Progress report: Alpina B6 2.8 vs Alpina B3 Touring – Top Gear

Cor.

Exactly. If you desire a BMW without any of the iffy image, you get an Alpina: the Bimmer that’s been to Buchloe for a Queer Eye remodeling, emerging a bit less pugnacious and wearing more magnificent accessories.

Doubtful font style on the B3’s number plate aside, these two have actually nailed it. Up front, we have the remarkable and quite dinky Alpina B6 2.8, time distorted from Eighties Bavaria onto a Northamptonshire B-road looking as perfect as the day it was born. Skulking behind it, a new Alpina B3 Touring. Various badges– and entirely different body shapes– but the very same principle: take a 3 Series and give it snazzier trim, a gutsier engine and a comfier flight.

Coupe vs estate does not appear a reasonable battle.

It’s a representative one. Back in the good old days, people enjoyed a little two-door saloon car. Now, Tourings represent more than 80 percent of the Alpina B3s imported to the UK. Maybe that can be blamed on the lack of an M3 Touring in BMW display rooms, something that’s about to alter. We suspect the B3’s more small grille might still edge it for some.

Surely there’s a space in their efficiency …

They’re separated by 40 years, and the numbers betray it: the older car’s 200bhp, produced at 6,200 rpm by a 5 Series straight-six squeezed into the engine bay with nary a millimetre to extra, plays the 462bhp and effortless turbocharged punch of the B3.

Its 3.0 6cyl engine is a relation of the new M3’s however produces more torque thanks to Alpina’s smaller, more responsive twin turbos. At a hair under two tonnes, it weighs practically two times as much as its 1,275 kg forefather, yet its 3.9 secs and 186mph claims are 3 seconds and almost 50mph much better than the B6’s.

Aren’t Alpinas suggested to be comfortable?

Whatever about the dinky B6 suggests it’s going to be an extremely put up little sports cars and truck, the distilled spirit of M3 prior to BMW made such a thing. The most overwhelming thing about it is just how plushly it trips– and how efficiently it steers. It’s like a small GT that so happens to possess neon seat material and a willingness to wear its way to the redline when the motorist gets rid of any pretence of maturity.

It’s got five equipments, 5th basically being an overdrive that pops it into ‘country-swallowing mode’, assisted by an optional 100-litre fuel tank. How I ‘d like to leave its kind-hearted owner Alun in the layby and use every last drop.

Please don’t.

I will not, not least since he’s doted over this vehicle for 25 years. Made in 1981, it’s number 278 of 533 examples of the B6 2.8, of which simply 80 remain. A mere 3 of those are in the UK, all left-hand drive, betraying the fact it was never officially brought here– Alpina imported a different tune of the E21 3 Series to these shores, the C1, which had a smaller engine and more hardcore nature. The fact most Alpinas since have tended towards convenience might recommend the B6 is the one we should have had …

Is that a segue into a description of the B3?

You betcha. First impressions may suggest this Touring offers only a surface-deep fond memories journey, the B6’s green and blue dials now replicated in TFT while its crazy trim is echoed simply in the B3’s guiding wheel stitching, the seats rather using velvety, Rolls-Royce-grade leather. Seriously.

When you’ve experienced its transcendent velocity, helped by the requirement (and periodically mischievous) xDrive AWD, the B3 will play the gentlemanly GT simply as convincingly as its ancestor. Though while its (and your) natural disposition is to unwind, there’s a sense of humour entwined through its complex chassis tech that implies you’ll stress over neither its kerb weight nor its absence of purist RWD in corners, which it negotiates with an accuracy that had me repeatedly browsing its spec sheet in vain for four-wheel-steering. Proper 3 Series skill, then, but with a stylish veneer (and nattier detailing) pulled comfortably over the top. Simply as Alpinas always were.

Photography: Mark Riccioni

With thanks to Alun Parry for the loan of his wonderful B6 2.8

Questionable typeface on the B3’s number plate aside, these two have actually nailed it. Up front, we have the quite dinky and glorious Alpina B6 2.8, time deformed from Eighties Bavaria onto a Northamptonshire B-road looking as perfect as the day it was born. Now, Tourings account for more than 80 per cent of the Alpina B3s imported to the UK. Made in 1981, it’s number 278 of 533 examples of the B6 2.8, of which just 80 remain. As soon as you’ve experienced its transcendent acceleration, aided by the requirement (and occasionally naughty) xDrive AWD, the B3 will play the gentlemanly GT simply as convincingly as its forefather.

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