Feel good and go fast

Herald Sun - Motoring - - PRESTIGE - CRAIG DUFF craig.duff@news.com.au

FOR some, se­rial pro­duc­tion just isn’t good enough. Prospec­tive BMW own­ers can now as­pire to the next step up in the form of Alpina-en­hanced 4 Series vari­ants.

The Alpina name has an en­vi­able rep­u­ta­tion in Europe for en­dow­ing reg­u­lar BMWs with be­spoke in­te­ri­ors and ex­trac­tine more per­for­mance from the donor en­gine.

In the case of the Alpina B4, a two-year de­vel­op­ment pro­gram has turned the reg­u­lar 435i (yes, the lat­est model is now a 440i, which shows how ex­ten­sive and time-con­sum­ing the Alpina up­grades were) into a 301kW/600Nm twin-turbo weapon.

Those fig­ures are a mas­sive lift on the 240kW/450Nm found in the stan­dard BMW but they come with a $60,000 hit over the base car.

Per­for­mance is ex­pected in an Alpina-badged BMW but it isn’t the pri­or­ity. Lux­ury is, which is why the $60K pre­mium in­cludes merino leather trim, re­vised in­stru­men­ta­tion, thick car­pet mats, and cus­tom aero­dy­namic and sus­pen­sion up­dates.

The op­tions list is ex­haus­tive — there are two fur­ther leather up­grades, each worth about $10,000.

Ev­ery car im­ported will be built in Ger­many to cus­tomer spec­i­fi­ca­tions.

Alpina’s re­la­tion­ship with BMW is so tight that many parts are fit­ted to the cars on the pro­duc­tion line, mean­ing there’s no ef­fect on the war­ranty and Alpina ve­hi­cles can be ser­viced at any BMW deal­er­ship.

The go-fast, feel-good ethos puts the Alpina range be­tween BMW’s own M sports cars and the mak­ers’s In­di­vid­ual cus­tomi­sa­tion pro­gram, re­cently en­hanced with the ar­rival of BMW M Per­for­mance com­po­nents.

The coupe is the first Alpina to be ho­molo­gated for Aus­tralia but will be fol­lowed by sedan, wagon and con­vert­ible ver­sions. The cars are be­ing sold in BMW deal­er­ships in the main­land state cap­i­tals un­der the “In Mo­tion” um­brella, headed by Don­caster BMW dealer-prin­ci­pal Ingo Reisch.

Reisch is a car guy who be­came a car yard owner but still takes the time to ap­pre­ci­ate the joy of driv­ing. He says Alpina ad­dresses the de­sire to have a quick car that is more invit­ing to spend time in than a fac­tory model.

“At this level peo­ple want unique ex­pe­ri­ences, not just a car,” Reisch says.

“Alpina gives them that. The cus­tomers who will look at this car want M lev­els of per­for­mance but they don’t want the sports car sus­pen­sion or the at­ten­tion … they want to feel and breathe the leather and touch the qual­ity ev­ery time they get in the car.”

ON THE ROAD

An Akrapovic ex­haust en­sures the neigh­bours won’t mis­take the Alpina for a reg­u­lar BMW — as­sum­ing you choose to drive it that way. Feed the twin tur­bos and the metal­lic crack ac­com­pa­ny­ing the gearchanges is not rem­i­nis­cent of any Beemer.

That’s the com­bi­na­tion of the new pipes and heav­ily re­vised soft­ware in the eight­speed au­to­matic. Ease up on the throt­tle and it bur­bles with a re­luc­tant re­straint that will be more fit­ting in the tree-lined boule­vards that it will mostly fre­quent.

And that’s the beauty of the B4 — it in­stantly re­flects the char­ac­ter you choose to dis­play. A set of 20-inch rims and lowkey badg­ing are ob­vi­ous dif­fer­ences but the Alpina drives as well as you’d ex­pect a $160,000 per­for­mance car to. Think of it as a tarted-up M4, with a lit­tle less me­chan­i­cal grip and a more im­pres­sive in­te­rior.

And that, fun­da­men­tally, is the Alpina re­mit. This is a grand tourer with grand pre­ten­sions and for those pre­pared to in­dulge their he­do­nis­tic streak, it is a heck of car.

I’d be hard-pressed go­ing past the M … but I sus­pect I might be just as hard-pressed pass­ing a well-driven B4.

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