Craig Duff road tests and reviews the 2016 Alpina B4 Bi-Turbo Coupe with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.
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 extracting 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.
Alpina addresses the desire to have a quick car that is more inviting to spend time in than a factory model.
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 eight-speed 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 low-key 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.