The Alpina B3 is coming to Australia in both sedan and wagon and wears a pretty sharp price tag. And packs BMW’s wickedly powerful S58 straight-six…
German tuner Alpina is going through a little local renaissance, with the B3 joining the B5 later in 2020. There are a number of reasons why this is exciting.
As you may (or may not) know, Alpina enjoys a very close relationship with BMW. Each car wearing the distinctive red and blue shield is built by the German giant with the smaller tuner adding its own flavour. And chassis number.
The first reason the B3 is exciting is that it’s the first passenger car with the B58. While the X4 M already runs that extraordinary engine, the Alpina is the first 3 Series to go on sale with one on board. So yeah, it’s beating the M3 to market.
Secondly, BMW has no plans for an M3 Touring, so if you’re keen on this kind of power in a wagon, you’ll have to buy an Alpina.
How much is an Alpina B3 and what do I get?
Sedan: $142,900 (plus on-roads)
Wagon: $145,900 (plus on-roads)
At this C63-beating price you get 19-ionch alloys, 16-speaker harmon kardon stereo, Live Cockpit digital dash and 10.25-inch iDrive touchscreen with BMW OS 7.0, head up display, keyless entry and start, adaptive LEDs, leather everywhere, variable rack steering, auto parking, and a comprehensive safety package.
To that lot Alpina adds blue and green stitching to the steering wheel, various Alpina badging and embossing, a body kit with Alpina lettering in the front splitter, rear spoiler, brakes, and floor mats.
And this is a first – proper gearshift paddles instead of the weird buttons of previous Alpinas.
Alpina sets to work on the standard BMW chassis and…softens it. No, really. This is where the car really departs from the M3. While that thing will be a bone-shaking track weapon (can’t wait), the B3 turns the dial to Comfort. Literally, as it turns out, because instead of M-style modes you get a Comfort+ mode, which you don’t get in a BMW M car.
The B3 rolls on those distinctive multi-spoke alloys, with Pirelli P-Zero tyres stamped with ALP. While it will be a rocket in a straight line and, in Sport modes very much like the M340i, Comfort+ offers a completely different experience. Well, I imagine it will, because it does in the B5.
Alpina fits its own front pivot joints to extract more negative camber for better grip and steering response. The company also fits Eibach springs that work with the three-stage variable dampers.
The B3’s brakes measure 395mm at the front and 345mm at the rear, with four-piston calipers up front and floating piston calipers at the back.
As ever, Alpina takes delivery of an S58-powered 3 Series and fits its own turbos, cooling system, exhaust and ECU. The company’s engineers also get to work on the ZF eight-speed’s calibration and the xDrive all-wheel drive system.
If you’ve forgotten, the S58 spins up 375kW and 600Nm in the X4 M. Alpina dials back to the power to 340kW (I bet a dyno somewhere will find a bit more) but sends the torque northwards to 700Nm. Max power is available from 5000-7000rpm while peak torque arrives at 3000rpm and hangs around until 4250rpm.
Alpina reckons that the B3 will crack 100km/h in 3.8 seconds for the sedan and 3.9 seconds for the Touring. That’s pretty quick.
Claimed economy weighs in at 11.1L/100km. I got that in the twin-turbo V8-powered B5 Touring, so that looks quite gettable.
Alpina Australia expects the first cars to roll off the BMW line in May, shipped off to Buchloe for treatment and then on a boat for late Q3 2020 arrival (TBC).
Peter Anderson is the Editor and founder of the theredline.com.au. He’s been writing about cars for years and finds it difficult to talk about anything else.