There are many BMW enthusiasts who would actually prefer an ALPINA to a BMW M car. While that may seem like heresy to purists, ALPINA actually makes some of the best BMWs on the planet, sometimes better than BMW itself. One such example is the ALPINA B4 S, based on a BMW 435i and capable of genuinely competing with the BMW M4, in terms of performance. However, while it’s just as fast as the M4, it offers an entirely different experience and one that’s often preferable to the M Division’s product. In this new review from Top Gear, it seems that they prefer the ALPINA B4 S to the BMW M4.
As previously stated, the B4 S starts life as a standard BMW 435i, with the older N55 engine. Except ALPINA recasts the block and head to accommodate a second turbo, new pistons and a suite of other upgrades. That bumps power from 300 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque to 434 hp and 486 lb-ft of torque. That means it has 10 fewer horsepower than the M4 Competition Package but far more torque, 81 lb-ft to be precise. That extra torque helps it keep up with the BMW M4, despite being heavier and having a slower gearbox.
But performance isn’t the point of an ALPINA. It’s the way it delivers that performance. With silky-smooth delivery and a comfortable ride, the ALPINA B4 S is far preferable to the M4 on public roads. Whereas the M4 is spiky and uncomfortable on bumpy roads, the ALPINA is calm and composed, though always planted. In fact, its softer suspension actually allows the wheels to stay more planted, giving it better grip, where the M4 would normally skip about.
It also sounds better. Not only is the N55 engine a better sounding powerplant than the M4’s S55 engine, but ALPINA uses Akrapovic for its exhaust. It’s tuned to be subdued and not overly brash, which suits the ALPINA’s classier style. That’s good, as the M4 is just loud, though not exactly sonorous. While it makes a lot of noise, it’s just that — noise.
The ALPINA B4 S is also a bit cooler. It looks fantastic and could be the best looking production BMW 4 Series, with its classic ALPINA styling and livery, combined with those gorgeous 20″ wheels. The interior is far classier than an M car’s, as well. There’s no carbon fiber to speak of in the B4 S. Only rich leather, piano black trim, gorgeous wood and exclusivity-proving ALPINA logos.
It may sound like I’m bashing the BMW M4. I’m not. It’s a great sports car and one that can deliver thrills far beyond what the ALPINA B4 S is capable of. But it needs either really smooth, empty switchback roads or a racetrack to do so. The ALPINA B4 S is smooth, comfortable and exciting, making it easier to have fun with on daily roads.