or less extra charge (1950 euros for the B3 Touring, 2870 euros for the B5 Touring).
Alpina B3 Touring

B3 interior based on the pre-facelift G21. The updated version with i4-style wide screens is coming soon.


The B4 Biturbo Edition 99 was the last Alpina model with pure rear-wheel drive in 2019. Since then there has been no alternative to all-wheel drive. And so a B3 could also stand out from the M3 – at least until recently the Competition xDrive saw the light of day in the world of sports drivers. Until then, a B3 sedan with a basic price of 83,350 euros was a real alternative for everyone who would like to do without the latently threatening chubbiness of the M3.

B3 Touring costs 1800 euros extra

At the Alpina price, there’s just an M3 manual switch, for the 510 hp xDrive 94,500 euros are due. And at least until the launch of the M3 Touring this summer, the Allgäu have another argument on their side: a power station wagon. In this we have now made ourselves comfortable. The B3 Touring costs 1,800 euros more than the sedan and carries the same 462 hp S58 straight-six with twin turbochargers under the hood.
Alpina B3 Touring

Only the cover looks like a twelve-cylinder: A double-charged S58 straight-six from the M3 works in the Alpina B3.


Even if the base vehicle is an M340i, there is thoroughbred M3 technology under the sheet metal. The developers in Buchloe only adapted the philosophy to their own wishes. Means: a bit less power than in BMW’s top model, but 50 Newton meters more torque. The 8-speed automatic has also been adjusted, shifts smoothly and almost seamlessly. In order to be able to use the sport mode in proper style, our test car installed the shift paddles milled from solid aluminum and costing 280 euros. So you can finally flip through the speed levels in manual mode.

No automatic up switches in the Alpina B3

The previously used thumb buttons were classic and style-defining, but handling them took some getting used to. By the way: The manual mode is actually such a mode. There are no automatic upshifts on the B3 – it consistently runs into the limiter if the pilot doesn’t put his two cents into it.

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We switch to the larger B5 Touring. It also has the nicknames “Biturbo” and “Allrad”, but links all of that to the 4.4-liter V8. In doing so, Alpina does not take the very large optimization set in hand, as it did with the B3. The eight-cylinder is not the sporty refined S63 unit, as it is in the M5 or in the M8, the more civil N63 from the M550i works here.

From its 530 hp, the technicians use larger chargers and other tricks to make a respectable 621 hp – only four horses less than in the M5 Competition. 800 Newton meters ensure superior thrust at all times. And like a class below, the Alpina adds another 50 Nm to the value of the BMW M top model.

Alpina B5 Touring

The large main screen sits in the B5 cockpit on the dashboard.


In the interior, the B5 inspires with a pinch more pampering aroma. Our test car flatters with merino leather and knotless long-distance chairs. No racetrack can do that due to a lack of lateral support, but that’s not what a B5 is built for. Superior travel comfort and demonstrations of power in terms of longitudinal dynamics are his hobbies. And yes, on the way to the Sachsenring we can attest to him: job done with flying colours.

Grace Alpina B5

The grace with which it takes the shock out of transverse joints, how cleanly it irons out bends and compressions even at speeds in excess of 250 km/h – phenomenal. No shaking, no rocking, nothing. His little brother is a bit more nervous; the B3 just has a fundamentally more agile nature. But what we can chalk up to him as negative here, he turns into a positive on the race track.

Alpina B5 Touring

Eight cylinders, 4.4 liter displacement, dual charging. The engine in the B5 pushes like there’s no tomorrow.


A clear picture emerges on the Sachsenring: Sector 1 belongs to the beefy eight-cylinder, but especially in the winding second sector, the B3 literally knocks its massive brother in the face. 87 hundredths in around 25 seconds are worlds. But the B5 always hits back when it comes to performance development.

In sector three, up the hill behind the Omega, into the Linkskuppe and then vehemently down to the kart track, he regains almost half a second. In sector four there is almost a tie; at the top speed measuring point, the B5 writes more at 5.8 km/h. Until then, the two-tonner is still ahead, but in the last sector, especially in the narrow Queckenberg-Links, the B3 gains a decisive 18 hundredths before both roar towards the start/finish. 1:37.42 to 1:37.62 seconds it is after almost 3.7 kilometers.

It has to go forward

To classify: A Lamborghini Urus drives almost half a second faster, Audi’s RS 4 Avant just nine hundredths. Interesting detail: The B8 Gran Coupé is also in exactly this time corridor with a time of 1:37.43 s.

But as already said: The lateral dynamics are only a by-catch in Alpina models. It has to go forward. And here both have no deficits. However, the B5 lets the driver’s brain slosh back and forth noticeably more intensely – you get a little dizzy at the start of the launch.

Alpina B3 and B5 Touring

Two touring tails with room to dream: The B3 loads 500 to 1510 liters, the B5 even 560 to 1700 liters.


3.3 seconds to 100 – a tenth below the factory specification – and 10.8 to 200. Those are values ​​that we were talking about super athletes not too long ago. Incidentally, both slow down with the optional performance brake system. The 240 kilos of additional weight of the B5 are reflected in 0.9 meters more braking distance. From 200: almost a tie.

Conclusion

More space, more comfort, more performance. The B5 storms forward with vigour. But despite 159 hp less, the B3 is faster at the Sachsenring and corners more agile. Ultimately, the costs ensure him victory in an otherwise even duel.

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