|Review:||The BMW ALPINA D3|
It has phenomenal pull,” was the first impression that Andreas Bovensiepen had of the BMW 320d race-diesel that he raced along with Hans Stuck, Marc Duez and Christian Menzel. Together they took the overall win in none other than the 1998 24 Hours of Nurburgring, the track whose North Loop was and is referred to as the ”Green Hell”. This remains the biggest racing victory for a diesel-fired vehicle to date, with thanks going to an intelligent package made up of high torque, high fuel economy and finely-honed aerodynamics
An automobile from ALPINA – and cognoscenti know it – is always something special. Packaging is the magic word – to present a car that the informed, sporty and quite emotional ALPINA clientele will appreciate
At the heart of the matter is the 2.0litre diesel, endowed with so much potential by the BMW engineers in Steyr that it achieves just over 100 horsepower per litre in the BMW ALPINA D3. This would be a great result for a high-performance petrol engine, and it’s a sensation coming from a diesel. Garrett, of turbo-charger fame, are able to deliver a new charger that simultaneously achieves high levels of air mass through-put with outstanding responsiveness. ALPINA engineers performed intensive development work on the injection system, burn pattern, inter-cooling and exhaust gas emissions (particle filter). The result: 200hp (147kW) at 4,000rpm
What makes this automobile special? First off – it works brilliantly in times of out-of-hand fuel prices. Torque: at 410Nm/302lbs-ft much like a V8 engine. Performance: 0-100kph in 7.4 seconds, with a top speed of 238kph, much like a six-cylinder. Fuel economy: at 6-7 litres per 100km, more like a small commuter car. A truly dynamic automobile that doesn’t first create false hopes by shooting away from rest at low revs, only to peter out at higher revs. Instead, the 2.0litre loves to rev, in the hopes that its owner will co-operate fully and happily with both it and the buttery-smooth-shifting 6-speed ZF manual gearbox
When served in this manner – thanks to the enervating drivetrain – an unsuspected level of driving pleasure reveals itself from the first kilometre on. Precise, direct steering allow driver and automobile to bond, rhythmically swinging from one corner to the next. Upon reaching 100kph on the autobahn, all that needs be done is to select sixth gear, and the driver surfs on a 410Nm wave of torque, constant from 2,000rpm to 3,300rpm. It feels relaxed, even easy, and one has the sense that it’s really a muscle car. Far from it, as the distance-to-empty gauge smirkingly tells the story of 800 – 1,000km to go. Heavy mileage drivers know they’ll have the upper hand against every sports car
ALPINA doesn’t just stand for fun, but also for a clear conscience – which brings us to the topic of particulates. We assure you that you’ll still be able to go shopping into the city with each and every new D3, as the D3 has a diesel particulate filter standard. That said, not even Germany’s Energy Minister, Juergen Trittin, can say anything bad about this sporty car
Light-footed, exceptionally agile handling is immediately noticeable, with an agility not previously found in diesel vehicles. The secret is the ideal, 50%/50% front/rear weight bias, along with a suspension committed to soaking up bumps and providing Swiss levels of neutrality at the limit. The light, MICHELIN-shod 18” ALPINA CLASSIC wheels demand this agility, with of 225/40 ZR18 dimension front and 255/35 ZR18 rear. In configuring state-of-the-art MICHELIN tyres, we purposely chose conventional tyres over the much heavier Run-Flats. Optional 19” wheel/tyre packages, in CLASSIC or DYNAMIC design, provide the highest levels of lateral acceleration
Quite dynamic and yet elegant in appearance is ALPINA’s little one, the D3, with a nod to the wind-tunnel-optimised aerodynamic work done at the front and the rear.
The best for last: the BMW ALPINA D3 has a highly attractive base price, a down-right steal, and thereby effectively removing price as a hurdle for clients new to ALPINA.