First review: Alpina B3 Touring is more expensive than BMW M3 Competition, but is it better?

What is striking about the Alpina B3 Touring?

That Alpina is back in the Netherlands! Alpine? That’s the BMW tuner, isn’t it? Well, you better not say that to someone from this German brand. The Bavarian Alpina sees itself rather as a company full of clever minds who make fast BMWs even faster. But there are no ordinary spoilers in the form of cake servers or lowering sets. The technicians prefer to tinker with engines. Alpina is exclusive (less than 2000 cars are produced every year) and is proud of the design feature that makes you recognize the brand: the 20-spoke wheels.

Alpina supplies models based on the 3-series (B3 and diesel version D3), the 5-series (B5 and D5), the 6-series Gran Coupé (B8), the 7-series (B7), the X3 and X4 (XD3 and XD4) and the X7 (XB7). We drive the B3 Touring, the version of which Alpina has the highest expectations in the Netherlands.

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What is good about the Alpina B3 Touring?

Actually, we are broadening the question: why would you buy an Alpina B3 when you can also buy a BMW M3 Competition, which has the same chassis? As for the Touring, the answer is simple. BMW does not (yet) supply an M3 Touring. If you are looking for an extremely fast middle class station wagon, you will be driven into Alpina’s arms in no time.

Those who love technology and speed will love the B3. Alpina does not participate in the gentlemen’s agreement of the major German brands, so if you want, you can blast through to 300 km/h in one straight line with the B3 Touring. The sprint from 0 to 100 km/h is done in 3.9 seconds. The rear-wheel drive BMW M3 Competition is just as fast as a sprinter, but is limited to ‘only’ 250 km/h. The engine is the same: a three-liter biturbo six-cylinder, which in the case of the B3 Touring produces 462 hp (M3 Competition: 510 hp).

As mentioned, Alpina employs thoroughbred techies. They wanted the power build-up to be so smooth that you don’t get a push, even when the turbos come into play. In practice, the B3 Touring delivers on this with verve. Words like magnificent, sublime, endless and phenomenal quickly cross our minds. It’s a shame that the test drive took place in the Netherlands, because it’s so tempting to keep pressing the accelerator in the carpet and risk your driver’s license.

What could be better about the Alpina B3 Touring?

In fact, we should immediately get into a BMW M3 after the Alpina ride to notice the differences. Because is it really so different that you have to walk past the BMW dealer? The M-models of BMW itself are of course not a piece of cake. On the other hand, it is of course nice to drive a model that is exclusive in all respects: in terms of numbers sold, but also in terms of its price…

A more general point of criticism is that there are no concrete plans yet for Alpina’s with a plug. For the time being, there will be no fully electric Alpina and no plug-in hybrid. The Germans assure us that this has their attention. They have to, given the increasingly strict emission regulations…

When will the Alpina B3 Touring come to the Netherlands and what is the price?

The Alpina B3 Touring is already for sale, you can view it at the importer and BMW dealer Dusseldorp in The Hague and Apeldoorn. The price of the Alpina B3 Touring is 129,294 euros. For comparison: an M3 Competition costs 126,721 euros. That saves 2573 euros – a pittance, in this price range. You also get a larger trunk space in return.

What do I think of the Alpina B3 Touring?

To surpass a brand known for its formidable engines with even more formidable engines: Alpina does not make it easy for itself. And yet they succeed brilliantly. We rarely experienced such an even power build-up than that of the three-liter six-cylinder. Maybe never.

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