In the world of high-performance automobiles, there are a few select manufacturers that have earned a reputation for creating exceptional machines, combining raw power with refined luxury. Among them stands ALPINA, an independent German automotive company from Buchloe, known for its dedication to crafting exclusive vehicles based on BMW models. With the sale of its corporate identity and ALPINA brand to its sister company in Munich, it’s time to bid farewell to the B5 model line, one of the most successful ALPINA model lines ever. The G30 / G31 5-Series is no more and has been replaced by the eighth generation of the 5 Series, the new G60 / G61, which won’t have an ALPINA variant moving forward.
To commemorate this farewell, the Bavarians revealed the ALPINA B5 GT, a car that not only carries the illustrious heritage of ALPINA but also pushes the boundaries of performance and driving pleasure. Let’s delve into the rich history of the German brand, explore the performance enhancements made to the B5 GT over the ‘standard’ B5 (which is no longer for sale), and examine its exceptional handling capabilities. Of course, we won’t forget the signature interior upgrades that contribute to the car’s soul and dive into the heart of this beast – its powerful engine.
ALPINA: A Legacy of Performance and Innovation
Before delving into the specifics of the ALPINA B5 GT, it is essential to understand the history and significance of the brand itself. Alpina Burkard Bovensiepen GmbH & Co. KG, commonly known as ALPINA, has a storied past that dates back to the early 1960s. Founded by Burkard Bovensiepen, the company began as an engineering and tuning firm specializing in enhancing BMW vehicles. ALPINA quickly gained recognition for its skill in extracting more power and performance from already potent BMW engines.
With the B5 GT, the Germans refer back to the past while closing the book on the ALPINA 5 Series. The line of models stretches all the way back to the launch of the E12 B7 S, which saw its birth in 1981. Since that moment, we saw vehicles like the ALPINA B7 Turbo (E28) with its digital injection system in 1984 and the impressive ALPINA B10 Bi-Turbo (E34) pass by in 1989. The latter being the fastest production sedan in the world at the time, reaching an astonishing 291 km/h!
But let’s not forget the next three models as well: The ALPINA B10 V8 S (E39) from 2002 with its stroked 4.8-litre V8 unit producing 375 hp, the supercharged ALPINA B5 (E60) in 2005, and the ALPINA B5 Edition 50 (F10), which celebrated the company’s 50th anniversary. All predecessors laid the foundation for the new B5 GT, a final limited edition run of the B5 G30 / G31. Not more than 250 will be built, with about 180 being a Touring and 70 being a Saloon. And yes, all are sold out, and they could have easily sold up to 400. The demand for ALPINA vehicles is immense these days and the highest it’s ever been.
Performance Increase: Unleashing the Beast
At the heart of the ALPINA B5 GT lies a substantial increase in performance compared to its BMW 5-Series base model, the 540i. ALPINA’s engineers have carefully fine-tuned the 4.4-litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine, taking it to new heights in terms of power and torque output. While the standard B5 delivers impressive figures, the GT elevates the driving experience even further.
With the revised flow-optimized intake system and a specially calibrated ECU with turbo boost pressure tweaks, the B5 GT generates 634 horsepower and 850 Nm of torque, an increase of 13 hp and 50 Nm over the stock B5. These enhancements allow the B5 GT to sprint from 0 to 100 km/h (0 to 62 mph) in a blistering 3.2 seconds for the Saloon and 3.4 seconds for the Touring, shaving off valuable tenths of a second compared to its family member. The top speed is equally awe-inspiring, reaching an electronically limited 330 km/h (205 mph) for the Saloon and 328 km/h (204 mph) for the Touring. These numbers are in supercar territory!
ALPINA B5 GT
- Ultimate sleeper
- Available as Saloon and Touring
- Mighty V8 powerplant
- Hefty price tag
- Perculiar interior upholstery choices
- Only 250 pieces, and all sold out
The engine’s soundtrack is a symphony of power and refinement, with a deep and throaty exhaust note that roars to life as the revs climb. ALPINA has managed to balance the acoustics via their new middle silencer configuration in a way that enhances the driving experience without being intrusive during everyday use.
What sets ALPINA apart from other performance tuners, or even the ///M-family from Garching, is their unwavering commitment to maintaining driveability and refinement. The power delivery in the B5 GT is smooth and linear, offering an abundance of torque from low within the rev range. The extra 50 Nm is noticeable for current B5 drivers, not if you haven’t been in one lately. The eight-speed automatic transmission, adapted and strengthened by ALPINA, seamlessly handles the increased power, providing fast shifts and adaptive behavior based on the driver’s preferences. If there would be a slight niggle to complain about, then it would be the auto-upshift at the red line.
Handling: Precision Engineering Meets Enhanced Driving Pleasure
While sheer low-end power is a defining characteristic of the ALPINA B5 GT, equally impressive is its ability to tame the twisty roads and offer a comfortable ride during daily commutes. ALPINA engineers fitted new bump stops that improve body control under heavy loads, dropped the ride height a notch, and adjusted the torque split to be more rear-biased. Interestingly, the spring and damper rates weren’t altered.
