It’s easy to be captivated by the stylings of Alpina. With a history of extracting more performance out of some of BMW’s best models that dates back prior to the firm’s official 1965 founding, the Buchloe-based tuner (now a full manufacturer in Germany) has made something for everything. Even though the bulk of the model lineup has long been considered forbidden fruit on this side of the Atlantic (or Pacific, as plenty have been sold in Japan), American BMW enthusiasts still love the brand and what it offers.
What is that exactly? Expressed most simply, an alternative to BMW M. For the last 40 years or so, Alpina has offered a high performance equivalent to just about every M model (sometimes more than one), and has also waded into territory which M refuses, all while still prioritizing luxury. We’re talking about vehicles like the 7 Series and X7; of which Alpina-modified versions exist, even though there’s never been an M7, and there probably won’t be an X7 M.
The most recent example of something that really fits the enthusiast niche is the Alpina B3 Touring, which uses the same engine as the X3 and X4 M (the S58), for incredible power and performance. Perhaps most importantly, it’s also offered in wagon form—a flavor you’ve never been able to order an M3 in. BMW makes an M340i touring for the rest of the world, but the Alpina B3 easily outperforms it.
Now the German manufacturer is at it again, but this time with the G30 5 Series LCI. We haven’t seen the facelift F90 M5 yet (although BMWBlog recently came across some pre-production “official spy photos“), but it’s clear the Alpina B5 is based on the newly refined Five. BMW hasn’t sold a long roof version of the M5 since the E61, and before that, the E34 (and neither was available here). Alpina, on the other hand, has been selling touring versions of their specialized 5 Series for decades now. The newest one is the Alpina B5 Touring, and it has more torque than the current M5, and more horsepower than the Alpina B7 that you can actually buy in the U.S.
Explaining the benefits of station wagon ownership isn’t necessary here. BMW aficionados, specifically, have exhibited their love and enthusiasm for BMW sport wagons for a long time now, with E34 M5 touring valuations and the growing number of E46 sport wagon S54 swaps both speaking for themselves. What is important to point out, however, is that Alpina is building the model that BMW won’t, and more specifically, the one that is probably the safest bet in terms of bringing stateside.
The new Alpina B5 develops 621 horsepower from 5,500 to 6,500 rpm, and 590 pound-feet of torque from 2,000 to 5,000. A modified version of the BMW N63 V8 powerhouse is behind it all, and according to Alpina, together with a modified BMW xDrive system and a beefed up ZF eight-speed (8HP76) with Alpina switch-tronic, the wagon can sprint from zero-to-60 mph in at least 3.6 seconds (the sedan does it 3.4).
Right now, there are just two high-performance midsize wagons for sale in the U.S., and both are made by German auto manufacturers. The Audi RS6 Avant uses a 4.0-liter V8 to make 591 horsepower and 591 pound-feet of torque, and can hit 60 in 3.6 seconds, while the 2020 Mercedes-AMG E63 S Wagon (which also has a 4.0-liter V8) is good for 603 horsepower and 627 pound-feet of torque, and a 3.4-second zero-to-60 time.
Those numbers should sound familiar, because they’re all in the range of what the M5 and Alpina B5 are rated at. The current M5 offers 617 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque in Competition spec, while BMW’s torquiest model is the M760i, which makes 627 pound-feet of torque from its 6.6-liter V12—the same amount as the E63 S. You’re probably know where we’re going with this, but the Alpina B5 is the perfect answer the walloping wagon muscle coming out of Neckarsulm and Sindelfingen.
Should BMW bring the Alpina B5 to the U.S. market? We sure think so, because aside from all of the numbers lining up nicely, the Alpina brand is the perfect limited-production avenue with which to market a niche model like a 600-horsepower station wagon. It’s already been confirmed that the B5 won’t be coming here, but it we haven’t stopped dreaming. They did bring the Alpina B6 here, after all.—Alex Tock
[Photos courtesy ALPINA Burkard Bovensiepen GmbH + Co. KG.]