You mean BMW Alpina?
We do, because the Buchloe-based manufacturer has to feature the blue and white propeller badge on all its cars. Although Alpina is considered a manufacturer in its own right, that’s just how the deal with BMW works. And the self-proclaimed ‘manufacturer of exclusive automobiles’ unveiled three new cars at Frankfurt. There were more powerful versions of the B5 and B6, plus a new B3 cabrio.
B6, eh? You mean they make vitamins?
Nope, those are Alpina’s model designations: you may not have even heard of them before as Alpina doesn’t advertise. So B3 is a 3-series and the cabrio unveiled at Frankfurt featured the 3.0-litre twin-turbo straight six from the 335i. Add in a few Alpina tweaks and power is up to a still relatively unstressed 355bhp (from 306bhp). However it’s the 369lb ft from 3800-5000rpm that makes this car an M3-baiter. That V8 Three only has 295lb ft. And you can get the B3 as an auto too. If wind in your hair motoring isn’t your thing then try the saloon, which has beaten the M3 saloon to the market. Unfortunately neither Alpina nor BMW looks set to build a Touring estate version of their hot 3-series.
What about these other Bs? How about a B2?
Nope, but a B5 S and B6 S were unveiled at Frankfurt. The ‘S’ designation means that these cars have had tweaks to their supercharged 4.4-litre V8s. Power is up from 493bhp to 523bhp. Torque has also climbed a few points to 535lb ft, just to keep the M5 honest. Expect such tweaks to reach the B7 soon.
Alpina call themselves a ‘manufacture of exclusive automobiles’? Bit cocky…
Not a bit of it. Just 1400 or so cars are built each year, and that makes them more exclusive than Ferrari, Aston Martin, or the likes of AMG. At Frankfurt the Alpina stand was between Porsche and Rolls-Royce to give you some idea of their status. And you get the best of both worlds at Alpina. The main assembly of the cars occurs on BMW’s regular production lines, before they’re finished by hand at Alpina’s HQ.
What else should I know about Alpina?
Alpina has been making full road cars for 29 years and each model takes about four years to develop because the company is so small. That’s why there’s no Alpina Mini as way back when no one predicted a £25k hatch would sell… By the way, the blue and gold stitching inside is gorgeous. And thankfully those graphics are optional. Apparently take up in Britain and Germany is near zero. In Japan they're a must. In gold…