Imagine James Bond had a long-lost brother. The two started out with the same genes, had many of the same habits — but instead of a devil-may-care ladies’ man and secret agent, Brother Bond got his kicks playing the stock market and taking his socialite wife to drink wine at dinner parties. That’s Alpina. It’s M Sport’s more civilized brother. But don’t let the day job fool you — beneath Alpina’s respectable business jacket hides a weapon to make 007 swoon.

Like Mr. Bond, the Alpina B5 Edition 50 started out with pretty good DNA, in the form of a 550i sedan chassis. At the BMW factory, they install an engine built by Alpina, and then ship the car back to them to install the finishing touches. The result is a car built equally by both manufacturers, but wears the Alpina badge. That badge lays atop a car wholly distinct from its sibling in terms of character — but don’t take that to mean there isn’t some deadly rivalry involved.

These are the Bond twins we’re talking about here.

Continue reading to learn more about the Alpina B5 Bi-Turbo "Edition 50".

  • 2015 Alpina B5 Bi-Turbo "Edition 50"
  • Year:
    2015
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    V8
  • Transmission:
    8-Speed Sport-Automatic
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    600 @ 6000
  • Torque @ RPM:
    590 @ 3500
  • Displacement:
    4.4 L
  • 0-60 time:
    4.2 sec.
  • Top Speed:
    203 mph
  • Price:
    100000
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • body style:

Exterior

2015 Alpina B5 Bi-Turbo "Edition 50" Exterior
- image 620380
Overall, with the subtle lower body kit and tight fitment in the wheel arches, the big Alpina wheels and brakes still look like they { {}might } have been a factory option.

One of the first things you’ll notice about the B5 is that despite having more power than an M5, it still looks like the post-facelift 550i it’s based on. Think of the Alpina as the M5 for people who don’t care much about handling or racy exteriors. That last, anyway, is actually one of the best things about the Alpina. BMW’s drawn a lot of criticism in recent years for adding loads of "M" badges and doo-dads to their cars. An M-Car is supposed to be an understated sleeper — that’s the whole point of the thing.

Alpina at least seems to get that. They could have easily gone with a custom, aftermarket or factor-M-Sport body kit, but wisely chose to play it low key with a subtle, square-jawed chin spoiler and side skirts. If you didn’t know any better, you might think you were just looking at an exceptionally handsome 550i. Well-played there, Alpina.

The wheels are lightweight, forged, 20-spoke units. They’re a sizable 20 inches, but maybe that’s fair for a car with massive 15-inch Brembo brakes and four-piston calipers. Overall, with the subtle lower body kit and tight fitment in the wheel arches, the big Alpina wheels and brakes still look like they {}might have been a factory option.

You can get the Alpina in any color you want, as long as it’s blue or green. About the only overt concessions to special-ness this car makes are the Alpina badges, and the Tron-style "Edition 50" sticker on the side. Frankly, not the most tasteful aspects of the car; but at least they’re color-keyed to the paint, so you likely wouldn’t notice them unless you were looking directly at them from the next lane. Could be worse. Overall, though, nice job on maintaining the {}original M Sport design aesthetic, plus a little bit of 20-inch bling.

Exterior Drivetrain

Length (mm) 4,913 (193.42 Inches)
Width (mm) 1,860 (73.22 Inches)
Height, unladen (mm) 1,469 (57.83 Inches)
Wheelbase (mm) 2,968 (116.85 Inches)
Track, front (mm) 1,599 (62.95 Inches)
Track, rear (mm) 1,585 (62.40 Inches)

Interior

2015 Alpina B5 Bi-Turbo "Edition 50" Interior
- image 620319
If the Alpina's interior were any more Old Money, it would have come with a fireplace mantle with an ancestral portrait above it.

Think of the B5’s interior as a 550i’s, but where every little detail and material is just a little bit better. On the whole, Alpina’s interior design principle seems to be "if we leather it, they will come."

The hard surfaces in the interior are either "ceramic finish," or painted high-gloss black, white or body-color green or blue. As smooth and shiny as the painted panels are, this interior is a narcissist’s dream come true — you couldn’t {}not check your reflection every 15 seconds. Then again, if you owned this car, you probably would want to see you in it on a regular basis. Fair enough.

However, the interior’s real standout features won’t even be visible while you’re checking your tooth-whitening job in the dashboard. The seats carry body-color-keyed inserts, quilted with contrasting thread. It’s hard to know how to feel about them — but for some reason, they do bring to mind lighting a pipe in the den and calling someone "old chap."

As a whole then, if the Alpina’s interior were any more Old Money, it would have come with a fireplace mantle with an ancestral portrait above it. You have to wonder how hard Alpina thought about installing a polished oak liquor cabinet.

