What is it?
It’s Alpina’s revised take on the BMW 335i. Two years after the Buchloe-based manufacturer showed what could be done with through its B5, it’s tweaked that car’s 3.0-litre, twin-turbocharged motor some more and come up with the B3 S.
The B3 S has 395bhp, almost 90bhp more than the current 335i, and 398lb ft of torque, a rise of more than 100lb ft. That means that even in convertible form – some 200kg heavier than the saloon – the B3 S will hit 62mph in 4.9sec and go on to an unrestricted 185mph.
What’s it like?
Very impressive indeed. The stats will tell you that this engine is turbocharged but it’s a master of deception when it comes to character.
Which is to say that it pulls smoothly, strongly and in a linear fashion; it offers 294lb ft all the way from 1300rpm to 6000rpm. And that the high end of the rev range it howls. The exhaust and intake mods that helped to free up the motor also allow it to sing more sweetly than any current BMW six-pot.
The chassis feels close to BMW’s set-up, although Alpina’s own lighter alloy wheels and the lack of runflats do give the B3 S a supple ride that’s pretty much unmatched by any 3-series, without any major sacrifice in body control.
Criticisms? Well, it’s not light – but then, neither is a regular 3-series convertible. We’d also like the option of a manual, and we wish the steering was a little lighter at low speeds for urban use. But that’s about it.
Should I buy one?
We’d be very tempted – although we’d probably look at the saloon, coupe or touring before we’d buy the heavier drop-top.
If you really must have the ‘ultimate’ 3-series then you’ll probably still buy an M3. But anyone who hankers after the old six-cylinder E46 version’s rasp – and there are plenty of you out there, we know – should give the B3 S a long, hard look.
Alpina B3 S Biturbo Convertible
Price: £55,250; Top speed: 185mph; 0-62mph: 4.9sec; Economy: 29.1mpg; CO2: 225g/km; Kerb weight: 1770kg; Engine: 6 cyls in line, 2979cc, twin-turbocharged, petrol; Power: 395bhp at 6000rpm; Torque: 398lb ft at 4500rpm; Gearbox: 6-spd auto