ALPINA Register Header Image ALPINA Register Header Image ALPINA Register Header Image ALPINA Register Header Image ALPINA Register Header Image ALPINA Register Header Image ALPINA Register Header Image ALPINA Register Header Image ALPINA Register Header Image ALPINA Register Header Image
ALPINA Register Header Image ALPINA Register Header Image ALPINA Register Header Image ALPINA Register Header Image ALPINA Register Header Image ALPINA Register Header Image ALPINA Register Header Image ALPINA Register Header Image ALPINA Register Header Image ALPINA Register Header Image
ALPINA register Home menu ALPINA Register Stats menu ALPINA Register News and Reviews menu ALPINA Register menu ALPINA Register Classified menu ALPINA Register Out and About menu ALPINA Register Downloads menu ALPINA Register Forum link ALPINA Register Header Image ALPINA Register Header Image

Headline:theALPINAregister.com B3 Bi-turbo Coupe road testDate:24/07/2007
Source:The ALPINA Register   (Click Here for more details).OurRoadTests
   
Review:theALPINAregister.com B3 Bi-turbo Coupe road test

 
 

theALPINAregister.com
Review

 

BMW ALPINA
B3 Bi-Turbo Coupe




 
   
 

Bi-Curious

The speculation about the new B3 started a long time ago. Back then much of this was about the powertrain that ALPINA would choose to use.

Options openly discussed were:

(a) To use the H1 engine, a supercharged 4.4-litre V8, already in use by ALPINA in its 5 Series based B5, 6 Series based B6 and 7 series based B7. That would have been a phenomenal choice but ultimately a bit bonkers given it produces nigh on 500 bhp and 516 lbs-ft.

(b) To use a naturally aspirated V8, likely to have been based on the 4.8-litre found in the 550i and 750i, an obvious choice given Audi, BMW and Mercedes have all gone down this route.

(c) To use a forced-induction six cylinder engine.

Given the H1 engine used a newly designed and ALPINA patented supercharger, I have to admit my money was on this option. However, ALPINA also has a long history with turbos and in particular had made a hero-car based on a bi-turbo (the B10 bi-turbo).

As things panned out the first two options were discounted in terms of weight compromises and so too was the use of a supercharger. The final decision being a car based on the already lauded 335i engine, a car that was soon to become known as the B3 Bi-turbo.

The B3 Bi-turbo was officially unveiled in saloon form at the Geneva International Motorshow in March 2007. The car promised power of 355 bhp (360hp / 265 Kw) and loads of torque (369 lbs-ft / 500 Nm). Performance was quoted at 0-62mph in just 4.9 seconds, with a top speed of 177mph (285Kph).

More recently I was fortunate to be powered up Goodwood Festival of Speed’s hill climb in the passenger seat of a B3 Bi-turbo Coupé. This car was a first for ALPINA being that it was the first ever right hand drive car used by ALPINA to debut a new model. Also, it was the first time that ALPINA debuted a car away from a major (Tokyo, Frankfurt, Geneva) motor show. The car was certainly very desirable and felt very fast indeed.

Now I find myself looking at B3 Bi-turbo coupe 001. (Whilst the car at Goodwood was the first car to be unveiled, the factory car always gets the honour of 001, with the UK car having plaque number 004)

Exterior Styling

ALPINA used Geneva to re-launch one of its’ two signature colours, ALPINA Green, the new colour is officially known as ALPINA Green II. So it is no surprise then that the car I am looking at now is clothed in the lovely deep/ rich Green.

 


ALPINA styling improves the looks of Coupe
When I saw ALPINA Green II at Geneva, at the time in the form of a B6 Cabrio, I wasn’t totally won over by the colour. It is a very changeable colour and seemed a little dull under the show lights and to my mind reduced the visual impact of the 6 series shape. At the time I thought ALPINA stripes may have sorted this out, but the powers that be had chosen not to add them. Good news now though, as the B3 in front of me, not only has stripes but is free of the artificial lighting of an exhibition hall.

As usual the ALPINA styling changes are kept to a minimum but are still hugely effective.

