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The new Alpina B5 is a sublimely well-judged and deeply characterful performance saloon that delivers ample character, luxury and dynamism.

05 Sep 2019



It looks like a BMW, it has BMW badges, and it is mostly filled with BMW equipment and technology, but what you see here isn't technically a BMW. No, this is an Alpina. Specifically, the new Alpina B5 Bi-Turbo Saloon. Confused yet?

The new B5 is Alpina's answer to the BMW M5

Founded in 1965, Alpina distinguished itself as a tuning business, going about tuning BMW cars (and engines, specifically) for motorsport purposes. Since 1983, however, Alpina has been recognised by the German Federal Ministry of Transport as an automobile manufacturer, hence the Alpina-crafted cars are branded and registered as 'Alpina' instead of 'BMW'.

And, while the manufacturing process is integrated into BMW's production lines, Alpina stands out for its particular approach to building its cars, with a deep focus on luxury, personalisation, craftsmanship and performance.

Muscular yet fluid and subtle, the Alpina B5 is undeniably beautiful to look at

This B5, understandably, is based on the G30 5 Series - effectively, this is Alpina's answer to the BMW M5.

Killing me softly

Visually, the B5 doesn't immediately scream 'high-performance' (though it most definitely is). It trades the shouty air scoops and angular lines on the M5 for a much more subtle and restrained exterior design.

The 20-spoke 20-inch forged rims are an Alpina trademark look

And in our eyes, it really is quite beautiful. Muscular yet still fluid and graceful, the B5 is a gentler interpretation of performance. Of note are the 20-spoke wheels, a trademark look that makes this instantly recognisable as an Alpina for the more well-versed pertrolheads.  

Slide inside, and yes, it's recognisably a BMW 5 Series. You have the iDrive infotainment system with gesture control, the same gear knob, as well as the same buttons across the centre console and the rest of the cabin.

The pinstripes are a nod to Alpina's racing heritage, and is another must-have design option 

But, Alpina has imbued the cabin with its own unique touches to make it more special and luxurious. The digital dashboard has its own Alpina-specific design and colour scheme. The handcrafted Alpina steering wheel is made of Lavalina leather (the same leather used in Rolls-Royce cars), and features blue/green stitching. There's an individual production plaque on the centre console to remind you that you are driving something quite rare indeed.

And, there's a host of personalisation options when it comes to trimming. Our car came with an exquisite Walnut trim, and you can actually touch the rough cut wooden surface. And if that isn't enough customisation for you, you can use the online configurator and further personalise the car (there's a gigantic touchscreen in the Alpina showroom you can do this on).  

The dials on the Alpina Design Live Cockpit Professional are coloured in Alpina blue

A sweet song

Power up the 4.4-litre Bi-turbo V8 engine, and you are greeted by a surprisingly muted noise. But, don't be fooled. With uprated pistons, new Garrett turbochargers and a reworked air intake system (among other modifications), Alpina has uprated the engine to the tune of 600bhp and 800Nm of torque. This makes for a century sprint timing of 3.5 seconds.

And, it's not just power, either. The engine is one hell of a piece of kit. It's muscular and pulls like hell, but in a way that's always smooth, regulated and surprisingly benign. It's such a stark contrast to the M5. Where the M5's powertrain is spiky and vicious (peak torque at just 1,800rpm), the B5 is nothing of the sort.

A plaque on the centre console reminds you about the exclusiveness of your car

With peak torque at 3,000rpm, it's a much smoother and more modulated drive, though no less impressive in terms of power. And, it'll run all the way to its 330km/h top speed, because Alpinas all do away with electronic limiters (the M5 is limited to just 250km/h.)

But, focusing on the accelerative capability of the car (which it has in spades) is losing sight of what makes this Alpina special. No, where it truly excels is in comfort and refinement. Shockingly for a car with 600bhp, the B5 is comfortable.

You have several highly luxurious trim options, including this exquisite 'Alpina luxury wood Walnut nature'

And, not just comfortable. Sublimely comfortable. It has a 'Comfort Plus' setting, for god's sake. And even in its harshest setting (Sport Plus), the ride is still extremely supple and forgiving (we reckon more supple than the M5's most comfortable setting).

We also particularly enjoy how little effort it takes to urge the car to great speeds - the lightest of pressure on the accelerator, and the car wafts rapidly down the road. For a car with so much power on tap, the B5 is joyously easy-going to drive.

Alpina has tuned the 4.4-litre V8 engine to produce a whopping 600bhp and 800Nm of torque

Admittedly, it's not the sharpest car to drive. The soft suspension allows some body roll, and the steering doesn't allow the same vicious direction changes that the M5 is capable of. That said, the Alpina does deliver a more natural steering feel, and it's a joy to pilot when you're not viciously attacking corners. 

Sublime delight

Drive the B5 a couple of hours and its absolute charm grows on you. It's gentle, well-rounded and just rather exquisite. The M5 is a nuclear bomb on four wheels - angry, aggressive and attention-grabbing. The Alpina B5 is effortless and classy, whilst still being a consummate performance motor.

Alpina provides a high degree of customisation, including an embossed logo on the head rest

But the Alpina's greatest appeal is just how relaxing the whole experience is. That's something quite special and unique about the car's understated confidence - with the plethora of noisy and loud high-performance saloons out there, the Alpina B5 proves that there is another way to go about this particular formula of lumping a big engine into a big saloon.

Deeply accomplished, well-rounded and absolutely sublime to drive, the Alpina B5 is a car of unique and special character

Yes, by all measures Alpina is a tiny brand with an extremely niche appeal, especially in Singapore. But don't let that take away the sheer brilliance of its offerings, especially this new B5. It's a deeply special and highly rewarding car that deserves to be in the same conversation as the other super saloons in the market. Hell, we reckon it might be the one we'd have.

In one word? Sublime.
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Car Information

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BMW ALPINA B5 Bi-Turbo Saloon 4.4 V8 (A)
Rate it

Price

: $526,800

Engine Type

:

V8

Engine Cap

:

4395cc

Horsepower

:

447kW (599 bhp) / 6250 rpm

Torque

:

800 Nm / 5000 rpm

Transmission

:

8-speed (A) ZF

Acceleration (0-100 km/h)

:

3.5sec

Top Speed

:

330km/h

Fuel consumption

:

9.5 km/L

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bmw  bmw alpina  alpina  b5  b5 biturbo  alpina b5  alpina b5 bi-turbo  video