|Review:||Sunny Sunday afternoon|
When and How did Sytner & ALPINA get together?
I arrived early at ALPINA GB Headquarters to have a nosey around some of the other cars in Sytners showroom. Very impressed with the 745i – great interior – Bangle butt still a bit of a shock.|
Nick suggested carrying out the interview while we took a drive in his Cosmos Black B10 V8 S registration plate ALP 117A. Who was I to refuse. So off we drove and the questions began…||
Sytner became the GB conssesionaire in 1983, after TWR the previous conssesionaire parted company with ALPINA. TWRs relationship with ALPINA was terminated due to a difference in opinion in the future direction of ALPINA. BMW GB suggested Sytner as the best delearship to replace TWR. The ethos of ALPINA and Sytner has been closely linked ever since.
The first UK ALPINAs were built by Sytner under licence – which ones?
The first ALPINA cars were delivered to Sytner as part of an allocation from BMW GB. The cars were either 535 SE/Sports, 323SE, 325SE/Sports (becoming B10 3.5s, C1 2.7s and C2 2.7s respectively). The cars were ordered with limited slip differential. The engines were sent to ALPINA to be worked on. The cars were then completed in the UK including suspension changes and new dashes.
Is ALPINA a Halo effect on the dealership ?
Yes good way of putting it. It helps distinguish the Sytner delearships from other BMW dealers.
All BMW garages can sell ALPINA now. How does that work ?
All Sytner dealerships are branded as ALPINA and all their staff are trained in the different ALPINA cars.
Other dealerships can sell ALPINA and are given support by Sytner. If required Sytner sends a Salesman and Car to the dealership to meet the client.
All orders are processed through Sytner/ALPINA GB and the cars are sold to the delearship by ALPINA GB.
How do ALPINA enhancements work compared to ALPINA cars?
ALPINA’s philosophy on all its components is that they must make a difference, whether it be wheels or suspension. If you add them to your car you will see an improvement.
ALPINA parts are sold through BMW GB and not through Sytner.
This works well as an ALPINA owner can get replacement parts from any BMW garage. The supply chain is pre-made and Sytner do not have to concern itself with this side of the business.
Can anyone buy ALPINA Badging?
Yes and no. Anyone can buy an ‘ALPINA’ badge. Only an owner of actual ALPINA car is able to buy a model designation. (And even then they must prove they need it).
Nick & ALPINA/Sytner – when / how ?
Nick joined Sytner 12 years ago and has been running ALPINA since July 1994. In the last year he has overseen the sale of 1000 ALPINAs since he took over. ALPINA UK is now ALPINA’s biggest single customer worldwide.
Your Favorite ALPINA ?
Nick’s favorite ALPINA is his current one – the one we are travelling in. A B10 V8S which Nick believes is brilliant. The main reason for this are the ease at which the car can be driven at speed. (something I can vouch for). Here we get into the normal discussion as to B10 vs. M5, or the even more basic the debate over manual vs. Switchtronic gearboxes. Nick has a ready answer, and gushes support for ALPINA’s switchtronic.
His argument is based on usability and effectiveness of the switchtronic system. The V8 S gearbox is as useable and ultimately more effective (at least in the time it takes to change gear) than a manual (e.g. M5). It also adds the benefits of an automatic in town/traffic. Nick pointed out the precision at which you could change gear – again this is down to the speed of the change. Also the resulting rpm that is produced in the next gear – slap bang in the power curve.
Another strong reason for the V8S having switchtronic is that the segment in which the B10 and M5 are in (and XJR and E55 etc.) accounts for c. 3,500 cars a year. And all but the M5 are automatic. Nick remarks that the type of buyer who buys these cars is either used to driving automatics or expects to drive one. ALPINA only makes c.800 cars / year with only a percentage of those cars being B10 V8s therefore as the V8 S sells well he can’t be far from the truth.
ALPINA production figures / UK figures – how many per model / year?
Since 1994 1000s ALPINAs have been official sold in the UK. That works out at around 120 / year. Off the top of his head Nick reckons c. 60 B10 3.3s have been sold in the UK and between 120-150 B10 V8’s.
I have asked for more detailed figures and hope to have these soon.
What news is there on the forthcoming B7 – why not B11 / B12 ?
Nothing official as yet, and no price indications. Finger in the air estimate of its arrival in the UK is end of this year.
The reason for the new car being called B7 is apparently to fit nice into the family of cars e.g B3 , B7. This obviously suggests that the next 5-Series (E60) ALPINA may be called B5 – something that is of concern for B10 drivers who like the designation.. The B7 is the first V8 7-Series ALPINA.
The BMW X5 4.6i – ALPINA or not ALPINA ?
I asked Nick if the X5 was in fact using the B10 V8 engine – the answer was look at the specs. I already had the engine has the same displacement, bore, stroke, power and torque etc.
Apparently, ALPINA could not produce the numbers of X5s that BMW predicted/wanted and so the technology was sold to BMW under licence. About the same time the new V8 S engine was introduced. This engine was developed for the new ALPINA Roadster and then fitted to the V8 S too. The cars share similar performance although the Roadster has slightly more power thanks to better airflow in the exhaust(s).
What news on the ALPINA E60 5-Series?
The current 5-Series ALPINAs (B10 3.3 and B10 V8s) are finishing production. The next 5-Series ALPINA are not due for at least 18 months and perhaps even 2 years.
Any other new models on the way?
Z4 - This is currently being investigated.
Confirmation of the Current ALPINAs available:
B3 s switchtronic
Available in Coupe, Saloon, Touring and Convertible forms.
The B3 s is only available as switchtronic – the reason for this is down to production numbers and the fact there are 4 variants (coupe, saloon, estate and convertible) and a LHD/RHD version of each (8 variants). ALPINA GB was asked whether they wanted manual or switchtronic. Nick states that only 1 in 20 cars is now a manual. Which explains the decision to have only RHD switchtronic B3s. |
The B3s superceded the B3 which is no longer available.
Saloon and Touring in manual or switchtronic forms.
Unlike the B3 the B10 was initially introduced in manual form. The switchtronic was introduced later. Therefore both are now available. Although most 3.3’s are now sold in switchtronic form.
The last B10 3.3’s are being produced now.
There will be no B10 S (or B10 3.4) obviously this is down to the fact the E39 is now at the end of its production run.
B10 V8 S|
Available in Saloon and Touring in switchtronic form
The B10 V8 was replaced by the B10 V8S.
The last B10 V8S are being produced now.
Available in switchtronic.
Dispite rumours to the contra the Roadster is a proper ALPINA and is fully endorsed and supported by the ethos at ALPINA. The use of the ALPINA 4.8 vs. the M5 engine (in the BMW version) is to do with the fact that in order for the car to be a proper ALPINA it needs to have its own engine.
In fact parked 2 cars away was a Roadster which had just come back from a stint at TopGear with Jeremy and the boys. We should be able to see it in action sometime around July.
Thanks to Nick for his time and openness.
You can find the Official ALPINA GB Web Site here.