Is the Alpina B3 a Worthy Alternative to the BMW M3?

In the inner cycles of BMW enthusiasts one question always arises: Alpina B3, or ‘the standard’ M3? For those who prefer a wagon high-performance BMW, the question used to have an easy answer but with the body style officially set to debut for the official M3 lineup, it has gotten harder to decide.
Is the Alpina B3 a Worthy Alternative to the BMW M3? 8 photos
Photo: Alpina Burkard Bovensiepen GmbH & Co. KG
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After hundreds of hours of testing on public roads and racetracks such as the Nurburgring, the new M3 is set to begin sales next year.

For those who cannot wait until then, the high-performance Alpina B3 is available and it is the most powerful B3 ever made.

For the first time, the Bavarian manufacturer of a high-performance version of BMW cars uses an M engine as a base, rather than a standard BMW powertrain like it had in the past.

Alpina’s version of the S58 gasoline direct-injection straight-six 3.0-liter engine features re-engineered Bi-Turbo charging and an improved, performance-optimized cooling system.

Other improvements are flow-optimized turbine housings, improved cross-sections in the air intake system, and a large air intake housing to ensure excellent responsiveness.

Alpina B3
Photo: Alpina Burkard Bovensiepen GmbH & Co. KG
The engine uses an innovative exhaust gas treatment technology with gasoline particulate filters to deliver maximum performance while also reducing emissions and fuel consumption.

The redesigned exhaust system has a twin tailpipe setup, is made from stainless steel, and reduces exhaust backpressure to a minimum. The exhaust valves are controlled by the available driving modes and will play a different tune in Sport+ compared to Comfort.

The car reaches a maximum torque of 700 Nm (517 ft/lb.), which is readily available from 2,500 rpm, and, added to the 462 hp output, provides a smooth and linear power delivery that will allow the B3 to reach a maximum speed of 303 kph (189 mph) with the sedan body style and 300 kph (187 mph) for the Touring.

Using the Launch Control function that allows drivers to accelerate while benefitting from optimum traction and the xDrive all-wheel-drive technology, the B3 can accelerate from 0 to 100 kph (0 to 62 mph) in just 3.8 seconds (3.9 seconds for the Touring).

All that torque is managed by the 8-Speed Sport-Automatic 8HP76 SWITCH-TRONIC transmission that is developed by German gear experts, ZF, and is considered by many as one of the best 8-speed automatic transmission around.

Alpina B3 Interior
Photo: Alpina Burkard Bovensiepen GmbH & Co. KG
It offers a wide choice of shift modes, ranging from comfort to super sporty, and receives a custom software which was developed by a mixed team of Alpina and ZF engineers specifically for the B3.

For a more hands-on feel, drivers can enable manual shift mode and control gear changes using the CNC machined solid aluminum shift paddles on the back of the steering wheel.

When the Sport+ driving mode is also enabled, automatic up-shifts near the redline are disabled to give experienced drivers even more control.

Alpina is renowned for building extremely powerful cars that feature an equal level of comfort, so the car’s suspension has also been upgraded with sport springs and stiffer anti-roll bars.

On the outside, we are treated to beautifully crafted front and rear bumpers and side skirts that emphasize the design of the 3 Series BMW better than any M-exclusive body parts.

Alpina B3
Photo: Alpina Burkard Bovensiepen GmbH & Co. KG
The elegant Alpina wheels are fitted with ultra-performance ALP-marked Pirelli P Zero tires specifically designed for this car by the Italian tire manufacturer.

The Alpina B3 is a marvelous car as the attention to detail and performance are staggering. It is the latest edition in an extensive line of highly sought-after versions of performance BMW.

Whether it is a better car than the M3 is difficult to answer, as it highly depends on individual taste and not just comparing stat sheets. There is no doubt though that it is a legitimate and equally potent alternative for its M Performance counterpart.
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About the author: Vlad Radu
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Vlad's first car was custom coach built: an exotic he made out of wood, cardboard and a borrowed steering wheel at the age of five. Combining his previous experience in writing and car dealership years, his articles focus in depth on special cars of past and present times.
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