Quick and quirky

The Alpina B3 Biturbo Touring has soft, supportive seats and motorised, memory and easy-access functions found in a luxe barge.
The Alpina B3 Biturbo Touring.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG
The Alpina B3 Biturbo Touring has soft, supportive seats and motorised, memory and easy-access functions found in a luxe barge.
The Alpina B3 Biturbo Touring has soft, supportive seats and motorised, memory and easy-access functions found in a luxe barge.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

The Alpina B3 Biturbo Touring offers room, vroom and a queer stop-start function

The Alpina B3 Biturbo Touring is like the Alpina B3 Biturbo Saloon we reviewed in 2013 - just with a lot more utility and comfort.

In essence, the car is a BMW 3series that has undergone extensive tuning by Alpina, a Bavarian manufacturer with close ties to BMW.

It uses a 2,979cc six-cylinder turbo engine last seen in the 335i, but cranked up to produce 410bhp and 600Nm.

The emphasis is on smooth, slow-burn delivery, rather than the knock-out recipe found in the BMW M3. Hence, it gets an eight-speed autobox instead of the M3's snappy seven-speed dual- clutch.

While 600Nm is a lot of pulling power, it arrives at 3,000rpm - rather high for a turbo engine. Again, this is for that gradual linearity one associates with languid bigdisplacement limos rather than pugilistic racers with only the chequered flag in mind.

The B3 Touring is still a brisk sprinter, clocking a 4.4-second century sprint and a top speed in excess of 300kmh. These credentials translate to adequate promptness in city traffic and decent reserves on the highway.

  • SPECS / BMW ALPINA B3 BITURBO TOURING

    Price: $375,800 with COE

    Engine: 2,979cc 24-valve inline-6 turbocharged

    Transmission: Eight-speed automatic with shift buttons

    Power: 410bhp at 5,500rpm

    Torque: 600Nm at 3,000rpm

    0-100kmh: 4.4 seconds

    Top speed: 300kmh

    Fuel consumption: 7.6 litres/ 100km

    Agent: Munich Automobiles

Alpina's emphasis on smoothness and comfort extends to its suspension set-up. Its ride quality remains cushy even when it is driven hard. In fact, it proves to be too soft at times, like when you go over humps.

Otherwise, the pliant quality suits those who prefer comfortable commutes.

BMW's fuel-conserving stop- start system is not known for refinement. It usually restarts with an unceremonious shudder. But the Alpina B3's system is a lot more seamless and subtle.

Which is great - if it were not so glitchy. The test-car failed to restart on at least half a dozen occasions over three days. On busy roads such as ours, these incidents can be embarrassing, and they were.

The good thing is that the B3 is equipped for quick getaways.

The steroidal car has the trimmings of a bespoke carriage, at least in the cockpit. You will find soft and supportive seats, with all the motorised, memory and easy-access functions found in a luxe barge. But the second row looks rather pedestrian.

The boot is what you would expect on a 3-series - more room than its sedan sibling, but not exactly vast. Still, it will more than suffice for grocery runs, soccer practice and a moderate loot from Ikea.

The Alpina station wagon fits folks who look for these applications in a car, but who also enjoy swift and silky progress.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 06, 2016, with the headline 'Quick and quirky'. Print Edition | Subscribe