In the UK, we don’t drive anything like as fast and the back seats of this particular B4 S are as virginal as the day they were upholstered in Buchloe. I’ve therefore set the pressures to 44psi (well, maybe a smidge less) at the front and 38psi at the rear: figures communicated to us unofficially, but nevertheless what the chassis engineers recommend for one passenger with luggage. I won’t say the effect has been revelatory, because the car rode remarkably well as it was, but the front axle now gets greater purchase with the road and rolls along with an oily slickness. Counterintuitively, the balance is also a bit more oversteery, particularly in the wet – no bad thing, so long as you’re up for it. Overall, the car’s ride and handling mix now feels as though it’s sitting in a sweet spot, and because this is an Alpina, that spot is very sweet indeed.
Exhaust note It’s unexpectedly fierce once the valves open at around 3000rpm; deadened a touch by the turbos, but an addictive straight-six snarl.
Chunky airbag Thin-rimmed wheel is a delight to hold, but the airbag looks too chunky. Thing is, the racy M-car alternative would look out of place.
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Life with an Alpina B4 S: Month 3
Last week, it was 201mph in our McLaren. This week’s 201mph run is courtesy of Alpina - 19th June 2019
Can we agree that many comparison tests are predictable affairs? Any new hot hatch will go to Wales with a mob of its peers, any new limousine will lose to an S-Class, and so on. Equally, some of these contests are much more oblique and all the more intriguing for it. They brew up in your brain unsolicited, ready to break out at a time when you almost certainly won’t have a pen to hand. Like on the autobahn.
Our B4 S has been back to mainland Europe, serving as rapid transit between a reporting job at Ford’s Lommel proving ground in Belgium (believe me when I say the new Focus ST will be worth the wait), Cologne airport and the Nürburgring, where we drove some other interesting cars you’ll hear about soon. It was 1000 miles in four days, much of it on the fastest public roads on the planet but with enough rat runs through the Ardennes and Eifel to relieve any itch for hard cornering. It was a perfect mission for our long-termer.
It reminded me of a similar trip in a Ferrari 575M Maranello – a manual in Tour de France blue with the Fiorano handling pack, so doubtless worth many billions of pounds by now. I mention it because although the Italian car has double the cylinder count of the Alpina, the similarities are striking elsewhere. Each is purely rear driven, each weighs 1690kg, and although the Ferrari is shorter, lower and wider, you wouldn’t know it unless you parked the pair abreast.
With 508bhp, the 575 makes a little more power, but because the Alpina is twin-turbocharged (BMW’s N55 block is recast to take the additional turbo), it wins the battle for torque, and so the official 0-62mph times are a dead heat at 4.2sec.
Surely, though, it’s no contest on the autobahn? Well, the slippery Ferrari’s claimed top speed is 202mph but our Alpina nailed an indicated 201mph on the deathly quiet stretch of the A1 that begins at Kradenbach, so you can forgive me for calling honours even.