Watch Your Back | Alpina B3 Biturbo

BY Azfar Hashim

The other hyper 3 Series but with 600 Nm of torque, enough to scare supercars — or is it?

Photos by Azfar Hashim

Now, if you are in the market for one hyper sedan that has unworldly straight-line talent, Alpina’s B3 may just be your solution…

BMW’s 335i sedan is highly talented, with so much power, sporty handling and at the same time, practicality for daily usage; and you thought that should be enough. But then along came the M3 (launching soon locally); and based on word of mouth, it will be every man’s dream car pretty soon. Which also means every man with deeper pockets will be having one…

But what if you want something that is far more special; bespoke to say the least. Meet the Alpina B3 Biturbo then, a special, personalized 3 Series. And this one, specifically in local context, sits between the 335i and M3 sedan.

To be really honest however, not everyone would be able to find a liking for such a car. Firstly, because it commands a whooping $130-odd grand over the 335i (suddenly, the 335i sounds “cheap”, which was never a word in the dictionary used to describe it). Secondly, it is priced too closely to the outgoing M3 sedan and — we even heard — upcoming M3. Thirdly, the standard B3’s bodykit does scream “boyracer!”

If you suddenly lost the interest to continue reading this review, don’t worry about it; we understand, bro.

But if you want to hear all about the mind-blowing tenacity of this car, and how surprisingly surprising (sorry, we just had to) it handles, read on then.

Here’s what is lurking under the B3’s bonnet: a demonized version of BMW’s N55 powerplant, really. Yes it retain the same 3.0-litre, six-cylinder powerplant but here’s the neat party trick Alpina threw in: a pair of turbochargers (the 335i only has a single turbocharger), forged-steel crankshaft, hi-pressure fuel pump and to keep things cool, calm and collected, larger intercooler and even stronger cooling fan. Heck, even the spark plugs are different from a 335i’s. That’s German engineering for you.

Paired to all that madness is an 8-speed automatic transmission. Again, no, this is different from the ‘box seen in a 335i; this one here has been strengthened (to accommodate the extra torque), including a taller 8th ratio to compliment the B3’s engine characteristic.

Oh, how can we forget the numbers: Alpina stated a maximum output of 410 bhp and maximum torque of 600 Nm, available from 3,000 rpm onwards. It does the 0 to100 km/h run in 4.2 seconds, and on top of that, has a top speed of 305 km/h. Mad enough for a 4-door sedan, I say…

And all that shows when you take the car out onto the road. You do not have to give the accelerator a hard mash just to feel how fast the car is; even while bumbling along at 70 km/h, it reaches 120 km/h even faster than the time you take to sneeze. You also get a set of Akrapovic exhaust fitted here as standard; the melody it delivers as you climb up the rev meter and the burble as you release the accelerator, my word, so intoxicating…

Turbo lag? What turbo lag? You get linear and constant power delivery — Alpina has certainly done a good job in this aspect as well. If you’re the sort who loves traffic light grand prix, this car here is simply unbeatable: floor it flat and watch every single thing around you turn into a real blur with the traction control light blinking away, informing you how hard it is working at providing you maximum grip.

And grip is the other thing the B3 has in abundance. Running on 20-inch signature Alpina alloys wrapped in 245/30 R-20 front and wide 265/30 R-20 rear Michelin Pilot Super Sport rubbers (we call this the “rubber of champions” in the Burnpavement office), and let’s not forget, a Drexler mechanical LSD, these two items here does provide a high level of assurance as you take corners fast. BUT if you dare, fully switch off the traction control and watch as the rear swings out when you attack that left hander with minimal braking at entry.

Unfortunately however, the B3’s ride errs on the stiffer side of things, even in Comfort mode; the culprits here are (a) the very low-profiled tyres and (b) suspension that has been tuned more for sporty driving. Well it’s not bone-jarringly hard, but is something that needs some getting used to; grandma might not like it though.

The B3 possesses the looks of a true gentleman’s unassuming sedan; ok, so some may not agree with the standard bodykit (and Alpina-design stickers running along the sides of the car). But rest assured that a lot of engineering went into that bodykit: the front apron and rear boot spoiler alone reduces lift significantly — by 60% compared to a 335i - during high-speed runs.

Cabin is your typical 3 Series, which means build quality remains class-leading. Practicality remains similar too; you can sit three average-sized adults at the rear bench, cubbyholes and storage compartments are widely available and even sunroof comes standard. Alpina did put in some special touches though; the steering gets an ‘Alpina’ badge instead of ‘BMW’, the instrument cluster is blue-faced with the word ‘Alpina’ clearly plastered, Alpina’s logo on all the seats and lastly a plaque on the centre console with the car’s serial number.

At the end of the day, the B3 is an exclusive hyper sedan that ticks all the right boxes as a special car. Alpina has honed the 3 Series and made it even better here, and if you’re a true car enthusiast with really deep pocket, you would surely appreciate this car and the premium it commands. Driving it was such a sensational experience, the weekend I spent with it zoomed past oh-so-quickly.

Let’s not get started about the number of lesser cars that was egging it on… and got shamed.