The GT also received a new dome-bulkhead-strut, which serves as a front-end reinforcement, improving steering precision and feedback, and a set of enhanced brake pads fitted to the ALPINA brake system, which consists of four-piston fixed brake calipers from Brembo with brake discs of 395×36 mm diameter on the front axle and floating brake calipers with brake discs of 398×28 mm diameter on the rear axle.
By combining all these minor changes, the engineers were able to tweak the geometry even further and provide a more inspiring drive behind the wheel. Especially with regards to the steering and the ability to turn in, the B5 GT has noticeably improved. It is more enjoyable to drive than the standard B5 and provides you as a driver with more feedback.
Upgrades: Attention to Detail and Exclusivity
Beyond the performance and handling improvements, the ALPINA B5 GT is adorned with various upgrades that set it apart. Starting with the exterior, the B5 GT boasts exclusive ALPINA aerodynamic elements such as the canards at the front that not only enhance the car’s appearance but also contribute to its aerodynamic efficiency. There is even a bonnet taken from the current-gen M5.
The 20-spoke ALPINA Classic wheels, finished in a signature classic design, add a touch of sophistication to the vehicle’s exterior profile. They are colored in Marron Volciano and feature discreet B5 GT lettering. The available exclusive paint colors further elevate the B5 GT’s aesthetics. In addition to the classic traditional standard colors ALPINA Blue and ALPINA Green, the B5 GT is available in the following six specially selected paint finishes: Arctic Race Blue, Petrol Mica, Verde British Racing, Chalk, Imola Red, or Daytona Violet.
Moving to the interior, the Buchloe team created a luxurious and comfortable environment for drivers and passengers alike. A surprisingly wide range of options is available for the client, allowing him or her to dress up the interior. The baseline is a Nappa leather upholstery available in a range of colors, with a further three different full leather Merino options available as an option. You can even choose different seat options, with the higher grade leather options not being available on the sport seats taken from the cabin of the M5. BMW only allowed ALPINA to dress them up in mediocre Dakota Leather with black Alcantara seat centers, while including blue color accents and ALPINA lettering and 5 GT written inside the headrests.
For those wanting ultimate customization inside the cabin, you can ask ALPINA‘s in-house saddlery to fulfill your dreams and create an individual full-leather interior made from LAVALINA leather. This is the same material you find standard on the steering wheel, which comes with Marron Volciano stitching – a stitch color which proved to be totally out of tune with all the other blue stitching inside the interior. The final touches are the ALPINA-themed digital dash, open-pore wood trim on the dashboard, B5 GT emblems on the floor mats, and bespoke aluminum shift paddles, painted in the same Marron Volciano.
One of the most notable ALPINA trademarks is, of course, the hand-finished production plaque on the center console. Each B5 GT bears its unique build number, emphasizing the limited production run and personal touch of the manufacturer.
BMW M5 CS: Quite Similar but Different
Comparisons with the BMW M5 CS are easily drawn, although out of the box, the difference in performance level isn’t huge. The GT offers 2 horsepower less than the ///M family member and 100 Nm more across the rev range, with those two horsepower obviously being orchestrated by the people from Garching not to make the GT look more powerful on paper than their CS.
The main difference between both cars is their character. Where the M5 is the angry revvy saloon, the ALPINA stays under the radar while offering you a touring or a saloon form factor. Its abilities are on tap when required and available via its low-down muscular style, but it is never telling you that you should use it. Instead, it makes you aware that it is available up on demand, and when you do use it, it delivers a punch that is offering 13% more torque than the CS at 3500 rpm.
Of course, the CS is way more capable on track and might make you feel more special in those carbon fiber bucket seats while also being surrounded by all that Alcantara. However, if there was ever a metaphor to explain the difference between both brilliant cars, then it is the steering wheel dressed in Lavalina leather inside the ALPINA and Alcantara inside the ///M car. This significant difference encompasses the character of each vehicle, while their outright performance isn’t so different.
Conclusion: Where Performance Meets Luxury
In conclusion, the ALPINA B5 GT is a remarkable testament to the art of automotive engineering and luxury craftsmanship. Rooted in the rich history of ALPINA, this car exemplifies the brand’s dedication to performance, elegance, and exclusivity, while saying goodbye to the 5 Series by ALPINA.
The slight performance tweaks, courtesy of ALPINA’s technical prowess, transform the already potent BMW 5 Series into a wonderful driving machine that offers even more driving finesse. ALPINA’s signature touches further add to the car’s exclusivity, reminding occupants that they are part of a select group of discerning individuals.
In the end, the GT represents the pinnacle of what a high-performance luxury grand tourer should be – a harmonious blend of power, elegance, and refinement. It is a vehicle that caters to the driver’s desires and emotions even more so than the B5 did, while ensuring every journey is surrounded by comfort, style, and the absence of ///M’s extravaganza.
The 250 lucky people who will be owning an ALPINA B5 GT should understand that their ownership is not merely about possessing this car, but more importantly, being part of a storied legacy and an exclusive community that appreciates the artistry of automotive engineering. For those fortunate enough to acquire this exceptional machine, you are not only celebrating ALPINA’s core brilliance and legacy but also saying farewell to the ALPINA B5 line of vehicles that have defined over more than 40 years what grand touring is all about – offering a nuanced, distinct appearance combined with the most powerful, high-performance drivetrain you could possibly want.