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      11-11-2016, 05:36 PM   #1
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Drives: N54 e82
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Arrow We drive an Alpina B4 BiTurbo - extended road test...

A fellow Bimmerpost and forum member qdtjant (Jan)contacted me last month asking me if I would be interested in testing an Alpina B4 BiTurbo. Needless to say Jan didn't need to ask me twice! I was in.

Jan and I first met a few years back when he was picking up a car at the BMW Welt and driving it back to Sweden. We have met up a few times since then on press events and personal trips to Germany. Jan is a writer for the BMW Club of Sweden called: Bayerisches Blatt. Jan would be flying into Munich on this trip and then we would pick up the B4 and head out on our little adventure.

Here is a link to the BMW Club of Sweden's Bayerisches Blatt

The original plan was to pick up the B4 and head to Southern Germany for some twisty, curvy road fun. For those that don't know what a B4 is... it's a 4er coupe with a twin turbo six cylinder(gasoline) engine based on the N55(single turbo. Alpina uses the N55 block as its basic "lego" building block(pun intended!) and modifies it to produce 410 PS and 600Nm of torque mated to a ZF 8 speed automatic trans with Alpina sw logic and shift buttons on the steering wheel. The engine also meets EU emission level of Euro6. BMW's latest models only meet Euro5 norm/levels. In the European markets the higher the EU number the lower your yearly registration fee/tax is on your car. So going from a E5 to E6 rating is a big deal over here.

We stuck to our initial plan, but then we found out we could do a BMW factory tour at the Regensburg plant. We were up for the challenge! So we had some driving to do! First we would head for Munich to pickup our B4, then drive to Berchtesgaden, then drive thru the Bavarian Alps, and then drive up North to Regensburg, stay over night and do our BMW factory tour the next day. Then head back down to Munich so Jan can catch a plane back home to Sweden. It was going to be an awesome road trip. Jan also wanted to visit Eagle's Nest so we also stopped by there early on a cold fall day. Our little trip went quite well. One things for sure... if I had the money... there is no question that I would be driving a Alpina B4 as my daily.

First Impressions:

Here are some thoughts I have of this Alpina. (Mind you I'm coming from a "tuned" 135i with 380 PS and 520Nm of torque). My first impression of the Alpina B4 was how comfortable and useable the car is on normal roads. For a car with 30 series tires of 20 inches(dia), the ride was amazing! Simply wonderful. (Why can't BMW do this?) It rode far better than say any 3er or 4er that I have driven. But when you felt like chucking the car into the turns... the car responded with a playfulness that I had not experienced in any other BMW's. I really liked that. This car is a blast to drive!


The engine was really quite good. It pulled well at low revs like my N54 motor. But as you rev'd the engine, the power just kept climbing. I never felt the power start to drop off - like in a stock car. This thing just kept pulling and pulling. The high rpm response was quite good. The engine IS a Beast! It's rated at 410 PS, but I think that figure is about ~150 PS short(under rated) of it's real Hp rating. I've heard that Alpina has a policy of not wanting to embarrass BMW's ///M cars(in the HP dept).

Back when Alpina made the e60 based B5, a super charged V8... it was only rated at 500PS while the V10 M5 was rated at 507 PS. I heard that the Alpina V8 engine really made over >600PS at that time. I also think this is why you never see any German car mags comparing the Alpina models to a ///M model. Also in the torque dept the B4's engine pulls like a freight train. It's smooth and torquey at ANY rpm. It feels like a well tuned N54(even though its based on the N55). I liked that. Alpina reprograms the ZF auto, and they dd an awesome job. The engine and trans work as one unit. It's a magical experience. IF you think BMW's ZF is great your gonna love this unit.

The Alpina B4 BiTurbo engine is based on BMW's N55 single(dual scroll) turbo engine block. But Alpina uses TWO turbos like BMW's N54 engine. The turbos are special units spec'd by Alpina running Alpina engine software. This is also why the engine's power pulls to redline, while BMW's power delivery seems to drop off of a cliff after 5,500 rpms. Alpina changes a lot of things internally on their engines. It's part of the company's "secret sauce".

