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      06-12-2017, 01:46 PM   #1
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Alpina D3 - Benchmarked and Reviewed

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Posted this in the UK section but thought it may be of interest to you guys since I believe Alpina are bringing out more models in North America.


Link to the Benchmark episode here:



Link to the review:





2017 Alpina D3 LCI F31


DSC_0760 by The Benchmark, on Flickr

I just want to make something clear, this is not a paid endorsement. The keys were given to me and I was told to simply enjoy myself.
All views and opinions are my own and I am quite a cynical/negative person in general. So if I say something is good, that's very high praise
My personal car is a 2017 335d, so I am in a excellent position to compare, as such this review will be based on that comparison.... OK on to the review!





Ahh the Alpina D3, walking up to it the first thing that stands out is the subtle body-kit, yes the car is based on a 330d luxury and as such the bumpers are the same, however the splitter on the front gives the car a very aggressive look, whilst also proudly displaying the Alpina logo.

DSC_0739 by The Benchmark, on Flickr

Moving around the car you notice the (imo lovely) Alpina pin-striping, again subtle. You really have to stare at the car to notice. Once at the rear however, you can see the car means business. Quad akrapovic exhaust with laser etched Alpina logos on each tail pipe along with a big-but not too big spoiler give the game away that this is no standard car or a halfords special.

DSC_0749 by The Benchmark, on Flickr

You would be forgiven for thinking that the bodywork is purely for looks, you would however be wrong. Alpina are very proud of the fact that their body-kit gives the car 70% less lift on the front and 45% less at the rear. For Sunday drivers this is all meaningless, but for the keen autobahn driver this translates into a incredibly stable high-speed machine. If you have ever taken a standard car on the autobahn and had a scary 'moment' at 130mph+ (come on who hasn't!) these changes essentially stop that and make the car rock steady at those speeds.

Its not just a body-kit and a exhaust that is changed, Alpina had Bilstein... yes Bilstein, (quite simply my favorite suspension manufacturer) have been contracted to provide the dampers whilst the springs, anti-roll bars, bushings and bump stops have all been changed to Alpina's specifications.
The wheels as standard are Alpinas classic multispoke in 19" with Michelin Pilot Super Sports for tyres... no run flats!
My car however came with the 20" upgrade, which look wonderful and do not compromise in comfort, so tick that box without fear if you order one.

That Biturbo badge?
The car on which its based on, the 330d (not 335d often incorrectly quoted by people) only comes with a single turbo. Alpina quite literally remove all the auxiliary parts from the engine and install their own.
So the single turbo is replaced with twin variable geometry turbos working in parallel as opposed to sequential in the 335d.
This is not simply a bolt on affair, a custom manifold designed to handle much higher temperatures than the standard BMW had to be developed.

DSC_0698 by The Benchmark, on Flickr

So we have more power which equals more heat, in order to combat this Alpina installed a 20% larger intercooler, secondary radiator and a dedicated oil cooler.
I also have a strong suspicion the air conditioner is not the standard European part as it blows much colder air than my 335d.

Brakes are the same as supplied on the M package 335d/340i however custom pads are used, somehow they feel twice as powerful and I am trying to find the part number for them!


Sorry if this reads like a tech bulletin, but I feel its important that people know the changes before I talk about how it drives. This is not a 330d with a remap and some coilovers, this is an Alpina.

So lets jump into the cabin...

Untitled by The Benchmark, on Flickr
DSC_0720 by The Benchmark, on Flickr

I wont go into all the changes that are made visually as they have been covered before, in short it is a much nicer cabin than even a high spec BMW.
I will however mention a change that it seems nobody ever picked up on. The climate control switch is more 'taut' when you spin the dial, gives it a more premium feel. I also suspect the buttons have a bit more resistance like a mechanical keyboard... however don't quote me on that.


Starting the car you notice it sort of blips the throttle like in a modern AMG, its a diesel so its not loud at all, but it is quite cool.
The sound symphonizer appears to be turned off, all I can hear is the straight 6 and I wish BMW did the same.
We have all the usual BMW modes, Eco plus, comfort and they all work as they would in the standard car.
From a standing start this car just hammers you with torque, more so than a 335d!
That torque just seems to last from idle all the way to its redline at just over 4k. It doesn't seem to matter what gear or speed you are at, it just pummels you in the stomach and pushes you with what feels like the hand of god into the horizon.
The funny thing is the car is so smooth and quiet you really have no idea how fast you are going, thankfully I had the HUD display which would often show triple digits when I thought it was 70.
Now I mentioned that the car just hammers you from idle, so it would be safe to assume that with 700nm/516ftlb of torque being driven solely by the rear wheels, it would just destroy tyres. Well no it doesn't, I attempted to do so many times and the car just squats and goes with a tiny amount of spin. This by the way was with traction control fully disabled.
How does this car do this?
Well I was lucky enough to spend half a day on Dyno Developments rather special dyno and noticed that the first 4 gears deliver bhp/torque in a different way to the last 4 gears. Alpina have mapped the gearbox so it can deliver as much power as physically possible... clever.
The throttle mapping is also linear, so 50% throttle is 50% power. Modern cars always have artificial power so at first the car doesnt feel all that fast. you just have to reprogram your brain to use the pedal more. This gives you a feeling of control which is largely absent in modern cars.

