SOMETIMES you wonder why brands like Alpina exist.
Theirs is a niche product that has DNA that is not remarkably different from its BMW roots, unless you get up close to it.
The stickers — if they are present — may give it away, or the branding on the front bumper spoiler. The rear quad exhausts are a nice touch, but the “ALPINA B5 BITURBO” stuck on the boot lid lacks subtlety and is probably worth dropping.
The internal appointments and the details within the cabin are more refined, a bit more exclusive and more geared towards a sportier mindset.
But the true test of the Alpina is behind the wheel, when you have all that power delivered in measured doses that make for a hugely entertaining experience.
The Alpina B5 Bi-Turbo V8, while packed with eager horses that can kick up 800Nm of torque, is never out of sorts. Whether you’re pushing hard or negotiating twists there’s an unflappability about it that affords you the confidence to keep pushing your (and the car’s) limits.
While you’re unlikely to sniff the 330kmh top speed on local roads and highways, that’s not the point of having an Alpina. What it presents is a unique propsition.
Only a few units are built, and they are presented with some panache.
From a customised plate on the centre console to special Nappa Mokka leather and luxury wood trims, you get a grip on a well-padded steering wheel and views of indigo blue dials with red needles. The contrasts work well together to create a plush cabin that puts you in a good frame of mind.
In the case of this test drive, the red wood veneer added colour to the cabin.
The connected features allow you to stay in touch with your all-important mobile, while a Harman Kardon surround sound system keeps pumping out the groove to move to.
The feel of being in the Alpina is akin to a high-end BMW of the same model, elevated a few notches. And with the equipment loaded on you enjoy a ride that is comfortable as it is engaging.
Regardless of drive mode, you find it easy to run fast and free or slow in the city. There isn’t the impatience of some powerful engines when it comes to the city crawl, and parking is easy with the 360° view which is displayed on the dashboard.
For those with the desire to get a BMW but with a difference, the Alpina doesn’t shout for your attention, it quietly draws you in.
BMW ALPINA B5 BITURBO RATING
Engine: V8, 90°
Max Power: 447kW@5,750 – 6,250rpm
Max Torque: 800Nm@ 3,000 – 5,000rpm
Transmission: 8-speed sport automatic
0-100kmh: 3.5 seconds
Top Speed: 330kmh
Retail price: *$458,800 (indent); $535,800 (stock)
Please reconfirm price with dealer.
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