What is it?
Its maker would probably tell you the B3 Touring is the only car you’re ever likely to need.
In fairness, this isn't an outrageous claim. The new Alpina B3 Touring represents a thorough going-over of the already impressive BMW M340i Touring, though even this description sells it somewhat short.
Alpina’s aim is to create something just as quick as an M3 in the real world but with appreciably better road manners and easier drivability, not to mention far less aggravated looks. Obviously something has to give, and in the case of the B3, that something is track-day aptitude – the hard edge of control and anger that M-division wares need to have.
But when was the last time you took your estate car for some hard laps?
The B3 – both in Touring and saloon forms – is unashamedly set up for the road, and while Alpina does some fine-tuning work at the Nürburgring (ABS tuning etc), it mainly tests on German country routes. And of course the autobahn, where its fastest conversions now top 200mph.
The modifications for the B3 include altered suspension geometry for more natural steering feel and stability at very high speeds. There’s also upgraded brakes, Alpina’s unmissable wheel-and-tyre package, some aero addenda, and specific tuning for the rear limited-slip differential and the division of drive between the front and rear axles.
That’s right: the B3 now comes only with four-wheel drive, which might disappoint some, though the truth is that rear-wheel drive isn’t so popular among owners of these ‘everyday supercars’, especially in Alpina’s home market. There’s also the small matter of stability and traction, not least because of what now lurks in the car’s engine bay.
This is the first time the B3 has ever used an adapted version of an M-division engine instead of the ‘ordinary’ six-cylinder found in more commonplace 3 Series derivatives. The S58, which serves in the X3M and will soon appear in the M4 and M4, takes the form of a 2993cc twin-turbo unit, though Alpina fits its own turbine housings and comprehensively beefs up the cooling apparatus.
The result is 456bhp and 516lb ft – the latter being the reason why the car’s eight-speed ZF gearbox and driveshafts have been reinforced. By comparison, the M3 Competition that we’ll get here in the UK makes 503bhp but only 469lb ft, and so the two cars have an identical 0-62mph time of 3.8sec.