From the side things are identical bodywork-wise, however the introduction of the striking 19 inch alloys, available in either Classic (traditional 20 spoke ALPINA wheels) or Dynamic (the newer design featuring 5 sets of 4 spokes) changes the looks completely. Things get a little interesting when it comes to the wheels. The Classic wheels fitted to the B3 aren’t the same as those fitted to the current sister car, the 320d based BMW ALPINA D3. In fact the width of the wheels, and subsequently the depth of the dish have had to be reduced in order to clear the larger brakes that are fitted to the car, and still maintain the steering’s desired rolling radii. If you choose the Dynamic wheels then the design negates the need for any changes and therefore the wheels are exactly the same as those found on the D3.

Looking at the car from the rear the key points are the boot mounted rear lip spoiler. This helps to finish off the car’s shape as well as functionally adding to the car’s stability. Next and probably most striking are the 4 exhaust tips helpfully reinforcing that this car is not to be messed with.

The exhausts themselves are a talking point all of their own, given that they are the first to feature floating tips. This is a design becoming more popular and already in use by a variety of manufacturers including Audi. The idea is that by separating the visible part of the exhaust the effects of heat are no longer passed on in either the looks; as a hot exhaust expands the tips and alters the amount that they protrude out of the rear of the car (up to 30mm in some cases). More importantly from a safety prospective the tips no longer a) extend and b) get anywhere near as hot and therefore be less of a risk to people walking past. (ALPINA have extreme tested the new system and found that at the very most, the tips registered 70c, considerably lower than a traditional exhaust system). One funny aspect about non-fixed exhaust tips is that they just don’t look good cold, due to the fact that the tips “shrink” back into the chassis under the rear bumper...”shrinkage”, men everywhere can understand that concept...

If you look beneath the car you will actually see that the car has two exhaust pipes running down the length of the car, ending with the four tail pipes

So how does the B3 look as a complete car? Well it works extremely well; the front and rear are completed, the shape being subtly altered by the additional ALPINA bodywork. The wheels add purpose and more importantly fill out those hard to fill Bangle-designed wheel arches. The colour is not to all tastes, as with any green car, but certainly adds some drama to the e92 shape. Finally the ALPINA stripes tie the look together and hone the shape even further.

 

Interior Styling

  Inside the B3 you can expect all the normal ALPINA touches on top of a generous BMW spec. ALPINA dash, wood, steering wheel, gear stick and seats set the cabin apart from lesser BMW models as too does the ceiling mounted unique plaque and ALPINA door entry plates.

 

Good spec and ALPINA flourishes make for a great interior
The UK Specification for the car has yet to be decided, as has the official UK price for the car. But the messages we are receiving are good spec and good price. For good spec read: Electric heated Leather seats, Sat Nav, Bluetooth, sun roof… For good price expect it to begin with a four.

Car 001 does have most of the ALPINA touches. It has the attractive blue dials reading up to 310Km (the UK dials read up to 190mph) and revving up to 7000 rpm limit. Accompanying the dials are orange needles that make for what is a very clear and striking dash. The steering wheel is finished in ALPINA Lavalina leather and stitched in blue and green. The wheel also has metallic detailing on its lower inside edges. The standards seats are finished with an ALPINA roundel, if you prefer though virtually anything is possible when it comes to the interior, thanks to the in house upholstery department.


The B3 is only available with the ALPINA SWITCH-TRONIC system, a semi-automatic gearbox that ALPINA introduced in 1993 (At the time ALPNA was the first manufacturer to offer such a system). SWITCH-TRONIC has been improved over the years such that it now provides fast gear changes (, with upshifts under full load now taking less than 100milliseconds). Unlike many semi-automatic gearboxes the ALPINA system does hold onto gears regardless of the revs, truly behaving like a manual box. Like most systems gear changes are either totally automatic or manually made either by sliding the gear lever over to the left and knocking it up and down to change gears, or by using the rear mounted steering wheel buttons. Currently no manual box is available or planned.

 
 

Ride, Handling & Steering

  Like all ALPINA models the B3 was extensively tested in parallel with BMW, and so its suspension components have been altered to suit the car’s unique requirements. In this case ALPINA uses a mixture of BMW and bespoke components in order to achieve the best setup for the car.