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Our test car was an xDrive model B4. It also had the optional limited slip (rear)diff. I would definitely tick that option box! What I liked about the xDrive was it was invisible to the overall driving experience. Only once while driving in the rain and on a high speed(>140mph) turn on the Autobahn - could you feel a slight tug thru the steering wheel. 98% of the time you could NOT tell that the car was AWD. The B4 drives like any RWD BMW - but the AWD is there when you need it. I liked that. The car really likes to transition thru the turns = powering out of tight turns like a RWD BMW. Three characteristics come to my mind: playful, sporty, yet comfortable.

I really had no complaints about the B4. I'd own one in a hear beat(!) - IF I only had the cash for one. But considering how the Alpina is slightly cheaper than say an M4... (by about 10K euros over here) I find the price quite good - by German standards. I really wish Alpina would sell the B4 in the states. Currently only the 7er and 6er GC are sold in the US.

I also liked that the car's styling - it is very understated. Most people won't know what you are driving. But for the enthusiasts out there... they KNOW! I liked that. Sure you can order the car with the traditional Alpina side stripes(Our test car only had the front lower spoiler stripe) but I think not having the side stripes lends more to the "sleeper" effect. There was a guy out in the country side mumbling to us why we were taking pictures of a normal BMW. lol That made my day. IF only he knew what a special car this is.

The genius is in the details - and Alpina has that in spades. Everywhere you look on the car - says that your driving something special. No coolant gauge... but instead a proper oil gauge(just like BMW used to give us!). Look at the alloy wheels... no exposed valve stem... instead one of the spokes is hollow and the valve stem resides behind the locking center cap! The rear trunk lid looks stock, but it's not. It's a Alpina design - to improve rear down force - while the front spoiler improves front end lift. The B4 felt rock solid at high speeds. The car feels like it can top out over 303 kph - and I have not doubt it can. Normally cars can go ~15 to 20 kph more than what the Tuv says in the German registration papers the car can do. The leather dash was also a nice touch. Alpina also offer's special soft leather called: LAVALINA leather - which is a really soft nice leather that you can order in special wish colors or in traditional Alpina colors. Our test car unfortunately did not have this optional leather. Still I found the standard leather quite nice.

Alpina's are quite a performance package... but with an emphasis on street driving. Sure for the track a M4 would be a better choice. But as one automotive writer put it... for 360 days out of the year... the Alpina is the ultimate driving machine. But for those five track (or so)days out of the year that you go to the track... a M4 would be a better choice. I would take the B4 no question - for 365 days of the year!! For me, my race track is the Autobahn... and this car was breed for it! B4 ohh how I miss you already!!

This is the kind of car that I would own and just leave it stock... bc it IS that good out of the box! It was an amazing car worth more than the sum of all its parts. The want is high on this one.


Alpina's B4 Technical Data...

Cylinders 6 in line (twin turbos!)
Capacity (cc) 2979
Bore (mm) 84.0
Stroke (mm) 89.6
Compression ratio (:1) 10.2
Max output (kW (hp) / rpm) 301 (410) / 5500-6250
Max torque (Nm / 1/min) 600 / 3000-4000
Engine management BOSCH MEVD 17.2.G
Fuel type 98-octane
Emissions classification

Acceleration 0-100 km/h (s) 4.0
Top speed (km/h) 303

Transmission type:
8-Speed Sport-Automatic ZF 8HP70 SWITCH-TRONIC

Wheels and tires:
Standard wheels and tyres: ALPINA CLASSIC 20"
Front 8 x 20 245/30 ZR20
Rear 9 x 20 265/30 ZR20

Fuel consumption:
Urban (l/100km) 10.2 (23 mpg)
Extra-urban (l/100km) 6.1 (38 mpg)
Combined (l/100km) 7.6 (31 mpg)

Unladen (EU) (kg) 1690
Max permissible (kg) 2135

Well... onto my pics. Enjoy...