Drivetrain

2015 Alpina B5 Bi-Turbo "Edition 50" Exterior
- image 620378
The 540-horse engine used an aggressive boost controller to keep the torque curve dead flat from 2,800 to 5,200 rpm.

It’s got 600 horsepower — which, as eagle-eyed readers will note, is 40 more than the M5 and it’s own twin-turbo V-8 engine. The Edition 50 also has 60 more than the formerly highest-trim B5, which came with 540 horsepower.

Contrary to what you might think, the B5’s engine isn’t the same as used in the M5, and more crucially, it isn’t just a 550i engine with the boost cranked up. Alpina’s engine uses larger turbochargers than either the standard 550i or the M5, which combined with intake upgrades and a titanium exhaust allow it to make 40 horsepower more than the M5 on {}less boost. Even more importantly, it makes a full 200 horsepower more than the 550i, while running very little more boost. Impressive.

Even more so when you consider the fact that Alpina engineers its engines for torque, not outright horsepower. Even the previous 540-horse version had more low-rpm torque than the M5, which had 20 more horsepower.

Examination of the standard B5 and Edition 50’s power curves shows where Alpina found that extra 60 horsepower — they were sandbagging. The 540-horse engine used an aggressive boost controller to keep the torque curve dead flat from 2,800 to 5,200 rpm. That made for a fantastically linear engine in the midrange, but limited horsepower.

For the Edition 50, Alpina seems to have unleashed the turbos’ potential with a much less-restrictive boost controller setting. The engine ends up a little peakier and a tad less understated, but makes loads more power from 2,800 to the engine’s 6,800 rpm redline.

Alpina’s claiming 4.2 seconds to 100 kph (about 4 seconds flat to 60 mph) and 205 mph on the top end. That’s near supercar territory in terms of straight-line performance. Handling-wise...well, it’s a 550i. That’s a good thing. But it’s a 550i with 20-inch wheels and no M5 suspension to match the power. The Alpina would probably be awful on a race track or around tight mountain switchbacks; but a better Autobahn cruiser would prove hard to come by.

Drivetrain Specifications

Cylinders V8 90°
Capacity (cc) 4395
Bore (mm) 89.0
Stroke (mm) 88.3
Compression ratio (:1) 10.0
Max output (hp @ rpm) 600 @ 6,000
Max torque (lb-ft@ rpm) 590 @ 3,500 - 4,500
Acceleration 0-100 km/h (s) 4.2
Top speed (km/h) 328 (203 MPH)

Prices

2015 Alpina B5 Bi-Turbo "Edition 50" High Resolution Exterior
- image 620321

Pricing for the B5 Edition 50 hasn’t been announced yet, but expect somewhere around $105,000, depending on the options and exchange rate. The last Alpina B7 actually cost a bit less than the top-of-the-line 7-Series on which it was based, but it didn’t have 600 horsepower. Expect the Edition 50 to come in about the same or a bit higher than an M5, depending on the options.

Competition

As of right now, the Alpina’s B5 Edition 50’s biggest competition is probably its M5 cousin. For some time, the B7 has been effectively filling in for the missing M7 luxo-bruiser. It’s been BMW’s de facto weapon against the Audi RS8 and Mercedes S-Class. And that was fine, because the B7 occupied a unique place in the BMW lineup.

Not so with the B5 Edition 50 Alpina. The B5 will be fighting for market share with its racier corporate cousin, and will probably (at least in theory) end up splitting sales of both. However, there are enough differences between the two cars in terms of purpose and character that the Alpina may end up finding a niche. The M5 is a corner-carving sport sedan that’s perfectly happy cruising on the Autobahn. The Alpina is a high-speed luxury cruiser, best driven like a base 5-Series on surface roads.

Conclusion

2015 Alpina B5 Bi-Turbo "Edition 50" High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 620318

The Alpina B5 Edition 50 is a car that can go very fast, or look good in an understated way while going very slow. It’s interior makes it a nice place to be if your life consists of 98 percent sitting in traffic, and 2 percent driving as fast as possible in long, straight lines so you can look good sitting in traffic again.

This Alpina is the M5’s stockbroker brother. No, it’s not out playing cards for nuclear weapons in Monte Carlo, or engaging in high-speed chases with men on motorcycles. It’s got a day job, a respectable reputation, and ambitions that exceed bedding the next provocatively named femme fatale. The B5 Alpina isn’t looking for danger.

But it’s always prepared.

Just in case.

  • Leave it
    • * Quilted seats. Body colored quilted seats. With contrasting thread.
    • * 20-inch wheels on a sedan, no matter how you justify them.
    • * 600 horsepower in a chassis designed for 400. Still a hundred horsepower short of the Dodge Charger Hellcat.
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