Regional ALPINA special editions are few and far between, making it a special occasion to see one up close and personal. Introduced a few weeks ago, the B3 50 Years of BMW South Africa Edition celebrates half a century since BMW Group South Africa set up shop in the country. This sports sedan is one of only five built exclusively for the local market.

All of them have been painted in ALPINA Green II metallic and sit on the timeless multi-spoke forged wheels — the iconic Classic set that has been around for as long as we can remember. Another throwback to days gone by is the presence of subtle decals on the sides of the body and on the lower corners of the front bumper. Despite not being an M3, it still boasts a quad exhaust system and a large trunk lid spoiler, with the blue brake calipers providing a nice contrast to the body.

One can think of the retro-flavored B3 as a modern-day interpretation of the BMW 333i (E30), one of the most famous special editions of the 3 Series sold in South Africa. The 2024 equivalent has all-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic transmission hooked up to a twin-turbo 3.0-liter inline-six engine. Interestingly, it shares the same “S58” unit used by the M3, tuned here to deliver 488 hp.

While it may have less horsepower than an M3 Competition, let alone an M3 CS, it boasts far more torque at 730 Nm (538 lb-ft), compared to the “only” 650 Nm (478 lb-ft) in those M3 models. It does 0 to 62 mph (100 km/h) in 3.6 seconds and continues to accelerate until it reaches 190 mph (305 km/h). In some markets, the ALPINA B3 is also available as a more practical Touring to serve as a classier alternative to the M3 wagon by doing away with the striking kidney grille.

Time will tell what will happen to the B3 and D3 S after 2025 when BMW will start making some changes as ALPINA’s owner. In 2022, BMW’s Vice President, Head of Series Luxury Class, Christian Tschurtschenthaler, vaguely hinted these lesser ALPINA models might be on their way out:

“Does it make sense that someone spends that €250,000 or €300,000 money on an ALPINA then sees a B3 come alongside at a traffic light?”

[Photos: / BMW South Africa]