Alpina B3 Touring

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IT’S NOT often we’ll review an outdated model, but in Alpina’s case we’ll make an exception. Confused? Don’t be. Alpina dipped its toe into Australian waters in mid-2016 as a dealer-led initiative with its B3 sedan and wagon and B4 coupe and convertible models, but BMW Australia has now put one arm around the operation and updated ‘S’ models will soon launch with up-to-date interiors, more power and big price cuts.

Rather than wait until then, however, we’ve taken the opportunity to slide behind the wheel of the B3 Touring for a taste of Alpina motoring.

The power, performance and pricetag all say “M3 Wagon”, but the driving experience says something quite different. Solely focused on road use rather than racetrack ability, the B3 feels like a heavily revised 340i, which is essentially what it is. The engine is a high-performance version of the 335i’s N55, albeit converted to twin-turbo. It’s sublime, with enormous torque reserves ensuring ballistic roll-on acceleration and a super-smooth inline-six note. The standard-fit eight-speed auto is a much nicer day-today accomplice than M Division’s DCT and ride quality is excellent – as an everyday performance car the Alpina B3 is superb. It looks great, too; you could make a case for Alpina’s 20-inch multi-spoke being the sexiest wheel of all time. It needs a limited-slip diff (optionally available), especially with the 324kW/660Nm of the revised S models, and the price is high, though again the S Touring has received an $11,000 haircut. All in all, we can’t wait to sample the revised Alpina line-up when it lands in early-2018. The connoisseur’s performance car?