German manufacturer Alpina reached a tremendous milestone this year – their 50th Anniversary! To celebrate they created two limited edition models of the B5 and B6 Bi-Turbo. We visited their headquarters in Buchloe, an hour out of Munich, to take part in the anniversary festivities and put the Alpina B5 Bi-Turbo Edition 50 to the test.
The 50th anniversary edition of the B5 and B6 are both limited to only 50 units and are available in the unique Alpina Blue and Alpina Green colors. Throughout the car you will find references to the 50 year history of Alpina including a special black/green interior that reflects the B7 S Turbo Coupe from 1982.
All Alpina cars are developed by Alpina and built by BMW. The Alpina B5 Bi-Turbo Edition 50 is no exception. The Alpina 4.4 liter V8 Bi-Turbo delivers 600hp and no less than 800Nm of torque, a record in the 50 year history of Alpina. This allows the rear wheel driven B5 Bi-Turbo Edition 50 to sprint from 0-100 km/h in 4.2 seconds, 0-200 km/h in just 12,7 seconds and reach a top speed of 328 km/h! This makes it one of the fastest limousines in the world.
More power and a higher top speed also require more stopping power; new Brembo brake discs measuring 395mm in size and high temperature brake pads provide the necessary performance and precision.
Alpina was the first manufacturer in the world to use Akrapovic high performance exhausts as standard, since 2011. The titanium exhaust made in Slovenia reduces the weight by 17 kilogram compared to a steel performance exhaust. A large diameter and active flaps provide a powerful V8 sound that can be regulated to different levels. The exhaust tips are surrounded by carbon fibre for an exclusive look.
The Alpina B5 Bi-Turbo Edition 50 comes with lightweight Alpina wheels as standard. The form function design is characterized by the so called side cuts for further weight reduction. In total the wheels save 15,6 kilogram despite their increased size to 9×20” at the front and 10×20” at the rear.
The suspension has been optimized for the high performance and high top speed of the Edition 50 models. In addition the B5 Bi-Turbo Edition 50 comes with Dynamic Drive which reduces body roll while cornering. The mechanical differential and wider track on the rear increase the levels of grip significantly.
We received the keys to our Alpina Blue B5 Bi-Turbo Edition 50 at the company’s headquarter in Buchloe. Directly near the unlimited A96 autobahn and Bavarian rural roads – the perfect location for a mixed route of rural and high-speed roads.
At the touch of the start button the 4.4 liter V8 comes to life with a loud vroom. In neutral the engine runs sovereign ready to explore the surrounding area. We headed South in direction of the Alps on a beautiful sunny day. Even though the Alpina B5 shares the same base chassis as the BMW 5-Series a few meters make clear this is unlike any other BMW we have driven – M5 included.
Alpina owner and son of the founder Andreas Bovensiepen mentioned that their models are not designated to compete with the M-performance range. Instead they provide highly individual, high performance cars that are more setup for the autobahn and sweeping bends than the race track.
The B5 runs through the gears with ease. Using the buttons on the steering wheel, a unique Alpina feature in use long before paddles became the standard on road cars, you can override the automatic gearbox and shift manually. The tremendous torque pushes us deep into the seats under acceleration, from standstill often accompanied with a bit of wheel spin. To make flawless standing starts launch control is also available on the B5.
Driving through small Bavarian villages and over sweeping country roads we could feel that the B5 Edition 50 was hiding something from us. But we couldn’t figure out what it really was.
Alpina is loved around the world. Fans and owners from Japan, Australia, Mexico and many other distant countries travelled to Buchloe to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Alpina. In the US Alpina is sold directly through the dealerships but the model line-up is limited to the B7 and B6 GranCoupe. Alpina is also working hard on acquiring approval to sell its cars in China.
The increased global expansion of Alpina doesn’t mean the heritage or exclusivity of the brand is neglected. Although the production of the Alpina B5 and other Alpina models takes place at the various BMW factories every Alpina makes its way to Buchloe for quality insurance and installation of bespoke parts and interiors.
I won’t go that far in saying Alpina can be compared with Rolls-Royce but just like Rolls-Royce, Alpina builds highly individual cars based on the best BMW has to offer. Talking about Rolls-Royce the Alpina leather workshop comes surprisingly close to the Rolls-Royce workshop in Goodwood which is certainly a compliment for the company from Buchloe.
Continuing our drive through Bavaria we made our way to the A96 autobahn to find out what it is like to really put our foot down in the B5 Bi-Turbo. We accelerated onto the highway and it didn’t take long until the other traffic was nothing but a tiny dot in the mirror. Ahead lay a straight empty stretch and we pressed the accelerator pedal gently to the bottom.
Now this is what the Alpina was hiding from us before. Hardly have we come across a limousine that accelerates so quickly from 200 km/h onwards. It pulled endlessly, we lifted off just shy of 300 km/h as a car appeared in the left lane but there is no doubt the B5 Bi-Turbo keeps propelling forward well above the 300 km/h mark. At the same time the car feels very stable, definitely more stable than some purpose built sportscars.
We turned around and headed back to Buchloe. We comfortably set the cruise control to 200 km/h and reflected on our first experience with the Alpina B5 Edition 50. We loved the power delivery of the Bi-Turbo engine, the acceleration and top speed is mind blowing especially above 120 km/h and the Akrapovic exhaust finishes it off with a great full bodied sound.
Personally I would opt for a different exterior color and interior spec but that is not a problem for Alpina. They asked me to bring my favorite fabric or color sample to create an individual interior or custom exterior color.
I think this car is more balanced for everyday ride than M5. But not inferior emotionally.