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Subtle interior
embellishments let
you know this isn’t
an ordinary 5 Series
G ently cruising away from Alpina GB’s
comfortable – but they also have adjustable side
bolsters to keep you in place when you do have a
chance to put the hammer down. The Lavalina leather
Alpina-logoed steering wheel is lovely to hold and has
additional white stitching on this car which along with
the floor mats that are trimmed in white leather help
to draw the exterior colour into the interior.
Of course this being an Alpina there are a myriad of
additional interior options for your leather with Alpina’s
craftsmen able to do just about anything you want,
and of course there’s the full gamut of the BMW
optional equipment list to choose from, too. On the
back of the wheel at three and nine o’clock are the all-
important buttons for the Switch-Tronic gearbox mode
and up ahead of the wheel are the trademark Alpina
blue dials with a speedo that tantalisingly reads to
200mph and a rev counter that’s redlined at
6600rpm. Optional Piano black trim adorns the
interior and personally I do prefer it to the traditional
Alpina wood. Completing the interior are discrete
Alpina rhombs on the seat backs plus the all-
important production plaque that announces that this
is indeed car number 001.
So it’s a nice interior, but let’s face it that’s not the
reason you’re going to buy a B5 is it? No, thought not.
Our arrival at the beginning of the A50 coincides with
snapper Smith asking from the passenger seat “what’ll
she do mister”? Practical demonstrations speak so
much louder than words so I slip the gear lever over
to the left, select the Sport setting with the switch next
to the gear lever, scan up ahead and behind for traffic
and the boys in blue and put the hammer down.
So many things happen almost instantaneously that
it’s hard to keep track of what’s going on. The eight-
speed auto shuffles its ratios imperceptibly in a matter
of milliseconds, the discrete V8 murmur increases its
decibel level and as the rear squats down the scenery
erupts into a blur while all the time it feels like the
Nottingham HQ, I can’t help but wonder
whether someone’s playing a very
elaborate practical joke on me. The B5
Bi-Turbo is just so refined, so cosseting
and so smooth that it seems hard to believe that this
car is capable of tearing up the tarmac alongside most
modern supercars. There’s an effortless quality to the
car and its sharp new suit effectively disguises the
muscles hidden within.
I’ve only been behind the wheel for a few minutes
and I’ve already gelled with the B5. I feel as if I could
quite happily crush a continent in an afternoon. The
standard F10’s cockpit is a very pleasant place to
spend wheel time and while Alpina hasn’t gone mad
with the spec of this, its first car off-the-line, there are
still plenty of Alpina embellishments to let you know
that this isn’t your run-of-the-mill 520d. The standard
fit Comfort seats are just that – supremely
26 BMW car
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Comfort seats are trying to swallow you. Each upshift is
accompanied by a mini sonic boom from the exhaust
and in matter of seconds the speedo’s delicate red
needle is arcing round towards the section that
should really be marked ‘prison stretch’ rather than
with three digit numbers. Time to back off then.
Alpina claims a 0-62mph time of 4.7 seconds and
a top speed of 191mph for the B5 Bi-Turbo but as is
generally the case with Buchloe’s finest, these figures
seem to be wildly conservative. Relentless seems to
be one of the best words to describe the B5’s
accelerative urge… it feels unburstable, reeling in the
horizon no matter what speed you’re going at. Its
weight counts against it getting away from the line but
once you’re on the move the 4.4-litre V8 takes a
deep breath, fills its lungs with fuel and is force-fed
oxygen with such ferocity that your brain simply
struggles to keep up. Quick just doesn’t cover it, or
even come remotely close as the B5 on a charge
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accelerates with the sort of savage ferocity that you’d
generally only experience on a race track.
The motive power for this supercar masquerading
as a four-door saloon is the same twin-turbo 4395cc
90-degree V8 that we first sampled in the B7 Bi-
Turbo last year and while it’s based on the unit found
in the 550i/750i, Alpina has carried out its usual
comprehensive makeover rather than just upping the
turbo boost and hoping for the best. The head and
block are more or less the same as the ones BMW
use, but hidden inside are a set of Mahle pistons
produced to Alpina’s specification. The pair of
turbochargers that nestle in between the cylinder
banks are also new and have been developed in
conjunction with Honeywell-Garrett and have 44mm
vanes to provide additional boost.
Cooling is always an issue on these engines and as
a result Alpina has installed three bespoke Behr
Thoroughly reworked
BMW V8 now good for
over 500hp and has enough
torque to move mountains
28 BMW car
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