///M Munich Airport...
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BMW's main dealership - just down the street from the Welt.
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Our "test car"...
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Spotted this sleeping beauty...
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Rehlegg Hotel aka Best Western in Ramsau near Berchtesgaden
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BEST WESTERN PLUS Berghotel Rehlegg,
Holzengasse 16, 83486 Ramsau bei Berchtesgaden
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cold start...

on our way to Eagle's Nest...
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Hitler's tea haus way above the hill top.
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You have to walk deep into the mountain and then take an elevator to the top.
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it's best to arrive early <9am-ish bc the crowds do come later in the morning. It was kind of nice not having to deal with the crowds - on this fall day.
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Café Winklstüberl, Leitzachtalstraße 68, 83730 Fischbachau
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so many wonderful cakes! People drive here from Munich to take a cake home!! This place is that good. Plus the staff dresses up in traditional dirndl dresses. On the weekends this place can be a little bit crowded... on the week days it's quiet. Visit for a little taste of Germany/Bavarian foods/cakes.
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SORAT Insel-Hotel - Regensburg
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lovely Regensburg at night... this was the view from our Sorat hotel!
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SORAT Insel-Hotel Regensburg, Müllerstraße 7, 93059 Regensburg
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Hofbräuhaus, Waaggäßchen 1, 93047 Regensburg
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Hof Brau Haus - Regensburg - in the Altstadt. Just a short walk from our (Sorat)hotel.
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BMW Werk Regensburg - just some of the more popular models BMW builds here.
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tom @ eas5344.00
      11-11-2016, 06:49 PM   #2
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BMW doesn't let you take cameras or cells phones into the factory floor. But I found these photos online from BMW AG website to show you what the factory looks like.

In Regensburg they currently produce about 1,400 cars per day. BMW models such as: 1er four door hatch, X1, 3er sedan and 4er convertible including the M versions, and the Active Tourer(small van).

BMW AG factory fotos...
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      11-12-2016, 09:47 AM   #3
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An Alpina B4 Allrad(xDrive) on display at the BMW dealership back in Munich...
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      11-14-2016, 03:18 PM   #4
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Alpina stand at Frankfurt 2015...

Here are some pics I took at the Frankfurt Auto Show last year. (Sept 2015, the show is held every two years) I thought you'd like to see the Alpina line up(sans 7er) and some close ups of their wonderful BiTurbo (gasoline)six engine. Like I wrote above... the BiTurbo engine has two turbos, but it is based on the N55(single) turbo engine block. Its truly a wonderful engine.

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Also you might want to check out my story on visiting Alpina and Ruf two years ago...

We visit Alpina & RUF automobiles facilities
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      12-07-2016, 05:28 PM   #5
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I have to be completely honest and say I've never liked the M4. I would take basically any of the M3s that came before it before I would take an M4. But I Do like the 4 series very much. Something tells me this would be perfect in my little messed up universe.

Alpina green with brown leather and gold deco stripes for me please
7/18/09- I pick up my baby- 2009 E92 335i Xdrive, Space Gray over Coral Red. Premium Pkg, Cold Weather Pkg, M-Sport Pkg, 193Ms, Gloss Black grills, Custom Gloss Black Mirrors, Performance shift and E-brake boot, M3 spoiler, Euro fog switch, gloss black interior tim, Coco-Mats (red/black), H&R coilovers, 19'' Alufelgen SF-71s......
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      12-07-2016, 05:44 PM   #6
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What is the suspension set up in this car?
BMW CCA Member #516012
2016 340i, Estoril Blue, Manual Transmission, MPE, MPBBK, HRE FF04
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      12-07-2016, 05:57 PM   #7
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I'm surprised the car didn't have the digital vent boost gauge produced by AWRON.
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      12-07-2016, 06:11 PM   #8
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Can you do the European delivery with ALPINA vehicles?
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      12-07-2016, 07:18 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by JoeyBananaz18 View Post
I have to be completely honest and say I've never liked the M4. I would take basically any of the M3s that came before it before I would take an M4. But I Do like the 4 series very much. Something tells me this would be perfect in my little messed up universe.

