Arguably the most relevant high performance saloon in the world right now, and surprisingly well priced beside rivals to boot

Our Verdict

Alpina D5
The D5's styling is less heavy handed than that of the BMW M5

In its own way, the Alpina D5 feels every bit as monstrous as what’s on offer in the latest BMW M5

  • First Drive

    Alpina D5 Bi-Turbo

    Arguably the most relevant high performance saloon in the world right now, and surprisingly well priced beside rivals to boot
5 February 2012

What is it?

The new Alpina D5 Bi-Turbo is ‘the meanest green car on the planet,’ according to the manufacturer. Which is a fair enough assumption to make, given that the car has 345bhp, a whopping 516lb ft of torque and can hit 62mph in 5.1sec before bludgeoning its way to a top speed of 171mph.

But the numbers that distinguish the Alpina D5 as something a little bit different to the hoards of other high performance German mega-saloons, are these; 155g/km and 47.9mpg. Not too many years ago such meagre emissions and fine economy statistics would have been the preserve of a decently competitive supermini. Now you can get them with supercar-slaying performance as well. In our book that makes the D5 one of, if not THE most relevant performance saloon cars of the moment.

And while we’re talking numbers, how does a list price of just £55,950 grab you? Alpina thought long and hard about its pricing strategy for the UK, and in the end decided to go as lean as possible – on the basis that until BMW’s own ultra-high performance diesels go on sale, the D5 will have the market virtually to itself.

So Alpina didn’t want to put potential customers off with a sky high asking price. Quite the opposite, in fact, yet the basic specification of the car remains excellent, with top quality leather, sports seats, xenon headlights and Parking Distance Control all appearing as standard.

What’s it like?

On the road you can tell that the D5 has been touched by Alpina’s magicians pretty much from the moment it starts to move. The car’s standard fit electronic dampers have been retuned to offer a far wider variety of set ups, so Comfort + offers a more soothing ride than in a regular 5-series, while at the other extreme Sport + becomes firmer and more aggressive.

In any of its settings, however, the D5 somehow manages to feel fluid and in tune with the road in a way that the standard car never quite replicates. Partly that’s down to the tyres, which are non-runflat Michelin Pilot Supersports (the same as those fitted to the M5); partly it’s a result of Alpina’s retuning of the springs and dampers. Either way, it enables the D5 to glide along UK roads in a way that the 535D (which forms the basis for the D5) can’t compete with.

And what separates the D5 even more obviously, not just from a 535d but any other car we’ve ever driven with a diesel engine beneath its bonnet, is what happens when you put your foot down and hold it there. The initial response isn’t quite in the same league as an M5, as the 2993cc straight six takes a great big breath through its two turbos before the moment of the truth arrives. But when it does, wow, the D5 lunges towards the horizon as if it’s being dragged there by a higher force.

Should I buy one?

The flood of torque, allied to the speed with which the eight-speed Switchtronic gearbox (also retuned by Alpina) picks off gears provides the D5 with a unique style of performance, one that in its way feels every bit as monstrous as what’s on offer in the latest M5. And it does 47mpg.

Alpina D5 Bi-Turbo

Price: £55,950; Top speed: 171mph; 0-62mph: 5.1sec; Economy: 47.9mpg combined; Co2: 155g/km; Kerbweight: 1865kg; Engine type: straight six, 2993cc, twin-turbodiesel; Installation: longitudinal, front, rear wheel-drive; Power: 345bhp/4000rpm; Torque: 516lb ft/1500-3000rpm; Gearbox: 8-speed Switchtronic auto

Join the debate

Comments
45

DKW

6 February 2012

I'd take one with some snow socks. Can you get these things serviced at an ordinary BMW dealer? Also, I thought I'd heard that the super diesel saloons weren't coming to the UK, which would leave Alpina in a good position. I had been concerned for their future as BMW have now filled pretty much every niche, including learning how to make run-flats ride well. Perhaps Alpina could offer a manual where BMW do not.

6 February 2012

[quote DKW]Can you get these things serviced at an ordinary BMW dealer?[/quote]

Yes.

6 February 2012

Looks like Alpina are trying to cash in before BMW release the '50d' engine. I don't blame 'em!

6 February 2012

Very nice indeed. Now if the M5 has any car to fear it's not the GT-R; it's this.

Nearly as fast in day to day driving, far better economy and emissions, better riding and 20 grand cheaper to the bargain than the M5.

6 February 2012

Yep, sounds great, driving nirvana,and not too eye watering a price either, performance, good mpg , and cheap road tax,just don't have the loose change just now......mmm.

Peter Cavellini.

6 February 2012

are we actually getting the 550d?

Either way there never seems to be much logic in determining which BMWs we get in the UK (e.g. none of the diesels in the E38 7-Series were ever on sale here).

6 February 2012

Came back from Germany in it just before Christmas. It is great, 170mph on the autobahn and it did 34 mpg on the way back, going pretty quickly. Got 48.2 mpg out of it on a long run the other day too - 185 miles. Great car to do a long journey in.

6 February 2012

oh, 350 bhp too, not 340 bhp

6 February 2012

Looks awesome. If ever a car needed a decent test to figure out real-world mpg though, it must be this...I'd guess more like 30mpg under cut-and-thrust driving, using some of the performance..

6 February 2012

Consider practically, here in the UK would this car offer any real-world advantage over living day to day with a 535d? I know Alpina ride quality is renowned to be exemplary compared to M-cars but other than that surely, performance, economy and use-ability in a 535d are plenty!! Also putiing bias aside (an I am traditionally a Merc man) can anyone feed back what is better to live with day-today, a 535d or Merc e350cdi? Only asking because I ran a CLS320cdi for 3 years and loved every moment of it with performance to burn and a lovely everyday drive. I'd like to go back to that category of car soon but some objective views would be appreciated.

Common sense does not always prevail!

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