It’s not often that Porsche does favours for its German car-making rivals, but in the case of the Alpina XD3 compact SUV the famous sports car maker seems to have done just that.
By withdrawing its Macan diesel from sale, Porsche has left the field open for Alpina, builder of 'optimised' performance versions of BMWs since 1962, to claim that it builds the market’s fastest diesel SUV available. For a base price of £57,900 — or £70,135 with options (wheels, paint, glass sunroof, big brakes) in the case of our test car — you get a compact yet spacious version of BMW’s X3 that can run a 0-62mph sprint in just 4.9 seconds, and run onwards to the usual governed top speed of 155mph in very short order.
The XD3 recipe is classic Alpina. A very recognisable BMW X3 gets a special bumper-spoiler at the front, a unique rear valence incorporating quad exhausts that look very businesslike. Alpina’s usual stripery adorns the flanks of what is already a much more handsome SUV than the previous model, Alpina badges join the BMW identification front and rear, and the whole thing rolls on a set of 22in wheels and ultra-low-profile tyres.
Actually, the standard wheels are 20s, but given that radical wheels and tyres are very much an Alpina trademark, which owners wouldn’t pay the extra £1820 and opt for the Alpina Classic 22s? Especially when they’re wearing special Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres, 255/35s in front and 295/30s at the rear. Differently sized tyres front to rear is another part of the Alpina culture: they make a great play of building cars that handle neutrally on the limit.
How does the Alpina XD3 stand out inside the cabin?
In the leather-lined cabin you’ll find Alpina-badged sports seats plus Alpina logos on the sill-plates, fascia and steering wheel, plus enough variation in things like trim colours and seat piping to convince you that you’re in something more bespoke than a mere well-equipped BMW. Alpinas’s brochure calls all this “discreet hints to the XD3 Biturbo’s provenance" – something akin to being discreetly hit over the head.
Still, it’s very comfortable, feels special, and from the driver’s seat the XD3 has the pleasant feeling of roominess on the inside and reasonable compactness on the road. It also shares the standard X3’s advantage of having a particularly fine view over the bonnet, an interesting collection of planes and bumps that also helpfully defines the extremities of the car in tight going.