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Headline:BMW M5 vs. Alpina B10 V8Date:01/12/2001
Source:FastSaloons.com   (Click Here for more details).OurRoadTests
   
Review:Not exactly a like for like test the B10 was a semiautomatic and a touring (estate). On paper the M5 is superior but we are talking serious machinery on both sides. I don't like automatics which poses an issue for the Alpina.

The Alpina was up first - a famous car 'B10 EST' that has featured in a couple of Car Mag reviews. Silver car, never been too big a fan of the touring shape - but it works pretty well in this color. Immediate reactions when sitting in the cabin are that it is very similar to my B10 3.3 (as I spose you'd expect) but after two 5-series I love the car but crave something different from the interior.

The auto box is 5 speed and has steering wheel flippers to shift up and down. Driving the car it is obvious it is fast but it is easy to drive fast or slow. It handles speed deceptively even more so than my 3.3 - the auto box probably helps too. The test drive lasted c. 1hr and took in dual-carriageway, A roads and B roads. On all of these the Alpina can drive at speed with confidence - to me this is one of the characteristics of the Alpina - they are fast but that not really the point. Take the two B10s - the 3.3 was created to give the advantage of the V6 rack and pinion steering with the power of the V8s - the V8 is not an M5 rival it is an alternative a fast, luxury car which is very capable whatever the road surface.

The last 20 minutes was spent in heavy traffic and the auto was relaxing. It also gave me a chance to play with the toys - like sat nav which I have not got in the 3.3.

Next up the M5, blue with two tone leather seats. Within 50-100 yards of the garage I have an uncontrolled smile on my face. There is something about the car maybe it is the 5litre V8, maybe it is the different dash with light up rev counter, maybe it is the thicker steering wheel. Whatever it is, I think that it is fair to say I love this car. The six speed manual is great and the power is a lot more obvious, unlike the Alpina you are aware of the speed (although you are not worried by it). Acceleration is hard and intoxicating but the car is fun to drive slowly - and obviously in this day and age this is a very good thing.

So the M5 is my winner just for sheer enjoyment. I can't say how much of this decision is down to the autobox - I imagine quite a lot but as the B10 V8 only comes as an auto - thats the decision that we are going to have to live with.
Cars:(1)BMW 5 series M5 (E39 (98-03))
(2)Alpina B10 V8 (E39 (10/98-08/00))

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