 


Ride and Handling balance spot on.
In the coupe and cabrio versions the shocks are the same as found in the 335i Sport models, whereas in the saloon and touring the shocks are left as the standard 335i ones. The coil springs are Sport versions on all B3s. The rear subframe bushings are those normally found on the 335d, and the secondary springs are a mixture of 335xd at the front and Sport at the back. Finally the front stabilisers are sport at the front and a bespoke rear stabiliser at the rear which is actually smaller than the standard 335i one. The reason for using the different stabilisers is for better turn-in and more safety at the limit. The suspension geometry is shared with the D3 (but not with any BMW) and finally of course the wheels and tyres all work together to improve the car’s ride and handling characteristics.

In practice the ride is exactly as you expect from an ALPINA very good, refined and very stable at high speeds.

On exploring the handling the first thing that is clear is that this is a very powerful car. Liberal use of the right pedal results in immediate action behind you. Luckily the electronic systems onboard keep you in check, but it’s a reminder of the power that you have on tap. Not that the car is a handful to drive, far from it, just that you have a lot of power and torque to play with. The feeling is quite familiar to me as my own BMW ALPINA is the e36 based B8 4.6, which has a 4.6-litre V8 (as found in the B10 V8) and a handy 333bhp / 347 lbs-ft of torque, The B3 and B8 feel very similar.

Natural handling tends to mild understeer, but with so much power on tap and a confident driver you should be looking at a well balanced coupe. Again, reflecting the 50:50 weight distribution which underlies the car.

As this was a first drive we didn’t get to explore the car over long distances, equally as we were in Germany most road surfaces were very good. However what we can say are that signs are good both in terms of ride and handling.

Steering-wise the car is heavier than expected when you manoeuvre at low speeds. But this weighting is just right when you are on the move. Feel is quite good and the turn in sharp and inspires confidence. ALPINA shuns the use of active steering in the same way it refuses to use run flat tyres, both are a compromise too far.

The tyres are also worth a mention as they also differ from the D3, which uses 19 inch 235/35 and 265/30 on the front and rear respectively. On the B3 the tyres on the front are wider (245/35) as the B3 simply needed more tyre capacity. If ALPINA had stuck to the original 235 tyres the pressure needed would have been 3.4bar/49psi, the same as used in the B7. In the rear, the aspect ratio climbs from 30% to 35%, but stays the same width. By using the wider front tyre and taller rear tyre, the pressures required are a far lower 2.5bar/36psi, and as a result the car has a more compliant ride whilst also maintaining the performance it needs.

 

Engine, Gearbox and Performance

  The B3 Bi-turbo uses the same 2979cc straight six that is used by the BMW 335i. In order to achieve the increases in power and torque ALPINA wrote all their own software based on the very different needs of the B3, which is then down-loaded at the Munich or Regensburg factories at the end of the production line, just as with a BMW model. In addition, to cope with the extra boost, power and torque, ALPINA have used lighter, stronger MAHLE pistons, machined to tighter tolerances, inside the engine.

 


Power and Torque throughout the rev range.
The result is an engine that produces a peak power figure of 355bhp between 5500 and 6000 rpm, and peak torque of 369 lbs-ft from 3,800 to 5000 rpm. The engine is also pretty high revving continuing up to its 7000prm limit.

The key here though, is not just chasing massive numbers, its is about the driving characteristics and the all round flexibility of the engine. Compare the engine to the new M3 and you will find that the B3 has more power and torque throughout the rev range, with the M3 only exceeding the B3 in terms of power when the revs get beyond 6,500 rpm. As a result, the B3 has all the ammunition it needs to compete with its V8 engined rivals:

    

In terms of delivery there is a slight hesitation from rest, but then there is no looking as the speed builds rapidly and unrelentingly. Official figures put 0-62mph in just 4.9 secs. Our own figures showed a very respectable 5.17 secs to 60mph. Our tests were carried out in 36c/309Kelvin temperatures at just over 2,000ft altitude,and on surfaces that left a lot to be desired. Even more impressive is our 0-100mph speed which arrived in 11.57secs.

Our full acceleration tests were:

Acceleration0-30 0-40 0-50 0-60 0-70 0-80 0-90 0-100
Alpina B3 Bi-turbo (e92 (07 - ))
Official Figures
(4.7)
Alpina B3 Bi-turbo (e92 (07 - ))
The ALPINA Register Figures
(2.39)(3.30)(4.15)(5.17) (6.51)(7.96)(9.57)(11.57)


The SWITCH-TRONIC system is probably the best semi-automatic box I have driven and in this car it proves very usable. I still prefer a manual for spirited driving, but in the real world the system gives a pretty good compromise between hassle-free driving and the joys of full control when you get the opportunity to enjoy the car.