DSC_0688 by The Benchmark, on Flickr

So its incredibly powerful, quiet and refined inside the cabin. I have basically described a Rolls Royce (which I hear lends its gearbox) so surely with it being a 1700kg+ diesel car, it must handle poorly?
God no, this is one of the best handling cars i have ever driven. Sharper than a E46 M3 and... well you will not believe me, but it reminds me of a base 997 Carrera
The steering is very firm, you can feel the road almost as if it was hydraulic. Getting back into my 335d even in Sport+ it feels lightweight and devoid of feel. I would pay money to have someone program in the same steering... its that good.
Chuck this car into a corner and there is minimal body roll, unless you really try, the back end will just grip and go with no slip. Doing this even in comfort allows a little play from the back end with minimal (or so it seems) computer interference. I actually first realised how good the handling was by accident when a twat in a van pulled out on a roundabout. My 335d would become unsettled and bounce/lean even though its 4wd. The Alpina acted like a Hot Hatch and darted left-right. I should of jumped or had some adrenaline from such a moment, but the Alpina handled so well I actually laughed and patted the steering wheel.
This car is a weapon.

Going back to the power, its very similar to a 335d in absolute numbers. But it delivers them in a very different manner. Now if you like a traditional Diesel power delivery, which is a fat slog of torque till 4k, then this car is like that but with double the power. If you dislike Diesels then quite honestly this car isn't for you. The 335d is a completely different engine and delivers its power up till 4700rpm and in a petrol fashion, it just climbs with more power till redline.
The Alpina doesn't do that. It just delivers everything all the time. So it actually feels faster up until 4k.
However it would be foolish for someone to dismiss this car because its a diesel, there are benefits to be had for choosing this over say a 340i or even a M3.
It puts out only 139 grams of CO2, resulting in low tax. You can also get 55mpg without much effort just like you would in a 330d. In fact on the day I tested it on the Dyno and did that Mexico speed run I averaged 42mpg. Now go do that in a petrol and you will be in the high teens.

Untitled by The Benchmark, on Flickr

I am struggling to come up with anything negative. This truly is one of the most perfect cars on the road. Power, Comfort, Economy and Handling. It seems to be able to do everything without compromise. Servicing costs are identical to a 330d as are the service times, most of the parts are standard BMW so replacing/repairs wont cost the earth.
The only negative really is the cost if you finance. You see if you are a cash buyer, the car isn't much more than a 335d and as such if you have the cash you should be buying this car. Unlike a standard BMW the residuals are far greater so the cost of ownership to you is almost identical.
Financing however is an issue, there are no discounts to be had for a start. Then there is the interest rate, it is higher than BMW's rates. I get the impression this is deliberate so as not to negatively impact the sales of the standard 3 series.
However if you can source your own financing, you maybe able to get something better than BMW offer, so shop around.


OK to summarise.
This car is incredible, if i had the money and wasn't tied up with the 335d I would buy one. This would be my personal car.
If you are in the market for a 340i, 335d, M3, M4, S4, S5, C43 and all the other models that fit into that category I would strongly urge you to test drive the D3/D4.
I promise you it will make you reconsider your decision.

I honestly came away from this confused, this is such a good car, why aren't more sold?
The answer I think is that most people are sheep, they follow the trend under the impression that whatever it is they see marketed is good. Sure a M3 for instance is a good fast car.... but I would argue this is better in many ways.

Don't be a sheep.



DSC_0712 by The Benchmark, on Flickr
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      06-12-2017, 01:56 PM   #2
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nice car, although I was never a fan of the Alpina wheel design
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      06-12-2017, 03:00 PM   #3
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"...I believe Alpina are bringing out more models in North America."
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      06-12-2017, 03:53 PM   #4
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Nice, thank you for sharing
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      06-14-2017, 01:24 PM   #5
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Amazing wagon!
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      06-14-2017, 10:10 PM   #6
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Thanks for posting!

I'll pick one little nit. I think I would want my Alpina to have a leather dash. That photo of the dash with no leather on it is just kind of sad. Of course, this little nit has nothing to do with the real magic going on under the hood/bonnet.
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      06-16-2017, 09:56 AM   #7
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My major issue with this car is that it's a diesel.

