Jalonik's Raphael Orlove ponders the importance of Alpina as he visits the Frankfurt Motor Show, admiring the Buchloe company's stealth approach to tuning, by turning a series-production BMW into a discreet, high-power driver's car without the sturm und drang of BMW's own M cars.
He notes that while the Alpinas of yesteryear had the undeniable cachet of being able to pull up to somebody on the Autobahn looking like a student in a 318e, then drop the hammer and roar off to the horizon, Alpina's modern cars have drifted closer in looks to their M-car counterparts with sharp body kits, like that on the new B6 Bi-Turbo. Actually, this aero alteration has been Alpina's practice for years, as they sought ways to keep the B7 steady at 190 miles an hour.
Alpina claims that these front and rear spoilers can reduce lift up to 80% in the front and 10% in the rear, depending on speed. This is clearly just a front for Alpina courting ultra-rich oil magnates, but the basic Alpina formula remains: Take a BMW and give it a massive engine rich in torque and devoid of histrionics.
The three newest cars to get the Alpina treatment are BMW's 650i convertible and the 530d sedan and wagon. The B6 Bi-Turbo sees the 4.4 twin-turbo V8 reworked from 400 to 507 horsepower. In true Alpina fashion, torque rises from 450 to 516 pound-feet.
Though M-car purists might loathe the thought of a diesel coming from BMW's M Division, Alpina is relishing the task of providing high-output diesels with its new D5 series of cars. The 3.0 biturbo engine in these Alpina D5s puts out 345hp, over the standard BMW's 241. Alpina has not yet released torque figures for this diesel, but it's likely to give its ZF eifght-speed a good workout—somewhere in the 350-pound-foot range.—Paul Duchene