The Alpina B3 Saloon is here to take your money before the new M3 does

Where do you go when you want a car that looks like a BMW and still is a BMW deep inside, but sports subtle design tweaks, boosted powerplants, and new badges without looking over the top and rather elegant instead? Well, if you’re thinking Alpina, then you’re absolutely right. The firm calls itself a manufacturer because it does not offer aftermarket kits, tuning chips, of mods, but instead, it delivers BMW-based models that have been tweaked from the ground up. Alpina’s latest product, the B3 saloon, just took the stage in Tokyo, so why don’t we get to learn what’s it all about?

Exterior

  • Blue brake calipers
  • Subtle aero package
  • Alpina Blue and Alpina Green metallic paint jobs
  • Discreet trunk lid lip spoiler
  • Signature Alpina spoked wheels
  • Twin double exhausts
  • Alpina-specific logos and badges
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Obviously, the Alpina B3 sedan is based on the new BMW 3 Series. And since the model is called the B3 and not the D3, we know for sure that the sedan hides a gasoline engine under the hood instead of a diesel unit. But we’ll get to that later. For now, let’s have a quick look at what changed for the Alpina B3 in terms of aesthetics.

Now, Alpina is known for subtly tweaking every BMW model it gets its hand on, adding extra elegance and appeal without overdoing things.

The same can be said about the Alpina B3 here, which falls under the brand’s “form follows function” creed.

Looking at the B3 head-on, it’s easy to spot some of the changes that went in there. Obviously, the front spoiler lip features the free-floating “ALPINA” logo, while the side air intakes have been optimized to increase cooling performance and improve the sedan’s aero credentials for as little uplift as possible and extra stability at higher speeds.

2020 Alpina B3 Saloon Exterior
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On the paint front, customers get to choose between the Alpina Blue metallic and Alpina Green metallic finishes, as well as a “wide variety” of BMW and BMW Individual paint jobs that can be specified at any time.

The B3 saloon is fitted as standard with the new 19-inch Alpina Dynamic wheels that feature a 5x4 multi-spoke design or, on request, customers can have the larger, 20-inch Alpina Classic wheels with 20 spokes and lockable wheel hub covers.

The wheels are shod in specifically-developed Pirelli P Zero ALP tires said to rely on ultra-high performance compounds for the best-available grip levels. The finishing touches are added by the blue Alpina brake calipers that create an almost royal-like aura around the whole car.

2020 Alpina B3 Saloon Exterior
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The side profile doesn’t show any changes, while the rear end gets a new subtle diffuser flanked by the double-pipe arrangement of the Alpina sport exhaust setup on each side, a lip spoiler on the trunk lid and the compulsory “ALPINA” and “B3” logos. Oh, and if a performance sedan is not your piece of pie or you’re just looking for more space to serve your big family, then fret not, as Alpina will gladly sell you the B3 in wagon guise.

The B3 saloon is 4,719 millimeters long, 2,068 millimeters wide, and 1,440 millimeters tall. Wheelbase stretches to 2,851 millimeters.

Some of these coordinates are different for the Alpina B3 Touring, of course. The wagon is said to share the same length, width, and wheelbase with the B3 Saloon, according to Alpina, but is a tad more petite thanks to a height of 1,438 millimeters.

Interior

  • Endless customization options
  • Unique production number plaque
  • Lavalina leather upholstery
  • Digital instrument cluster with embedded Alpina logo and blueish accents
  • Sports steering wheel wrapped in Lavalina leather
  • More Alpina badges and crests, including the logo on the steering wheel
2020 Alpina B3 Saloon Interior
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As it’s customary with every Alpina product, the B3’s cabin gets its fair share of posh materials and subtle tweaks that go hand in hand with the sleeker exterior. Customers can have the Lavalina leather upholstery and enjoy its comfort and climatic properties, but as usual, Alpina can customize a lot of elements inside the cockpit to suit the future owner’s taste and desire. Thanks to its dedicated workshop, the manufacturer can personalize the likes of seat piping, stitching, embroidery, and embossing.

What’s more, every B3 comes with a production plaque positioned right under the iDrive rotary selector, showing the model-specific build number for that car in particular.

Moving on, there are plenty of Alpina logos scattered around the cabin (including on the floor mats, door sills, and seat backrests). The sports steering wheel is also heated and has been hand-stitched. It is now wrapped in the same Lavalina leather we mentioned earlier and features the Alpina logo in the middle, instead of BMW’s crest.

2020 Alpina B3 Saloon Interior
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The display that serves the instrument cluster has also been tweaked, and it now sports the Alpina logo - digitally-rendered, that is - on top of the screen and more blueish accents.