Alpina green with brown leather and gold deco stripes for me please
This B4 BiTurbo was one of the BEST cars I have driven that is 100% usable on the street. Alpina clearly doesn't car about track days or lap times. But what they DO care about is having a sporty car that you can drive damn fast(or slow) every day out of the year. IF I had the cash... a B4(or maybe a B5) would be in my garage.

Originally Posted by Sedan_Clan View Post
I'm surprised the car didn't have the digital vent boost gauge produced by AWRON.
I believe Alpina offers that gauge as an option.

Originally Posted by BigMacMeal View Post
Can you do the European delivery with ALPINA vehicles?
Yes. But only for the B6 GC and the B7 - since those are the only two US models that BMWNA offer in the US.

Originally Posted by goj View Post
What is the suspension set up in this car?

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      12-07-2016, 07:58 PM   #10
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Your trip looks amazing, very inspirational! Hoping to visit Europe sometime next year. Thanks for sharing
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      12-07-2016, 08:25 PM   #11
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Amazing pics/story. Loving that Green B4.............and now I want a spoiler on my GC.........
2015 BMW F36 428i JetBlack. Sport Line Edition
25% 3M Tint|
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      12-07-2016, 08:49 PM   #12
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Very nice write up. Unfortunately in the US we're only allowed to acquire the B7.
"Drive more, worry less. "

435i, MPPK, MPE, M-Sport Line
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      12-07-2016, 09:03 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by F32Fleet View Post
Very nice write up. Unfortunately in the US we're only allowed to acquire the B7.
And B6 GC.
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      12-07-2016, 09:05 PM   #14
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Great review Dackelone ! I don't get that apart from true BMW enthusiasts, no one (not even most BMW owners) know what Alpina really is and how important the company was in developing Munich's finest race cars in the past (I'm talking about the 3.0 CSL for example).

Now Alpina is very well integrated into BMW (and are basically a BMW option since the Alpina cars are assembled in the BMW factories) and their focus is basically a "softer" take on M cars, made especially for high speed touring.

The person who gets what the Alpina are about will have the best of BMW: a car with the performance of an M, but with the ride/handling characteristic of what an M car used to be before the division started believing that stiffer suspension is better.

Note that companies that make the best handling cars, Ferrari and McLaren, still believe that a compliant suspension make a better handling car.
1981 323i, 143 Kashmir-Metallic, 0094 Pergament, Sports M5, LSD.
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      12-07-2016, 09:33 PM   #15
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Awesome review, thanks for sharing your thoughts.
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      12-07-2016, 09:39 PM   #16
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Dackelone You were in Regensburg and didn't stop by the historisches Wurstkuchl?
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      12-07-2016, 10:01 PM   #17
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Nice setup!
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      12-07-2016, 10:28 PM   #18
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Very solid write up and profile of the B4. Thanks for sharing
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      12-08-2016, 12:04 AM   #19
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Starting to save and plan for the next one! Hopefully the next gen B4 Vert will be offered in the US for a ED sometime in 2020.
That is, if the world hasn't blown itself up by then!

Beautiful cars~

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      12-08-2016, 12:17 AM   #20
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Amazing pics!

Thank you!
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      12-08-2016, 12:23 AM   #21

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      12-08-2016, 01:18 AM   #22
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Alpina's is like a good hidden secret inside BMW, very underrated.
People see an Alpina and are bashing the stripes, the rims - they really are not taking in the entire consept behind these cars.
To me, Alpina is way above M cars, as M cars are really not for me, and the entire M concept are kinda drifting these days - and i don't track my cars. What i want is a sophisticated, discrete power house in a stylish body. The Alpina is really something i want to explore more of, and the B4 is on my bucketlist as of now.
Thanks for a great writeup, and some inspiring pictures, hope you enjoyed some beer and a few of those lovely cakes.
3 series: E30: 89 325i, E36: 92 325iC, 94 320iC, 96 320i Convertible, 94 320iaC, E46: 99 320ia, E90: 06 318i Le mans, E91: 07 318dt
5 series: E39: 97 520ia, 01 530Dat, E61: 09 520Dat
X series: E83 05 X3 2.0d, E84 10' X1 2.0 X-drive DA, F25 13' 2.0da X-drive.
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