Unless you’re a proper car fan, Alpina isn’t a name you would have often heard – but for BMW fans its vehicles can be an excellent alternative.
What Alpina do is take a standard BMW M car, strip it out and give it its own understated but still excellent-looking makeover, as well as fettle under the bonnet and with the cars underpinnings.
Coming in mostly the same body but with plenty of luxurious extras, the B4 S is a twin-turbocharged version of the BMW M4 while also coming with a nicer leather interior, an understated bodykit and a less subtle Akrapovic exhaust system.
So it has the gear, but does it give you the same feeling as the M4? We take a look at whether the B4 S can stack up to its rivals.
Using the same 3.0-litre straight-six engine found in the M4, Alpina has given the B4 S an extra turbocharger to the one already fitted – making a twin-turbocharged setup. That adds up to 434bhp and 600Nm of torque – 20bhp more than the previous B4 model. The rear-wheel drive system is paired with an eight-speed ZF gearbox, which offers a very smooth delivery of power.
With the power and torque on offer but very smooth setup, you can go from being a comfortable cruiser to getting up to speed very quickly. The sprint to 60mph is finished in 3.9 seconds and the B4 S has a top speed of 190mph – faster than all but the M4 DTM.
Ride & Handling
The problem with performance saloons is that they are usually too firm to be comfortable or not powerful enough to be invigorating. But Alpina has done an excellent job of balancing the two and the B4 S is another example. Even with the 20-inch alloys fitted to our test car, it still managed to absorb the bumps in the road well and it feels perfectly comfortable pretty much everywhere.
Sometimes, the M4 can feel too sharp and too instant, so with Alpina toning it down slightly it is more progressive and relaxing to take a hold of – meaning it’s much tamer when cruising. The B4 S is overall a much easier prospect as the steering is well-weighted – in some cases a touch heavy – but feel isn’t always there. However, if you were taking this on a long drive that included patches of straight and twisty tarmac, the B4 S would be a worthy companion.
Interior & Equipment
As mentioned, Alpina takes the BMW and makes it better – and you will see the main bulk of that development in the cabin. The version we tested came with a brown merino leather interior – a £1,215 extra – and a leather-trimmed dashboard, showing a very premium finish is very easy to attain.
The B4 S is able to seat four, but the two rear passengers may not want to stay there for long as the legroom is just about bearable, while the roofline is quite low-slung meaning taller occupants won’t want to stay in the back seats for long.
Equipment includes most of the top BMW features, like the Professional Media system with satellite navigation, heated sports seats and a leather sports steering wheel – which can come with an interesting stitching colour combination.
Extra trim can come in the shape of piano black lacquer or wood trim, with leather also available to be selected. BMW Individual options can also be selected due to the two companies working closely together on the vehicles.
The standard B4 S coupe starts at £63,000, but with the emerald green paint and accessories selected the one we tested came to £70,045. That cost may push people away, but considering the quality of the finish and drive, it is quite reasonable – especially when you factor in the performance.
Running costs are surprisingly good, with emissions quoted at 180g/km CO2 and fuel economy of 35.8mpg – impressive for a car that goes 190mph and has two turbochargers. Although you will have to factor in the road tax premium for a car over £40,000 and a petrol engine that can be quite thirsty, it isn’t too bad considering what you get.
The looks may split opinions and the detailing stickers may be a bit tacky, but with the interior comfort of a high level and performance to match, it is very difficult to ignore the Alpina B4 S. With good equipment, a comfortable ride and a more mature feel than its M4 cousin, the B4 S more than takes care of its rivals – with BMW fans surely at the front of the queue.