What is it?
You’re looking at the latest tuned-up BMW 3-series to be produced by renowned BM-fettlers Alpina; this is the new B3.
On paper it’s a tweaked version of the already rather rapid BMW 335i, with a 360bhp twin turbo straight six engine and six-speed automatic gearbox. In reality, though, it’s probably the forthcoming BMW M3’s most serious rival.
The B3 is likely cost £44,000 when it goes on sale at the end of the year (at least two grand less than the new V8 M3) and come – as standard – with what Alpina GB describes as “the sort of spec our owners expect.” That translates as an automatic transmission, a full leather interior, satellite navigation, Bluetooth pre-connect, you name it.
The B3 Biturbo may lack two cylinders and 54bhp compared with the new M3 but it has much more torque (368lb ft versus 295lb ft) and isn’t restricted by a speed limiter. So the zero to 60mph claims are all but identical at 4.8sec for the M3 and 4.9sec for the B3, while the top speeds are 155mph (M3) and 180mph (B3).
Chassis-wise the B3 is way softer than the M3 is likely to be, and that’s an entirely deliberate decision on Alpina’s behalf. Apart from its 19in wheel and bespoke Michelin Pilot Sport tyres (235/35 at the front, 265/30 at the rear), the B3 is virtually identical to a 335i Sport in set up, and is none the worse for that.
The only obvious omission is the absence of any form of limited slip diff from the B3’s spec sheet. The B3’s open item makes for poorer traction on less than perfect surfaces, and rules out the two hundred yard power slides you will be able to pull off in the new M3, with it’s awesome M-diff. Which is a pity, but also perhaps a good indicator of the greater maturity of the B3’s typical driver.
What’s it like?
By rewriting the software for the engine and gearbox management, and fitting stronger Mahle pistons, Alpina has turned the already very rapid 335i into an absolute monster, but a very well behaved one at that. That’s because, on the road, there’s nothing remotely unruly about the B3’s performance.