A full schedule of activities for myself and the kids today, with a trip to a museum in the city in the morning, followed by lunch and then a visit to an indoor trampoline park in the afternoon.
With a keen focus on under-the-skin performance enhancement, Alpinas are not noted for their brash exterior styling. And the B5 is no exception, with subtle, but distinctive, styling touches inside and out.
Stand-out exterior features include the classic 20-spoke alloy wheels and a large front spoiler decorated with embossed Alpina lettering. Other distinctive cues include the quad exhaust tips and the boot-lid spoiler that completes the rear of the car.
What you won't find are any large air intakes in the bonnet or superfluous aero decoration, and there is good reason. It's what lies beneath that counts.
Moving inside the cabin we discover a dash layout that is unmistakably BMW, but with a number of classy Alpina design additions. Similar to the exterior, most traces of BMW have been replaced, with an Alpina-badged steering wheel, new virtual instrument cluster in vibrant blue, embossed headrests and illuminated door sills.
The centre console includes a little brushed-metal numbered plaque with the number 46 engraved in the centre that gives an extra hint of exclusivity.
Alpina has done an exceptional job of reupholstering the seats in a mixture of soft quilted leather that provides an extra layer of comfort and a premium feel. The front seats in particular are an incredibly nice place to spend time, even making traffic jams a far more bearable experience.
It’s a similar situation in the back seat, with the kids treated to limousine-like luxury and a host of creature comforts, including climate controls in the rear of the centre console, auto sunblinds ($1059 option) and two cupholders in the pull-down centre armrest.
I can barely believe the compliance on offer around the bumpy suburban backs streets that surround my house. At lower speeds, its ride is limo-like, comfortably absorbing all the speed humps and potholes we encountered. It is one of the more remarkable achievements of this car, particularly when you consider it sits on 20-inch alloy wheels and will clip 100km/h in well under four seconds.
Inside the cabin there is an air of quiet and calm, the B5 navigating the local suburban blacktop with little flash or flamboyance, even under considerable acceleration.
The test car I drove came with $13k (approx.) of options, including a limited-slip differential, steering-wheel heating, a soft-close function for doors, sunblinds, on-board TV, the ambient air package and front-seat ventilation.