As most of you know already, the whole multimedia setup comes from BMW and packs the likes of Parking Assistant and Active Guard Plus as standard.

Those looking to get more from the setup can, of course, request the Driving Assistant Professional package that ups the ante with an extensive list of safety features and electronic nannies. Otherwise, you’re looking at your typical BMW 3 Series cabin both in terms of design and space.

Drivetrain

  • Retuned 3.0-liter inline-six mill
  • 456 hp
  • 516 lb-ft of torque
  • More power and torque than the last BMW M3
  • Tweaked 8-speed gearbox
  • 0-62 mph sprint of 3.8 seconds
  • Top speed of 188 mph
  • Revamped launch control and chassis
  • Drilled brake discs
2020 Alpina B3 Saloon Exterior
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This is where it really gets spicy for the Alpina B3 saloon. The B3 uses BMW’s 3.0-liter straight-six gasoline engine with what Alpina calls re-engineered “bi-turbocharging” and optimized cooling.

The powerplant makes 456 horsepower (340 kilowatts) between 5,000 rpm and 7,000 rpm and 700 Newton-meters (516 pound-feet) of twist fully unlocked from 3,000 rpm and available at up to 4,250 rpm.

Handling these resources is an eight-speed automatic gearbox from ZF (8HP76) fitted with Alpina’s Switch-Tronic tech which helps the B3 saloon blast from 0 to 100 kilometers per hour (62 miles per hour) in 3.8 seconds and on to a top speed of 303 kilometers per hour (that’s 188 miles per hour). That’s not bad at all for a sedan that tips the scales at 1,785 kilograms (3,935 pounds).

Inside the stock BMW 3 Series M340i xDrive, the 3.0-liter inline-six powerplant makes 382 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque, allowing the sedan to sprint from naught to 60 miles per hour (96 kilometers per hour) in 4.1 seconds and a top speed of 155 miles per hour (250 kilometers per hour). Interestingly enough, the tweaked powerplant offers more oomph than the last BMW M3 (rated at 425 horses and 406 pound-feet of torque), but we’re curious to see how it fares against the upcoming M3 that’s based on the new 3 Series.

2020 Alpina B3 Saloon Exterior
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Mind you, though, that the B3 can only be had with an all-wheel-drive setup (that’s the xDrive we all know and love from stock BMWs) that sends the power to the asphalt, so those in search for a RWD power-sedan will have to look elsewhere.

But perhaps there’s a feature that will change your mind: Alpina tweaked the B3’s launch control setup specifically for the sprint from 0 to 200 kilometers per hour (miles per hour), which now happens in just 13.4 seconds (124 miles per hour).

2020 Alpina B3 Saloon Exterior
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Chassis-wise, Alpina brought it a sports suspension setup that combines sport springs with stiff anti-roll bars. The suspension also features a redesigned Variable Damper Control unit, which offers three pre-set modes: Comfort+, Comfort, and Sport. The same goes for the variable sports steering, which allows drivers to select the same modes (Comfort+, Comfort, and Sport), a first for Alpina. What’s more, the blue calipers we mentioned earlier are of the four-piston ilk in the front and bite into 395-millimeter drilled discs. In the back, Alpina went for floating brake calipers with 345-millimeter drilled discs. Last but not least, an electronically-controlled limited-slip rear differential makes sure the sedan remains as planted as possible on the road.

Pricing

2020 Alpina B3 Saloon Interior
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The Alpina B3 is likely to be a European affair (together with the estate), so U.S.-based customers shouldn’t get their hopes up. Order books for the sedan are expected to open next year, and so far, there’s no official word on how much will the B3 saloon cost. Expect, however, a base price tag of north of $80,000 (€72,000) - and that’s before you had the chance to add some personal style to the sedan.

Final Thoughts

2020 Alpina B3 Saloon Exterior
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Is the new Alpina B3 exclusive? You bet. Is it expensive and rare? Of course. But it also packs a different sort of elegance, one that you don’t get from regular BMWs - perhaps those that got the BMW Individual treatment can near it more or less. Looks and refinement aside, the new Alpina B3 is more powerful than the current M3, but it’s also a lot more oriented on drama-free driving. Compared to the M3, you could say it’s a seasoned gentleman as opposed to a teenage rebel. But since there’s no sight of the BMW M3 just yet, going for Alpina’s B3 makes all the sense in the world. That way, you’ll stand out from the crowd, turn some heads, and still have a hefty arsenal at your disposal whenever you get an itchy right foot. Not to mention the practicality of a mid-size sedan. That’s a win-win-win situation from where we’re sitting.

  • Leave it
    • Will cost an arm and a leg
    • Won’t come to the U.S.

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