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      08-02-2013, 07:55 AM   #1
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Alpina B3 Biturbo (F30) Review by Top Gear

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Wow.

Review: http://www.topgear.com/uk/car-news/a...ive-2013-08-01

F30 B3 specs/pics: http://www.f30post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=811899


Hang on, there's something wrong with that name.

How so?


It says Bi-Turbo, when the BMW 3-Series only has single turbo petrol engines these days.

Good spot. And totally bang on. The Alpina B3 does indeed sport a twin-turbo engine - the older 3.0-litre straight six that used to underpin the 335i until BMW decided it could do the job with a single turbo (which they call, somewhat mischievously, the Twinpower turbo). The trouble is BMW no longer makes that engine, so Alpina has got hold of the tooling for it and is now making it themselves. In tuning circles, this is called going the extra mile.

So why do they bother?

Because they're German and believe that if a job's worth doing, it's worth doing right. Alpina's engineers thought the twin turbo set-up better suited the needs of the B3, giving better low rev response and pick-up, and maintaining power better across the rev range. Nor is that the only change. The intercooler is 40 per cent bigger, the exhaust is by Akrapovic and saves 7.5kg, there's a new fuel pump, spark plugs, wiring loom and ECU. These are far reaching mods and they've had the desired effect. 410bhp and a fearsome 442lb ft at 3000rpm.

Cor, all that must add a few grand to the price, yeah?

Um yeah. 15 grand, actually. A standard BMW 335i in M Sport trim with an auto box is 39,385. The Alpina is 54,950. The M3 (which went off sale only a month or so back in anticipation of the new M4) was almost exactly the same price (54,545) and that boasted a bespoke 4.0-litre V8, different body panels, suspension and all the rest. Let's just say Alpina is being punchy with its pricing strategy.

But the B3 must be pretty much as fast as an M3, isn't it?

I reckon it's faster. It is on paper, with a claimed 0-62mph of 4.2secs and a non-limited top speed of 190mph. And while the turbocharged motor might not have the sparkling response of the M3's naturally aspirated V8, it makes up for it with a massively forceful mid-range that's more useful and exploitable in everyday driving. It's a perfectly tractable, well mannered and smooth engine and if it wasn't for the straight six's gorgeous exhaust fizz on start-up, you wouldn't think the B3 was anything other than a badge n' wheel upgrade.

But it's an auto isn't it?

It is, but not only is it the superb ZF eight speeder, but it suits the car's more relaxed demeanour almost perfectly. Almost perfectly because I don't think the software overlap between Alpina and BMW has been perfectly matched. If you let it take care of its own affairs, it can hunt a little - it's as if the BMW genes want to change up to bigger gears, while the Alpina genes demand lower, and they wind up having a gentle tussle. But you can override that by using manual shifts, operated by little nipple buttons on the back of the steering wheel. Personally I'd prefer paddles, but this is the way Alpina has always done it and they work perfectly well.

Anything been done to the suspension?

Masses, including a strengthened rear axle, driveshafts and differential, plus Alpina's own adaptive suspension settings and Eibach springs that are a massive 45 per cent stiffer than standard. That's a vast change. The wheels are 20s and run more negative camber, too. So how in god's name has Alpina made it ride so well? Not even Jaguar can make big wheels deliver such compliance and suppleness. It's staggering. Yet in terms of handling the uprated suspension delivers everything you could hope and more besides. It's a delight to drive, pure and simple, a step ahead of the standard BMW chassis.

Any drawbacks at all?

I can think of only one: I wish the adaptive suspension's default mode was Sport instead of Comfort. Comfort rides well, but is too slack on the throttle. Sport still rides well, but everything is that much tauter. Honestly, this is like automotive alchemy. It might not have as much guts-and-thunder as a Merc C63 AMG, but this is a car that would be fabulous to live with, able to match your mood and loaf with the family on board or tear around the countryside, and, crucially, excel at both.

Comfy inside then?

As much as any 3-Series, which is to say very. Excellent driving position, extremely capable infotainment system, and easily enough space for four and their kit. The 3-Series is now a useful size and doesn't feel as cramped. Alpina upgrades are limited to stitching and badging, a plaque, blue dials and a bit of trim finishing here and there. It's just about enough for you not to forget you're driving something special.

Some come on then, is it worth a ten out of ten?

If it was under 50 grand, then I think it would be. It does move the game on from a standard 335i and I can't think of a single upgrade or change that I don't agree with. It's a genuinely superb car. And for what it's worth the amount of work that Alpina has done is probably worth the asking price. Yet 55 grand for a 3-Series sticks in the throat. It's a nine.
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      08-02-2013, 08:52 AM   #2
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This car makes no sense at this price point. Pick it up in 3 years when it's worth 50% of its price...
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      08-02-2013, 09:26 AM   #3
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So Alpina is manufacturing their own N54's to put in the car? ...interesting. When I first saw the power figure, I was excited to see how they got that out of an N55
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      08-02-2013, 09:43 AM   #4
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The new M3/4 should use the N55 with a twin turbo as well. No intercooler though, using the same water intercoolers as M5/6 engine. So this B3 might be more powerful, but I don't think it'll be as advanced as the upcoming M3/4.
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      08-02-2013, 09:44 AM   #5
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Alpina's look pretty, but I don't think I'd ever buy one even if I could justify such a purchase.
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      08-02-2013, 12:46 PM   #6
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Another endorsement for the Akrapovic exhaust system. I am really tempted by this system
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      08-02-2013, 01:07 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 300hp View Post
Another endorsement for the Akrapovic exhaust system. I am really tempted by this system
Not sure how they are for cars, but they're pretty high-end and well-regarded for motorcycles. I would have no hesitation considering one for a car. In fact, I'm going to have to look into this for my 335...
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      08-02-2013, 01:13 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stillhart View Post
Not sure how they are for cars, but they're pretty high-end and well-regarded for motorcycles. I would have no hesitation considering one for a car. In fact, I'm going to have to look into this for my 335...
There is a video of them out there already, its pretty cool stuff



