You guys probably know that I had my local sytner's principal's personal vehicle as courtesy car
while my car was in for gearbox inspection and some of you asked how the alpina drove,
so I decided make a review on the Alpina with some photos I've taken.
This is my first in depth review (?) so please be easy on me
The Alpina D5 (F10)
Okay, so I had this Alpina D5 for 3 days, which is rather short period of time to understand and learn a new motor but having covered 60 miles a day on motorway, A-roads and also city centre, I think I had just enough time to fall in love with this car.
Alpina is a Germany tuning company who specialise in modifying BMW and has been doing this for nearly 50 years. They modify both diesel and petrol models of BMW and the one I've driven was the diesel 3.0L Bi-turbo 5 series. Performance figures are healthy at 350bhp with 516lb ft of torque and it will hit 62mph in 5.1seconds.
Now, I drive myself over 500 horsepower car as daily but despite that this car feels very quick and responsive thanks to the wide torque band and quick shifting 8-speed gearbox. I was expecting more of lazy heavy saloon than sporty diesel. However, it wasn't on one extreme side, it was on both. I'll tell you what I mean.
The car comes with Comfort +, Comfort, Sport, Sport + ride unlike normal 5 series or even M5, which only has comfort, normal or sport. And, they do work. This was one of the options on Alpina that made me feel special and got me thinking perhaps it's worth paying the extra for.
The wheels are specially made with air valves inside the wheel cap which can only be opened by key and this uniqueness of Alpina continues onto the interior.
Alpina's custom dash trim, Alpina embossed leather seats, Alpina guages, Alpina limited edition plate, Alpina emblem key and so on..
At this point, you might be thinking maybe it's a bit special but does it drive better than the normal 5 series?
I can tell you with confidence, YES. It's certainly quicker in comparison to it's base model 535d and feels a lot stronger on both sides of comfort and sport. I think the bit of performance jump was just on the point where you feel 'not lacking power' to 'fast'. The power delivery is so easy and smooth. Plus, it will easily do 30mpg, or over 40mph on motorway. I just cannot get used to this mpg figures with the performance level. On my daily I'd use 2/5 of my tank on return journey to work, Alpina D5 with full tank used barely 1/10. I personally think this is what a comfortable saloon should do, especially for petrolheads who seek for descent performance with fraction of the cost (in comparison to petrol cars). The premium over the standard 535d isn't much considering how much more you get from this D5. Same story on all the other model lines (eg, 750Li based B7 is quicker than 760Li and it functions just as good as 760Li but cheaper).
However, these mpg figures are achieved by help of Auto Start-Stop function that shuts off the engine when stopped. I know this tech's been around for a while, perhaps I just didn't get used to it but it just doesn't feel right. It shakes a lot when turning off/on, if you use it together with Auto hold, it judders from deadstop. I'd still use it for the sake of mpg but it almost made me feel like it's not integrated that well to be considered as proper technology. (feels almost like prototype)
Nevertheless, I loved the car. I love the way it rides, accelerates, brakes, handles and how it manages that magical mpg. In addition to that, this particular D5 doesn't look bad, especially from the rear. quad-exhausts makes it look very aggressive and sporty, and when you realise that a lot of effort has actually gone into making these body kits (eg; the ugly front splitter actually reduces 75% of lift), you'll start to realise that you're in something special.
It'd be silly to compare this to the new F10 M5, but I have to say I'd have this D5 rather than the M5. When I drove the M5, it was fast, nimble and sporty but it just felt heavy and not exciting. I quoted "A fat ballet dancer at its best". D5 was never meant to be one of the fastest saloon in the world but that's alright because it just does so well on what it's supposed to do.
Thanks for reading, there will be a short video clip following soon.
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More reviews coming up on 'Maserati Granturismo', 'Ferrari 458', 'Lamborghini LP560-4' soon.