Alpina aims high with new B3 saloon
Alpina has revealed its new B3 in saloon form — following on from the recent introduction of the estate “Touring” model.
Based on the BMW 3 Series, it’s mechanically identical to its estate stablemate. This means it’s powered by the same 3.0-litre straightsix turbocharged petrol engine, with power sent to all four wheels via an eightspeed automatic gearbox.
Though it does lose a little practicality in its saloon form, a reduction in weight means a slight boost in performance — with 0-60mph now covered in 3.6 rather than 3.7 seconds, and top speed up to 188mph from 186mph. It’s also likely to be a little more agile in the corners, too.
Exterior enhancements to the car include revised bumpers, the addition of a quad-exit exhaust system, and Alpina branding on the front grille.
A set of 19-in alloy wheels is fitted as standard, which can be optionally upgraded to 20-in units.
Inside the car, very little changes from the regular 3 Series — though a retrimmed steering wheel now features an Alpina logo and the firm’s own button shifters in place of paddles for manual control of gear changes.
Founded in 1965, Alpina works closely with BMW when developing its vehicles. Though a large part of vehicle production takes part in the latter’s facilities, the former then takes the half-finished cars to add its own touches.
But the firm is more than just a tuner, with the German Ministry of Transport recognising Alpina as a separate maker. It sells fewer than 100 cars annually in the UK.
Order books for the Alpina B3 saloon will open in the first quarter of 2020, with deliveries beginning in the middle of the year.
The X-Trail is a big deal for Nissan, the brand’s best-selling model worldwide.
Here, we’re looking at an updated version of the thirdgeneration model, which continues to offer space for seven, smart technology under the skin and an updated range of powertrains.
Under the bonnet, the core engine is now a perky but frugal 1.7-litre dCi 150 diesel, available with either 2WD or 4WD and a 6-speed manual gearbox.
This unit delivers plenty of pulling power and is decently refined, so should be at home on or off the beaten track. Buyers can also opt for a 1.3-litre DIG-T petrol powerplant.
Design-wise, this Nissan has always been noted for its sculpted and muscular styling, with chiselled lines, high wheel arches and rather elegant curves on the bonnet.
All of those characteristics remain, but since the 2017 restyle have been complemented by a more distinctive front end that showcases the brand’s V-motion grille, flanked by sleek headlamps.
As usual on an X-Trail, there’s the option of third row seating if you want it: most X-Trail customers do.
The luggage bay can be portioned into upper and lower areas in a simple singlehanded move.
This split-cargo solution enables the user to store large items below while creating a fully usable upper load surface for smaller, lighter items.
Overall, this revised thirdgeneration X-Trail offers much more than its predecessors ever could.
For more than two decades, Toyota’s Avensis provided customers in the medium range Mondeo segment with a safe, conservative set of wheels.
This post-2014 facelifted MK3 version was the last to be produced before this model ceased selling in this country.
Let’s check it out as a used buy.
Toyota didn’t want to offer its hybrid technology in this car, but it did provide buyers with a downsized diesel, a 1.6-litre D-4D unit co-developed with BMW.
If funds permit, go for a 2.0-litre D-4D diesel, a car capable of 62mph in 9.5s en route to 124mph, along with potential efficiency that sees this derivative manage 62.8mpg on the combined cycle and 119g/ km of CO2.
At the wheel it feels plush and spacious. Move to the rear seat and you’ll find that accommodation is respectable by the standards of the Mondeo class.
Out back, boot remains the same size as before, 509-litres of capacity in the saloon variant.
Toyota knows that the medium range market is closely fought and highly populated, with buying decisions often coming down to the smallest detail.
This much improved thirdgeneration model got more of these kinds of details right – the quality cabin, the extra refinement, the slicker multi-media system.
Which makes it a lot harder to ignore when you know that it comes at a price that’s going to represent good value on the used market.