I’ve long said that my favorite car that I’ve ever driven was the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG. I know, it’s sacrilege for a BMW to fan to claim a Mercedes-Benz product as their favorite car. However, the SLS AMG was an absolute monster and had more character than any car I’ve driven since. However, one car that’s making a case for my favorite car, possibly a 1A and 1B situation, is the ALPINA B7. After spending a week with the B7, I was absolutely smitten, thanks to its blend of comfort, ballistic performance and sense of specialness. My only complaint about the B7 was that it was a bit too big and heavy. I wished that ALPINA would offer basically the same package but just a bit smaller, more nimble. Turns out it does. It’s called the ALPINA B5 Biturbo.
To me, the ALPINA B5 Biturbo is basically the perfect car. I’m already a big fan of the G30 BMW 5 Series and feel it’s quite possibly the best executive sedan on the planet. So giving it the usual ALPINA treatment just sends it over the top for me. Especially when you consider the fact that it stuffs the same weapons-grade B7 powertrain into the smaller, lighter and more dynamic 5 Series body. As George Takei would say — Oh My.
But then reality sets in. Firstly, I can’t afford a B5. But that I can do something about (even if I have to sell certain organs). Secondly, ALPINA and BMW do not sell the B5 in North America. And that’s a real shame, for multiple reasons.
Before we get into why BMW and ALPINA should sell the B5 Biturbo in the ‘States, let’s first take a refresher course on why it is. The ALPINA B5 Biturbo starts life as a standard 5 Series. The folks at ALPINA then give it the usual visual upgrade, with some new body work and “ALPINA” badges. Then, the interior gets a makeover, with richer leather, nicer wood trim and an overall sense of quality on a level that the standard 5 Series can’t match. It really does feel special inside of any ALPINA.
Under the skin, though, is where the magic happens. ALPINA borrows BMW’s N63 twin-turbocharged V8 and then basically tears it apart. It gets new pistons, a new crankshaft, a new intake system, new exhaust manifold, bigger turbochargers, a new cooling system and a lot more power. So the ALPINA B5 Biturbo makes 608 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque. That mighty motor sends power to an eight-speed ZF automatic and xDrive all-wheel drive. Except the latter two get ALPINA-specific software calibration, so they respond and act better than on a standard 5 Series. Same goes for the rear-wheel steering, which also gets tuned by ALPINA.
All in all, the B5 is capable of 0-60 mph in 3.5 seconds and a top speed of 200 mph. The only production BMW product quicker to 60 mph than the B5 is the BMW M5 and ALPINA has a higher top speed. And this leads me to why ALPINA should sell the B5 here.
It uses the very same engine, in the very same state of tune, as the ALPINA B7, a car it already sells here. And it does so in a car that BMW already sells here, the 5 Series. We’re not asking for the B5 Touring, which is based the wagon version of the 5 Series, as we don’t even get the base car here. So that’s understandable. But it seems as if it’s perfectly reasonable to sell the B5 sedan in the ‘States, as the actual car already passes crash standards and the engine already passes emissions.
Plus, ALPINA is relatively obscure in America. Even in wealthy parts of the country, seeing an ALPINA is a rarity. Only die-hard car enthusiasts even know the company exists. So selling the B5, which is considerably cheaper than the B7 it already sells here, would get more customers. And getting more customers would expand the brand awareness in America. I know ALPINA wants to remain an exclusive automaker, as its exclusivity makes its cars feel that much more special. However, the B5 is still a very expensive car and one that would still sell in very limited numbers. So it’s not like it would exactly turn the company into a volume manufacturer. Selling the B5 in the ‘States would just increase brand awareness a bit and allow us to buy quite possibly the best all-around BMW product on the planet.
So please, pretty please, ALPINA, sell us the brilliant B5 Biturbo. If you do, I just might have to do something shady to afford one.