The debate over which to buy; the BMW M3 or ALPINA B3; has always been an interesting one. While it mostly comes down to which you value more; performance or comfort; one of the ALPINA’s biggest advantages over its M Division cousin has been its wagon body style. The fact that the ALPINA B3 has almost always been available as a wagon has made it more desirable than the M3 for many enthusiasts. Now, though, that advantage is gone, as the next-gen BMW M3 Touring is on its way.
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Admittedly, due to its exclusivity, by the BMW M3 Touring arrives, the ALPINA B3 Touring might be all sold out. However, after the 3 Series’ LCI refresh, there should be another batch of ALPINAs on the way. So fans should be able to cross-shop the two cars.
If that does indeed happen, fans will have a very interesting decision to make. Both the ALPINA B3 Touring and upcoming BMW M3 Touring will actually use the same basic engine, BMW M’s S58 engine. It’s the first time that ALPINA has used an M engine and not a standard BMW engine as its starting point. Of course, the ALPINA version will have its own tweaks and it will have less horsepower but more torque, but they’ll essentially be starting from the same place.
If history is anything to go by, the BMW M3 Touring will also be the sharper, more dynamic car of the two, with a genuine motorsport feel to it. While the ALPINA B3 will be a smoother and more refined but still a brutally fast machine, just one more built for the everyday. But I think the choice between the two cars will come down to different reasons.
One of which will be style. The BMW M3 Touring will certainly looks more aggressive than the ALPINA B3 Touring but it will also have the same new snout as every other M3 or M4. Now, that’s honestly forgiven due to its wagon body style, however, the ALPINA B3 has the same wagon body style and a more appropriate grille. We’ve all seen the B3 and we all know what the M3 is going to look like by now and, with that knowledge in mind, the B3 is the better looking car. It will also have a more luxurious interior that will be better for everyday life.
Another reason will be exclusivity. That can either work for or against the ALPINA B3. It will work for it because that exclusivity will make it more desirable for many customers. Anyone with enough money can go and buy an M3 at their local dealer. But getting a slot to buy a limited-run ALPINA B3 Touring is not only more difficulty but requires more patience, desire and taste. So some fans might truly appreciate that exclusivity. However, because it’s limited (or at least it is for the foreseeable future), that might cause a lot of fans to miss out on it, who will then be forced to buy the M3 Touring instead.
On the flip side of that, the BMW M3 Touring will only be sold for a couple of years, as it’s set to go on sale in 2023-ish and the M3’s life-cycle ends in 2025. So the long-roof M3 will have a bit of exclusivity of its own. Plus, it’s the first of its kind, so it will have a newfound desirability.
The last reason has to be the transmission choice. BMW has yet to confirm whether or not the M3 Touring will be sold with a manual transmission but when you consider that the M3 Sedan will have one, it stands to reason that it will get one also. If it does, the appeal of a rear-wheel drive, manual M3 wagon might be strong enough to get fans to overlook all else.
If it were my money (and I lived in a market that offered them), this would be a very tough choice. On one hand, I love the ALPINA brand dearly and would buy any product it puts out. On the other hand, BMW is finally offering an M3 Touring and not buying one would feel like a wasted opportunity. So I think I’d have to choose the M3 Touring, which bucks my trend of typically choosing ALPINAs. BMW M is finally going to make the damn thing, after years and years and years of a complaining fanbase begging for one, so we need to actually buy it. So that would be my choice. Which would you choose?