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BMW Alpina B3 Coupé in the sport auto super test: M3 alternative from Alpina

Frank Herzog
Alpina B3 Coupé in the super test
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D he realization, according to which affection in material, emotional or ideal form often and abundantly always flows exactly where everything is already fine, has often led to frustrations. Why do you get more who already have everything? Why is the one who is pampered when everyone is already at his feet?

Before we can possibly spread a bad mood and encourage fatalism even more, let us use a familiar analogy from the automotive sector: There it is also the case that the strongest pieces always get the most: the top models even more horsepower, the fastest even more speed and the best the best of the best on top.

306 hp six-cylinder twin-turbo engine

So it is only in line with proven logic when Alpina uses the strongest base that the factory has in this when building the new Alpina B3 Coupé Genre has to offer: the BMW 335i Coupé. In the Supertest final with the title 'Dream Car', the 306 hp four-seater powered by a brilliant six-cylinder biturbo has earned such brilliant merits in previous services at sport auto that it will be retired from the endurance test next spring is seriously regretted.

With one exception, namely the optional M sports suspension that is perceived as unsuitable in everyday long-distance driving because it rolls very hard in conjunction with the Bridgestone run-flat tires, the optically extremely pleasing 335i Coupé shows alongside an exciting one technical performance a potential for driving pleasure that is unparalleled in this vehicle category.

The fact that Alpina as a 'manufacturer of exclusive automobiles' had to tackle such a challenge, so to speak, increasing what is difficult to increase, has obvious technical reasons: In contrast to the high-revving naturally aspirated engine like the B3 brother in the Geist, the BMW M3, shows, turbo engines generally offer considerably more development potential.

The biturbo paints a table mountain on the torque - diagram

While the 420 hp and up to 8,400 rpm high-revving eight-cylinder aspirator in the M3 Coupé is systematically on the The limit of the mechanical load capacity is operated and here at best by an extremely expensiveIf the speed increase to be bought would elicit additional power, the biturbo engine of the three-unit has an adjustment screw of the highest efficiency and effectiveness: With the increase in boost pressure from originally 0.6 to now 1.1 bar and the associated measures - reduced compression , Modified pistons - it was possible to lift the three-liter six-cylinder in the Alpina B3 into promising performance and torque regions.

Even if the Alpina-BMW, ​​competing with 360 PS, maintains the respectful distance to the M3 (420 PS), it shows very impressively where the hammer hangs in terms of torque. With 500 Newton meters, which build up like a table mountain between 3,800 and 5,000 revolutions, the Alpina B3 surpasses the full range of the M3 by 100 Newton meters. A more moderate maximum speed - 7,000 instead of 8,400 rpm as in the M3 - and a noticeable increase in energy flow in the medium speed range as a nice compensation are the parameters with which the Alpina biturbo can proliferate. In terms of character, it is logically carved from a different cloth: In its less extroverted way, the Alpina B3 is somehow more casual, not quite as dashing, but also less quick-tempered than the four-liter naturally aspirated engine of the M3.

The way in which power is developed in the Alpina B3 is exemplary and based on the basic engine from the 335i: If you don't know, in the B3 you won't be tied to it either has to do with a veritable turbo engine. That means: no delayed response, no slack, no turbo hole. The pressure is powerful, even and smooth. And thanks to the comparatively lower exhaust gas temperatures, consumption remains at a moderate level.

The Alpina B3 dispenses with the loud screaming of revving pleasure, as celebrated by the M3 engine at the end of its speed range. He relies on the guttural phonetics of a motor sovereign who prefers the restrained nuances and the soft tonal colors to the striking onomatopoeia. The lovely in-line six-cylinder sounds exactly as it celebrates its power output: entertaining, energetic, but never vulgar.

Soft tones instead of screams

The performance is accordingly. With a respectful distance from the M3, which is much more sporty in terms of the order, the B3, which is only slightly heavier at 1,634 kilograms, is of course at the forefront of the sports coupé league. The bare numbers read like this: from zero to 100 km /h in 4.9, to 200 km /h in 17.6 seconds. The free development of performance, which is generally not impaired by any artificial interventions at Alpina, reaches its zenith inAlpina B3 at a respectable 285 km /h.

Good choice: six-speed sports automatic from ZF

Once again, it's the casualness, too The 'small' Alpina Coupé was, so to speak, born in the cradle and which then immediately passes over to the driver. This is due, on the one hand, to the refined performance of the biturbo six-cylinder engine, accompanied by the highest level of running smoothness and freedom from vibration, and, on the other hand, to its cooperation with the six-speed sports automatic transmission, which is standard equipment in the Alpina B3 model range - sedan, touring, coupé including the associated all-wheel drive versions.

