Buchloe bids auf wiedersehen to G30 5 Series with its most powerful creation yet

Between now and 2026, when BMW takes the reins, Alpina will make fewer than 6000 cars. And after that, nobody outside of either company truly knows what will happen.

There’s a fair chance that Munich will leverage Buchloe’s reputation for lavish interiors and general bespokery to create a neat stepping stone between M and Rolls-Royce, but whether the cars will continue to be so assiduously honed in mechanical terms is less certain. I wouldn’t bet on it, because with the Bovensiepen family out of the picture, profit will probably take precedence. 

Alpina B5 GT

Of those 6000 cars to come, only a tiny portion will be a B5 super-saloon. This model is based on the existing and outgoing M550i but is taken to serious heights in performance and breadth by Alpina's 100 or so engineers. The B5 (historically called the B10) tends to be the flag-bearer for Alpina because it best encapsulates the brand’s approach: crushingly quick and delightful to live with but not one to shout about it. 

The current model is no different. Supercar-fast in a straight line but limousine-slick in its ride quality, it doesn’t change direction like BMW's M5 does but has more than good enough body control, adjustability and steering precision that you would happily take the more interesting way home every time. It's an exceptional all-rounder.

Which brings us to the new B5 GT, a car that is everything the regular B5 is, and a little bit more. In many ways, this special model is not only a sign-off for Alpina’s fine involvement with the G30 5 Series but a £125k valedictory firework for the company’s entire six-decade history of building cars based on new BMWs. 

Only 250 will be made, mostly in Touring estate form, and all are already sold. Deliveries will start later this year, but if you’re one of the 80 or so who have optioned the full Lavalina leather interior, you may well be waiting until the end of 2024, as Buchloe’s ‘saddlery’ can’t rush things.

Mechanically, the B5 GT is mostly unchanged from the usual B5 (now no longer offered), but a new intake and an electronic tickle have lifted the output of the twin-turbocharged 4.4-litre petrol V8 from 612bhp to 625bhp, making this the most powerful car in Alpina’s history. Official top speed is 205mph, but unofficially the car hits a true 220mph.

However, what gives this car such outrageous mid-range, real-world performance – outrageous enough for it to feel not at all impotent even on the expanse of an FIA Grade 1 circuit like Zandvoort, where we have it – is the torque. From 3500rpm, this car makes 13% more than the M5 CS, at 627lb ft. That's about as much as Aston's recent DBS 770 Ultimate.

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The chassis has also been honed to give the B5 GT a little more edge, but with care taken, says Alpina, to preserve its absorptive qualities. To this end, the spring and damper rates are unchanged (likewise the calibration of the active anti-roll bars and the rear-steering), but the GT gets new bumpstops that improve body control but only do so in demanding circumstances.

Ride height has been dropped a touch at the back and the torque-split is more rear-biased. In theory, the result is a car subtly more willing to rotate through bends, and while you would be hard pressed to feel the difference even with back-to-back testing, at Zandvoort the B5 GT is playful but without ever being a handful. Amusingly for what you might consider a highly cultured machine, you can unstick the tail at will, catching it then being an intuitive act, as the steering is perfectly sped (the B5 GT also gets new struts between the front suspension domes and the bulkhead, for added stiffness and precision).

Alpina B5 GT

Helping you along in matters of traction and, if you like, oversteer is the B5 GT’s limited-slip differential. As with the regular B5, it's a purely mechanical, plated affair from motorsport experts Drexler, and is arguably more transparent than the electronically controlled differential found in the an M5, at least during breakaway. 

Equally, carry too much speed and this 1980kg saloon bleeds gently into understeer more readily than an equivalent M car would, so with the B5 GT’s monstrous speed also comes a fundamental benignness and stability. On the road, it will be easy to drive fast. A run down a less-than-beautifully surfaced access track also gave us no concerns about plushness. 

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As for how you identify a B5 GT, the gold-bronze wheels are the big giveaway. A little incongruous are the dive planes you will also find at the front, while inside there’s the option of having M5-spec front seats trimmed in Alcantara and the aluminium shift-paddles are finished in Marron Volciano. 

The overall effect is subtle, and the B5 GT is no M5 CS-style extravaganza. However, it’s an appropriate finale for what will go down as one of the great super-saloons. 

Alpina B5 GT


Richard Lane

Richard Lane
Title: Deputy road test editor

Richard joined Autocar in 2017, arriving from Evo magazine, and is typically found either behind a keyboard or steering wheel.

As deputy road test editor he delivers in-depth road tests, performance benchmarking and supercar lap-times, plus feature-length comparison stories between rival cars. He can also be found on Autocar's YouTube channel

Mostly interested in how cars feel on the road – the sensations and emotions they can evoke – Richard drives around 150 newly launched makes and models every year, and focuses mainly on the more driver-orientated products, as is tradition at Autocar. His job is then to put the reader firmly in the driver's seat. 

Away from work, but remaining on the subject of cars, Richard owns an eight-valve Integrale, loves watching sportscar racing, and holds a post-grad in transport engineering. 

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405line 7 July 2023

You can taste the engineering depth in Alpina, not just a load of barn door engineering or a load of crude boy racer add-ons. They also (eventually) helped out the German E39 chap so big thumbs up and kudos to Alpina.

p.s I thought the XM could/should have been badged as an Alpina to put them on the map.

Overdrive 5 July 2023
If only I had the money..... I still wouldn't be able to buy one, seeing as they are all sold out!
Peter Cavellini 7 July 2023
Overdrive wrote:

If only I had the money..... I still wouldn't be able to buy one, seeing as they are all sold out!

. Trading on a reputation?, there are other coach builders who produce a product just as good for probably a lot more because there are people out there with the where with all and cost doesn't matter, it's the exclusiveness,and the car doesn't do anything vastly better,and Alpina just want you to buy their product purely on company history.