At first glance, you could think of the new 2020 BMW ALPINA B3 as one of many power sedans with high performance demands. With 462 horsepower and 700 Newton meters of torque, over 300 km/h top speed and a 3.8 seconds standard sprint, the ALPINA B3 is without a doubt one of the fastest models you can experience on the G20 3 Series platform. Anyone who deals with the 3er from Buchloe quickly discovers a completely different side of the B3: This merciless performer is addicted to harmony.
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Because where other power sedans strive for ultimate sportiness in the sense of the best possible lap times, the BMW ALPINA B3 always remains committed to everyday life. Performance is, therefore, not defined solely by tenths of a second on the stopwatch, but rather by experiencing sovereignty. And for the engineers under the command of Andreas Bovensiepen, this not only includes the intermediate sprint on the highway or during a brisk overtaking maneuver on the country road, but also the confidence in handling bumps, manhole covers and other obstacles which every driver is confronted with sooner or later.
A Few Laps On The “Small Nurburgring”
For our test drive report, we were allowed to race the new G20 B3 over the demanding Bilster Berg race track. On the 4.2 kilometers circuit with its 19 fast curves, but with steep slopes and demanding climbs, the 3 Series from Buchloe impressed us its special character. Regardless of the asphalt and the driver’s demands from the vehicle, the B3 remains composed like a good concierge – always relaxed and courteous, but with unconditional commitment in fulfilling every wish, no matter how unusual.
Naturally, at high speeds and steep inclines, you can feel the limits of the comfort-oriented setup. But with a tighter set-up, speeds could certainly be higher here. Yet, the ALPINA engineers are okay with this setup. Instead of compromising customers’ everyday lives for exotic and extreme situations on the race track, it is better to see them smiling while having marginally worse lap times.
But if you think the new BMW ALPINA B3 is a soft contender, you can’t be more wrong. Even if it completely lacks excessive hardness, it is by no means too soft for dynamic driving. Despite all the harmony, the B3 turns in extremely quickly, can be precisely positioned in the corner, stays on track even when there are load changes in fast bends and responds robustly to accelerator commands in Sport Plus mode.
An M Engine In The B3
The new B3 owes this not only to the sporty genes of the G20 3 Series, but also to the ALPINA chassis equipped with Eibach components, including an electronically controlled limited slip differential, the Pirelli P Zero tires with specific ALPINA tuning and, of course, the S58 engine from the M Division.
While the engines of earlier ALPINA variants were always based on the powerplants of the regular BMW AG models, the 2020 BMW ALPINA B3 uses the TwinTurbo engine from Garching known from the X3 M and X4 M. But ALPINA went a step further. They changed the engine’s cooling system, along with the turbos and the ECU mapping.
The sport engine, which demands high engine speeds, became the drive of a sovereign cruiser: a lot of torque at low engine speeds creates the basis for the B3 to push forward with total ease, even without starting to turn gears.
As always, the ALPINA folks included special wheels (20 inch on this tester) and a high-performance braking system. The Brembo setup was originally developed for the significantly heavier ALPINA B5, so naturally it shines on the lighter B3.
The eight-speed Switchtronic, which has been coordinated with ZF, might not be as great as a dual-clutch transmission, because its focus is clearly more on the country road and the highway than on the track use. But it’s still quick fast and precise even for demanding customers. You can, of course, use the steering wheel paddles to change the gears.
In keeping with the character of the vehicle, the ALPINA interpretation of the S58 engine initially remains reserved, but under high load, and with the appropriate load speeds, is extremely responsive and robust. The sound is also quite satisfying, which is no surprise coming from ALPINA.
All Grown Up
The bottom line is that the new ALPINA B3 has grown up and doesn’t need any special tricks to impress us. Its customers will appreciate it on all sort of surfaces and will certainly enjoy it during everyday driving. Against this background, the BMW ALPINA B3 Touring fits perfectly into the picture: No less sportier, but even more practical and therefore more powerful in everyday life. So the station wagon may even be a more compelling product than the sedan.
Test drive by our sister-magazine BimmerToday