Thanks to the so-called Switch-Tronic, which can be selected as an alternative to the classic automatic mode, the component contributed by ZF can compete with a sequential manual transmission. Apart from the fact that in the manual shift gate, when the maximum engine speed is reached, the automatic gear change is still carried out and the classic kick-down mechanism has been retained, the machine, which can be operated from the steering wheel with touch buttons, impresses with its extremely fast and elegantly smooth gear changes. The jolt-free selection of the next gear is just as impressive as the technically meaningful and at the same time acoustically entertaining double-declutching number when downshifting.

The coordination between the power and torque curves of the turbo engine on the one hand and the characteristics of the automatic programs on the on the other hand turns out to be a real stroke of luck in everyday life. Only when consciously approaching the limits of driving dynamics are both the kick-down mode and the peculiarity of automatically shifting up when the maximum speed is reached, not always effective. The fact that the automatic system allows practically no interruptions in tractive power, but at the same time acts without nervous upshifts or downshifts and, depending on the accelerator pedal position, is very defined and reliably supports early or late upshifts at certain points, distinguishes it positively from one or the other dual clutch transmission, which is based on the same definition all providers should put the other types of power transmission in the shade. That is apparently not quite the case yet ...

No jerking when changing gears

The less in its entirety Explicitly as a drivetrain trimmed for purely sporting purposes in the M3, the Alpina-typical, logical correspondence in its environment - in other words: sportiness, yes, but please not too excessive. The recommendation to give the biturbo engine an optional additional oil cooler for occasional trips to the racetrack (990 eurosSurcharge), it is enough of a hint that the B3 Coupé was primarily conditioned for purposes other than driving dynamic limit range tests. The chassis, which is primarily geared towards driving comfort with a view to sporting success, is all in all the most convincing evidence of this.

In fact, the Alpina shows a much smoother rolling behavior than the 335i, which is in long-term testing. He swallows short transverse joints without complaint. Long bumps, on the other hand, announce what becomes finally evident with a fast, committed driving style: The comfortably soft setup allows for body movements in both the longitudinal and transverse directions that do not quite match the appearance of a real sports coupé. Presumably, it is also the stabilizers, which tend to be too soft, that are unable to prevent the strong body pressure in curves.

What goes through as acceptable on the comparatively flat terrain of the small circuit in Hockenheim in tough conditions, namely the ride, albeit at an incline, but at least not affected by irritating chassis reactions, becomes a problem on some sections of the Nordschleife: The spring /damper elements of the Alpina B3 go hard against the stop in the event of strong compression, such as occurs in the depression in the Fuchsröhre. This not only makes the substance crackle, but also goes straight to the cross.

In the Fuchsröhre at the stop

The good thing about this voting situation is somewhat sad: The coupé stays open the line, so do not allow yourself any insubordinate lunges. As far as the chassis-side character stability is concerned, the Alpina B3 Biturbo shows extremely commendable behavior anyway. Neither understeer nor oversteer disturbs the driving program. The Coupé is also completely immune to load changes. Whether the BMW Alpina displays these extremely good-natured characteristics thanks to or despite the optional limited slip differential could not be researched on the test object. The Alpina B3, which entered the test without a lock, showed similarly exemplary driving behavior.

At this point, we will spare ourselves the extrapolation of what the Alpina B3 Biturbo Coupé would have torn on the Nordschleife with a sports suspension that would have been more appropriate to its sporty basic structure - not without respectfully pointing out that it is the Nordschleife Round not - like the M3 - tackled with sports tires, but with normal Michelin Pilot Sport. Compared to the M3 time (8.05 min), the 8.14 minutes for the Alpina B3 are extremely respectable.

WithoutSports tires respectable on the road

How well the biturbo-fired BMW Alpina is basically in the forage becomes clear when looking at the maximum speeds achieved on the Ring and in comparison to the nominally 60 hp more powerful M3: On the way to the Schwedenkreuz , On which the M3 accelerates up to 247 km /h, the Alpina B3 brings it to no less impressive 243 km /h. And on the Döttinger Höhe, where the M GmbH athlete, freed from his electronic shackles, reaches 266 km /h, the Alpina pushes at a speed of 261 towards the Tiergarten.

The fact that the offer from Buchloe is not a sporty competition to the M3 according to the specifications drawn up by Alpina itself, but rather a supplement primarily dedicated to everyday demands, does not change the fact that in the concept of the Alpina B3 Biturbo Coupé, viewed overall, more resources become apparent than the makers of M GmbH would like.

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