The BMW Alpina B5 Bi-Turbo saloon is a blend of luxury and uncompromising performance

(Nov 18): From plush leather interiors to an engine that puts out more than 600hp, the BMW Alpina B5 Bi-turbo is a car comfortable enough to be a daily drive, yet able to deliver performance when needed.

The B5 Bi-turbo is based on BMW’s 5 series cars. The partnership between Alpina and BMW stretches back to the early 1960s. From originally just tuning cars for racing as a side business to producing typewriters, Alpina now produces less than 2,000 cars a year, making each a limited luxury item.

From afar, the B5 looks just like any other ordinary BMW 5 Series. From the distinctive kidney grille to the BMW badge, however, there are Alpina touches on the bodywork that set the B5 apart from the other 5 series. For example, there is a three-dimensional Alpina word in the front splitter, and the distinctive Alpina lines run along the side of the car. There are also the specially designed rims with the Alpina logo.

The interior boasts the same spacious cabin of the 5 series, but with the bespoke craftsmanship of Alpina. The options to outfit the B5 range from high-end Nappa leather on the seats to even Lavalina leather, the same leather Rolls-Royce uses in its interior. Lavalina leather is a standard feature on all Alpina steering wheels.

The interior trim also has touches of Alpina bespokeness, with raw walnut trim, one of the options, adorning the cabin. Such small details are a reminder of the customised nature of each car, which has been handcrafted to suit the customers’ requirements.

The B5 also has all the bells and whistles from BMW, including the smart assistant, hand gestures and a full digital dashboard. There are still Alpina touches, with the distinctive green and red lighting up the dials on the dash in Sport mode.

The interior boasts the same spacious cabin of the 5 series, but with the bespoke craftsmanship of Alpina

This touch also applies to the B5’s engine, with Alpina tuning it to deliver 608hp and 800Nm of torque, delivering more horsepower and torque than BMW’s M-series.

You will certainly feel it as you put your foot down on the throttle. The engine roars as the car leaps forward. Yet, the steering feels light and easy to drive, underlining Alpina’s care to ensure its cars are not just for performance. This translates to the B5’s suspension as well, with Comfort mode offering a gentle ride, where bumps are barely noticeable.

Although the car is 4.9m long, steering it at low speeds feels effortless and, coupled with rear-wheel steering, the B5 can get itself around corners without having to execute the dreaded multiple-point turns. Driving on city streets in Comfort mode and navigating winding roads is a joy in the B5, with the steering responsive and light, letting you drive comfortably with one hand if you feel like it.

On the highways, though, the B5 shows you what it can really do. While cruising along in Comfort mode is easy enough, switching to Sport mode firms up the suspension and lets you feel the engine roar. It also makes the gear changes more dynamic, with the transmission skipping several gears, depending on the engine loads and rpm to pick the most favourable gear.

Unlike BMW’s M-sport series, all Alpina models are not electronically speed-limited, with the speed on the B5’s dash going to 330kph. While that is a speed you are unlikely to hit in Singapore, this action of not limiting the speed underscores Alpina’s quest for performance, while nestling the driver and passengers in luxurious comfort.

Few other car manufacturers have mastered the blend of luxury and performance at the Alpina’s level, and the new B5 is testament of that. Effortlessly changing between a daily drive and high-performance monster, this car is perfect for the executive who wants a little more oomph in his or her ride.


BMW Alpina B5 Bi-Turbo

$535,800 including COE and first-year road tax

Engine: 4,395cc V8 engine twin turbo

Power/torque: 608hp/800Nm

Fuel consumption: 11.1L/100km

0 to 100kph: 3.5 seconds

Top speed: 330kph