If only someone can do a comparison of:

MPE 1k
GT Haus 2k
Akrapovic 3k
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      08-02-2013, 01:25 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnofcross View Post
The new M3/4 should use the N55 with a twin turbo as well. No intercooler though, using the same water intercoolers as M5/6 engine. So this B3 might be more powerful, but I don't think it'll be as advanced as the upcoming M3/4.
It is pretty strange that they are using the N54 instead of N55, maybe they don't want to invest the R&D into properly tuning it (reliably) or making the bolt on hardware.

The new M3/M4 better have a higher revving version of the N55. I'd guess they will have little in common other than similar blocks. There's no way you can go from the 8.5k red-lining S65 down to 7K.
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      08-02-2013, 01:29 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 300hp View Post
There is a video of them out there already, its pretty cool stuff
That sounds pretty cool, very smooth and race engine "ish". Would be nicer to hear it from an owners cars, marketing videos might not be the best source. How about cleaning those tips? I'm personally a fan of polished silver but those are also annoying to keep clean. Some cars look great with black tips.
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      08-02-2013, 01:51 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drob23 View Post
That sounds pretty cool, very smooth and race engine "ish". Would be nicer to hear it from an owners cars, marketing videos might not be the best source. How about cleaning those tips? I'm personally a fan of polished silver but those are also annoying to keep clean. Some cars look great with black tips.
You should see my stock non MPE exhaust tips, there are black. I just figured not to clean it and eventually it will look like a black exhaust. LOL

I thought the Akrapovic tips were blackish too? Guess I was not looking properly
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      08-02-2013, 02:01 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 300hp View Post
There is a video of them out there already, its pretty cool stuff

...snip...

If only someone can do a comparison of:

MPE 1k
GT Haus 2k
Akrapovic 3k
Borla is ~1k also. Wonder if that's any good compared to the MPE.

And yeah, just saw that video. Sounds good, but you know, it's different when it's published by Akra.
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      08-02-2013, 02:02 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 300hp View Post
You should see my stock non MPE exhaust tips, there are black. I just figured not to clean it and eventually it will look like a black exhaust. LOL

I thought the Akrapovic tips were blackish too? Guess I was not looking properly
Akra's got carbon tips and they look bad ass. I don't know that I'd pay an extra $2k for it, though...
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      08-02-2013, 02:10 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stillhart View Post
Akra's got carbon tips and they look bad ass. I don't know that I'd pay an extra $2k for it, though...
I wish someone could do the comparison for us.
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      08-02-2013, 02:26 PM   #15
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Will these be available in the US? I know the B7 is...
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      08-02-2013, 02:28 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drob23 View Post
That sounds pretty cool, very smooth and race engine "ish". Would be nicer to hear it from an owners cars, marketing videos might not be the best source. How about cleaning those tips? I'm personally a fan of polished silver but those are also annoying to keep clean. Some cars look great with black tips.
Check out this thread

http://www.f30post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=862604

I've got one on mine as well and it is a really nice product. Carbon fibre tips are easy to keep clean. The exhaust sounds incredible when you lean on it and quiet on the highway when you are just motoring. Great pops on the upshifts and nice burble. Expensive but you know you got a quality upgrade. No regrets at all.

As for the B3, for that money you could modify an F30 chassis to the same standard. Especially if you don't like the Alpina wheels and fussy graphics. You could have coil overs and nice HRE wheels, a down pipe. I am sure a bigger intercooler will be coming from someone like Dinan.

Personally for that kind of money, I would wait and see what the M3 is going to be like. I think it is going to be killer thriller of a ride.
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      08-02-2013, 02:43 PM   #17
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But for those lines down the sides of the car, I'd prefer a B3 to an M3, but that's just me. Perhaps I prefer it because it's not available. One always wants what one can't have, right? The reality is that I'm not so sure I would deliberately buy another N54 motor. The thing is I don't really see, other than styling, what makes this car all that different from an M3.
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      08-02-2013, 02:45 PM   #18
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If it was available in the US, and if a manual trans was an option, I would jump on this in a heartbeat.
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      08-02-2013, 03:22 PM   #19
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Further admission that the N55, while a very good engine, probably isn't as good many purport it to be. The N54 was a real gem, and probably explains why older tests of 335is/335s had similar time to distance and better track times vs the N55 e9x and F30 variants. Hopefully not the continuation of the troubling trend of BMW's best engines' being behind it
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      08-02-2013, 03:38 PM   #20
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Alpina's look pretty, but I don't think I'd ever buy one even if I could justify such a purchase.
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      08-02-2013, 04:02 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FogCityM3
Further admission that the N55, while a very good engine, probably isn't as good many purport it to be. The N54 was a real gem, and probably explains why older tests of 335is/335s had similar time to distance and better track times vs the N55 e9x and F30 variants. Hopefully not the continuation of the troubling trend of BMW's best engines' being behind it
I thought the new M3 engine is based on the N55
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      08-02-2013, 04:08 PM   #22
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I'd rock it... and I would always be tempted to take one over an M3...Not saying it's a better car.. but to me Alpina is something special, or at least more special than an M product.

Probably get them to do a custom paint job for me though... I would take mine with stripes... but I struggle to think of a good combo..


Not that I can afford this!
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