ALPINA have chosen to leave the brakes standard 335i items and I can understand why, as they have good feel and are very positive. Whilst we didn’t test for fade they certainly inspire confidence and pull the car up very quickly, indeed. This was backed up by our Vbox result showing the car braking from 90mph pulled over 1g between 85 – 5mph, with a peak of 1.4g at 79mph, the time to stop was 3.75secs, 60-0mph took just 1.2 secs.

Here another advantage of the engine selection is evident as the B3 is lighter (weighing 1560kg) than its V8 engined rivals. Which obviously helps with acceleration, braking and handling.

 
 

Practicality

 

 

Plenty of Room for four and their luggage.
The e92 coupe is a generous four-seater with a good size boot. Specification is expected to be very good and with the ALPINA touches the car will be a superb grand tourer in terms of refinement and comfort.

Economy wise the B3 shows that it is not a one trick pony, ALPINA has for a longtime been as concerned with economy as much as power and so it is little wonder that the B3 Bi-turbo has figures of:

B3 Bi-turbo*ltr/100kmMpg
Urban14.120.0
Extra Urban7.338.7
Combined9.828.8
* Results shown for Saloon and Coupe. Cabrio values to follow at a later date.


In terms of emissions, the new engine is Euro IV compliant and has a figure of 234g/km

 

Conclusion

  The B3 Bi-turbo on first glance seems to have entered the ring in the wrong weight category. Its competitors all steamed in to the arena with their Heavyweight V8s proudly on display. In comparison ALPINA’s Middleweight six looking seriously underweight. That is of course until the bell rings and the ALPINA punches with full Heavyweight venom.

In many ways ALPINA has been brave to be different in not choosing to use a V8, It may be that they have been there already, I do, after all, drive a ten year old ALPINA which does have V8 in a 3 Series.

In reality though, ALPINA always has its eye on the future and in my mind, which I admit seems at odds to the current offering of super saloons, is that naturally aspirated engine have had their day. The reasons for this are the growing need for economy and power. The two can no longer be considered separately and forced-induction is a the way to address this. Take ALPINA’s own B5 which can happily compete in the 500bhp sector yet still returns decent mpg thanks to the use of a unique supercharger to increase economy and performance.

Another thing in the B3’s favour is the price, which although yet to be announced should slip comfortably below the £50k mark that it’s key rivals are all above. Combine this with a good standard spec and you’ll find the B3 an even more attractive alternative.

The B3 Bi-turbo will be available in all four body types: Saloon, Coupe, Cabrio and Touring. The first three body types will be available from September with the touring following next year.

We expect the B3 to be another success for ALPINA, but thankfully for its rivals it will be a modest success as ALPINA only plans to build a few hundred per year worldwide. After all, ALPINA is in the market of making very exclusive automobiles.

 
Words: Neil
Photos: Andy

 
 
Quick Section Links:         
1. Background
2. Exterior Styling
3. Interior Styling
4. Ride, Handling and Steering
5. Engine, Gearbox and Performance
6. Practicality
7. Conclusion

Related Links:         


B3 Bi-turbo coupe PDF review View this review in a more traditional magazine layout



Our review of the ALPINA D3 Touring



theALPINAregister.com D3 Saloon RoadTest
Our review of the ALPINA D3 Saloon



theALPINAregister.com B5 RoadTest
Our review of the ALPINA B5 Saloon



theALPINAregister.com Roadster S RoadTest
Our review of the ALPINA Roadster S



Photos:         

B3 Bi-turbo Coupe 004 Full Set of Photos taken during this test


B3 Bi-turbo Coupe 001 - B3 Bi-Turbo Coupe World debut Full Set of Photos taken at Goodwood Festival of Speed


B3 Bi-turbo Saloon 002 - B3 Bi-Turbo World debut car Full Set of Photos taken of the debut B3 at Geneva 2007


Other Links:         

ALPINA's UK website

Main ALPINA website

Cars:Alpina B3 Bi-Turbo (e92 (07 - ))

 2825

back
5
Visit our ALPINA Forum www.theALPINAregister.com - the online community for ALPINA owners and enthusiasts www.FastSaloons.com - The Premier Web Resource for Fast Saloons and Fast Sedans