From £51,3509

To truly appreciate the new Alpina B3 Biturbo, it’s necessary to distinguish it carefully from BMW’s own extraordinarily gifted 3 Series line-up – hence the substantially higher list price.

It looks expensive if you don't compare it to the M3 to measure up to, especially given that a new 340i or 330d can be had for just over £40k. However, on the road, neither could be considered a match for the B3.

The B3 makes for a relaxed, comfortable motorway cruiser

Both are a country mile behind the Biturbo’s output, and even BMW’s superb 3.0-litre diesel engine is unable to reproduce the almighty tug Alpina has coaxed from its powerplant above 3000rpm.

Extend that line of thinking out to take in the rest of the B3’s rivals and it’s a similar story. An Audi RS4 Avant is in the ballpark but is similarly deficient on torque and not nearly as comfortable.

A Mercedes-AMG C 63 finally outmuscles the B3, as does the defunct Jaguar XFR, but because one has the displacement of an oil drum and the other a supercharger, they chew huge amounts of fuel, while Alpina quotes a deeply impressive 37.2mpg combined. On our touring run we clocked 35.4mpg – some 11mpg better than the Mercedes managed over the same distance.

Underpinning that figure, and trumping everything in sight, is a remarkably low CO2 figure. Emissions may be lower down the buying criteria at this level, but delivering 177g/km means low VED costs. It also renders the B3 a palatable company car option.

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