The B3S is a vastly superior choice albeit at 10k more than the diesel!

Oh and Alpina's only come with a 2 year warranty instead of the normal 3.
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      06-20-2017, 10:52 AM   #8
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Amazing wagon!
Yum. Some more info here:

http://www.evo.co.uk/alpina/d3/7316/...rice-and-specs

And a lot of very choice used ones for sale here:

https://www.pistonheads.com/classifi...ars/bmw/alpina

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      06-20-2017, 10:53 AM   #9
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Very nice wagon. Thank you for sharing!
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      06-20-2017, 11:02 AM   #10
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Quote:
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nice car, although I was never a fan of the Alpina wheel design
Cleaning the wheels would be pain!
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      06-20-2017, 11:34 AM   #11
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Looks great...hope they bring it to Canada
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      06-20-2017, 11:35 AM   #12
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Quote:
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Quote:
Originally Posted by White340 View Post
nice car, although I was never a fan of the Alpina wheel design
Cleaning the wheels would be pain!
Pressure Washer = done.
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      06-20-2017, 11:37 AM   #13
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      06-20-2017, 11:37 AM   #14
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Pricing

Why aren't more sold? I wouldn't mind a diesel wagon, but the price difference plus lack of discounts (or maybe there are some?) make an Alpina very very hard to justify. I think you are looking to shell out 30-35% more (factoring-in the 25% off sticker for a regular wagon 3 series) than for a regular 330/335d M Sport. For me, it is just not worth it.
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      06-20-2017, 01:11 PM   #15
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Oh, you guys with all your "boo, hoo, it's more expensive than a 330d/335d, it's a diesel, bah!"

In the States/Canada, we get only get 328xd (really 320xd) and 328ix) wagons/tourings. Anything else would be super; hope they bring it (but I suspect that chances are small .)
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      06-20-2017, 02:36 PM   #16
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This^
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      06-20-2017, 02:43 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by michal12 View Post
Why aren't more sold? I wouldn't mind a diesel wagon, but the price difference plus lack of discounts (or maybe there are some?) make an Alpina very very hard to justify. I think you are looking to shell out 30-35% more (factoring-in the 25% off sticker for a regular wagon 3 series) than for a regular 330/335d M Sport. For me, it is just not worth it.
Wagon Love

built sticker ! That's the price of a decent M3 or M4
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      06-20-2017, 02:49 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brake_Late View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by michal12 View Post
Why aren't more sold? I wouldn't mind a diesel wagon, but the price difference plus lack of discounts (or maybe there are some?) make an Alpina very very hard to justify. I think you are looking to shell out 30-35% more (factoring-in the 25% off sticker for a regular wagon 3 series) than for a regular 330/335d M Sport. For me, it is just not worth it.
Wagon Love

built sticker ! That's the price of a decent M3 or M4
As I mentioned in another thread, I told my dealer money is no object if he can get me an Individual color F31 when I move up from this lease (Ferrari Red or Atlantis Blue). Anyone saying that it would cost the same as an F8x misses the point entirely. Different tools for different jobs.
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      06-20-2017, 02:59 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spuntyb View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brake_Late View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by michal12 View Post
Why aren't more sold? I wouldn't mind a diesel wagon, but the price difference plus lack of discounts (or maybe there are some?) make an Alpina very very hard to justify. I think you are looking to shell out 30-35% more (factoring-in the 25% off sticker for a regular wagon 3 series) than for a regular 330/335d M Sport. For me, it is just not worth it.
Wagon Love

built sticker ! That's the price of a decent M3 or M4
As I mentioned in another thread, I told my dealer money is no object if he can get me an Individual color F31 when I move up from this lease (Ferrari Red or Atlantis Blue). Anyone saying that it would cost the same as an F8x misses the point entirely. Different tools for different jobs.
It was simply for reference. My only wish here ( as is the same w many peoples )
is that the wagon chassis would be offered w an
M Engine and other important M parts was all. Yes definitely to Ferrari Rot ( see my other posts regarding this color )

GLWY future builds. Euro Delivery too ?
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      06-20-2017, 04:19 PM   #20
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I am sure that it is a twin turbo system not a variable vane system.

Stunning car. I have owned a E90 D3 single turbo and it is the best car i've owned
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      06-20-2017, 06:40 PM   #21
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Don't lie to us about more Alpina models man! Don't do it!!!

It will be that much more disappointing when it does t happen...
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      06-20-2017, 08:21 PM   #22
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I have to totally contradict you - a person in the market for an M3 wil not be satisfied with a D3, no matter how wonderful it is.

They are simply not built to do the same things - check my avatar below.
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