We’re frequently explained to that Alpina is all about ‘filling niches’ unexplored by BMW, and especially its M division.
On the surface area, this would seem like a wise strategy. Why decide fights with autos that glimpse identical to yours and that are virtually flawlessly matched in efficiency conditions, but happen to don a letter on their bootlids that practically everybody understands and admires (whilst the new BMW XM will exam this to breaking issue)?
Have been it only that basic. In truth, Alpina’s vehicles can not be viewed as simply as straight substitutes for M goods in which M products and solutions will not exist – the DNA is mainly shared but the personalities shockingly different, and so the niche-filling technique is not desired, and almost never if at any time executed in the strict sense.
Take into account the current range. The flagship Alpina B8 Gran Coupé co-exists with the BMW M8 Gran Coupé, the (a short while ago retired) B7 with the M760Li, the XB7 with the X7 M60i, B5 with M5, B3 with M3, and we won’t mention the numerous diesel offerings for the reason that it is a great deal the very same tale. The reality is that with an M3 Touring currently declared, the only true market-filler in the Alpina line-up is the B5 Touring.
Or at least it was until now. While the preceding Alpina B4 arrived in only two-doorway coupé kind and with performance to seriously concern its M4 cousin, the new B4 comes in only four-doorway Gran Coupé guise. BMW doesn’t make an M4 Gran Coupé, so if you want a 4 Collection with back doorways and almost as substantially torque as a Ferrari F8 Tributo, the B4 Gran Coupé is your only wager.
At £79,900, it’s also an pricey 1, while even a fundamental BMW M4 Competitiveness now expenses £78,000, so perhaps the Alpina is truthful benefit, relatively talking. Neither is there any skimping on components. The identical M-built 3.-litre straight six very first observed in the amazing Alpina B3 sits up front with 488bhp and 538lb ft. It is an elephantine torque output and is set to all four wheels by way of an Alpina-fettled 8-speed ZF torque converter. There is also an electronically controlled LSD at the rear, moreover the exact same raft of powertrain cooling and strengthening modifications discovered in the B3.
But lest you believe the B4 GC is just a reskinned B3 saloon, know that new underfloor bracing at the rear as properly as artful, skeletonised strut braces in the motor bay and a stiffer entrance anti-roll bar make the chassis a lot more torsionally rigid. The larger, 20in wheels also give the vehicle the exact same substantial get in touch with patch as the 600bhp B5.
For the reason that of the enhanced rear traction this provides, Alpina has manufactured the torque split less neutral than that of the B3 and additional rear biased. Equally, the B4 Gran Coupé’s marginally taller sidewalls ought to also give it superior trip convenience than that of the B3. All in, it’s a auto conceived firmly in the extended-snouted GT mould, mixing very long motorway legs with severe cross-nation tempo. On paper, the B4 is additional capable than the B3, inspite of remaining 3mph slower, topping out at 187mph – faster than any M-auto besides the M5 CS.
It all seems quite grand but the magic of the B4 is how it manages to sense intuitive in pretty much any atmosphere. On motorways, it really is wonderfully refined and cozy, and even though you frequently do not want it, the Alpina-precise Consolation Moreover damper setting gives the vehicle this kind of a cushioned and fluent ride for some thing putting on 20in wheels. Living with an M4 can be tiring at situations but the B4 borders on the therapeutic for one thing that’ll lunge to 62mph in 3.7sec (which, incidentally, matches the hardcore new BMW M4 CSL to the pretty tenth).