More than 460 horsepower and 500 pound-feet of torque routed to the pavement through all four wheels. Enough space with the seats down to haul a small refrigerator home from the store. Sharp looks courtesy of the G21 wagon which are enhanced by way of quad exhaust pipes and a choice of two great wheel designs. ZF’s awesome eight-speed auto (Switch-Tronic as Alpina markets it) which will allow for blistering acceleration or nearly 30 mpg on the highway and 24 combined. If you need one vehicle in which you can truly do it all, it’s tough to beat the new Alpina B3 Touring.
Specific performance figures including a top speed and zero-to-60 time haven’t been released yet, and of course you won’t be able to buy one in the U.S., but that hasn’t prevented us from salivating. While BMW’s other German competitors are catering to the station wagon segment with some of the most potent specimens ever created, Markus Flash recently made it clear that M has no plans to build any of their own. This is where Alpina comes in with the their renewed effort in the entry-level sport wagon segment in the form of the potent B3 Touring.
Approximately a year after we first saw official photos of the seventh-generation 3 Series, internally referred to as the G20, people seem to warming up to the design as they find themselves sitting in traffic next to one. In June of this year, BMW followed up with the launch of the G21 wagon, which looks sharp in any trim, but especially so in M Sport with more aerodynamic bumpers, a distinct rear diffusor, and neat wheels. Naturally, Alpina has taken their own path with the B3 Touring, adhering to the Buchloe-based tuning house’s (now considered a fully-fledged auto manufacturer) tradition of building incredibly powerful and capable versions of BMWs best models, which cater to a different buyer who prioritizes luxury over all-out performance, but without too much sacrifice of the latter.
Choosing to go without the optional gold or silver Alpina striping, the B3 Touring still maintains a distinct presence thanks to its model-specific aero kit which takes the form of bumpers and side skirts. The front end has an especially menacing look to it, which seems appropriate given a power rating that eclipses the outgoing M3 by a safe margin.
The Alpina sport suspension drops things by a noticeable amount, while Variable Damper Control is present with three modes which are purposefully different from those in conventional BMWs; Comfort+, Comfort, and Sport. Variable sport steering is also there with identical settings, but we’re more concerned with the hardware itself. Brakes use four-piston calipers finished in Alpina Blue all around, which clamp down on 395mm and 345mm lightweight, drilled rotors front and rear. Framing the brakes are nineteen by 8.5- and 9.5-inch wide wheels that can be had in two designs; a star-spoke set that look like they take heavy influence from those worn by the Z8-based Alpina V8 Roadster, and a set in the signature Alpina multi-spoke look.
Press images show a rather unassuming interior, but leather is untreated Lavalina, while full options and amenities are present such as Live Cockpit Professional with a specific Aplina Blue color scheme and a wifi hotspot among much more. The heated and nicely structured steering wheel looks like a great way to interface with the car, and Alpina offers an almost limitless array of color options, trim, and other forms of customization, for a truly unique experience. Don’t forget about storage capacity, either. There’s room for five, and in the standard configuration with the rear seats up, eighteen cubic feet of storage. Fold them down, and you have more than 53 cubic feet at your disposal.
Above all though, it is the powertrain that really makes the B3 a form of the ultimate all-rounder. Based on the current G21 3 Series Touring which features a B58 six-cylinder good for 382 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque in its most powerful form, the B3 Touring makes do with 462 horsepower from 5,000 to 7,000 rpm, and 516 pound-feet of torque in the range of 3,000 to 4,250 from the S58 M inline-six of the X3 and X4 M, and the upcoming next-generation M3 and M4. It isn’t merely a stock S58 though, as although it’s detuned, improvements come in the form of a re-engineered biturbo setup, which makes use of flow-optimized turbine housings, optimized cross-sections in the air intake system, and a large air intake housing—there’s also a beefed up cooling system to cope with the added stress. This is among a few times that Alpina has used an M engine as a basis for modification, and is the first non SUV application for the S58. All of that motivation is put to the pavement through a tuned version of xDrive and a ZF eight-speed automatic specially modified for the application and equipped with Alpina’s Switch-Tronic manual shifting capability.
Alpina says the B3 Touring can reach speeds in excess of 300 kmh, or more than 186 mph. We can’t wait to learn just how fast the new M-powered sport wagon is, and above all, wish BMW would sell something like it here.—Alex Tock
[Photos courtesy ALPINA Burkard Bovensiepen GmbH + Co. KG.]