Making a better M5

BMW just released the new, seventh-generation 5 Series, a.k.a. the G30, and with its arrival comes the expectation of a new Alpina B5. Essentially a BMW-approved tuner-special variant of the stock Bavarian mid-size luxury sedan, the new B5 is a viable alternative to the inevitable M-badged 5 Series, offering sleek, subtle styling enhancements, a classy, uber-comfortable cabin packed with technology, and a heady dose of turbocharged adrenaline under the hood.

It’s an intoxicating combination if you want more excitement from the 5 Series, but don’t want to go with the standard issue M5, or a hodgepodge of parts thrown together by any old speed shop. Alpina stands apart as a badge laden with OEM quality and high-end performance, and for the past 50 years or so, the company has been putting together race cars and street cars that take BMW’s best to new heights. 

Unfortunately, it’s rare to find Alpina’s offerings here in the states, which makes the recently spied B5 test mule pictured here a forbidden fruit. Regardless, spotting the new B5 in its native habitat incites a little speculation on our part. Read on for our predictions as to what it’ll offer.

Continue reading to learn more about the Alpina B5.

Spy Shots

October 19, 2016 - First testing session

Exterior

One glance at the test mule reveals that this is indeed the new Alpina B5 we’re looking at, even underneath the swirly camo and confusing body mods.

Basically, the B5 doesn’t look a whole lot different from the 5 Series, but it’s still got enough subtle modifications to make it stand out in a crowd.

To begin, the front fascia is sporting a classic Alpina lower bumper. The front intake below the kidney grille is wide and thin, replacing the stock 5 Series’ three-inlet design. We also see a small lip spoiler to help keep the nose planted at speed. Above, the headlights and hood appear unchanged, but it’s possible Alpina will add some subtle vents or louvers on the way to production status.

Another telltale sign this is the B5 are the enormous, multi-spoke rims. While the stock 5 Series also gets 20-inchers, much like this test mule, the flared design in back of the camo car is particularly reminiscent of that old Alpina look. We expect something very similar for production, with forged, lightweight construction, and a few options for the color choice.

To the profile, we expect upgraded side skirts to complement the new front end, plus a new rear apron as well. These components are greyed out and plain on the tester, but these will likely gain new creases and character in the production car. Furthermore, we find quad exhaust tips set in the rear valence, a break from the regular 5 Series’ squared-off tips.

Finally, it looks like the new B5 is lowered substantially compared to the regular 5 Series, a characteristic that appears exaggerated in the spy shots due to the car’s aggressive cornering.

Basically, the B5 doesn’t look a whole lot different from the 5 Series, but it’s still got enough subtle modifications to make it stand out in a crowd.

Also, it should be noted that Alpina is gearing up to release a wagon variant called the B5 Touring. Yeah, I’m jealous too.

Interior

2017 BMW 5 Series High Resolution Interior
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Note: BMW 5 Series pictured here.

Spy shots of the new B5’s cabin have yet to surface, but given the brand’s history, there are a few obvious assumptions we can make.

For example, the layout will be identical to the regular 5 Series, but will incorporate upgraded materials at every turn. There will be high-grade wood trim, leather upholstery, piano black panels, and a slew of soft-touch materials covering just about every inch.

The layout will be identical to the regular 5 Series, but will incorporate upgraded materials at every turn.

We also expect unique stitching on the well-bolstered sports seats, plus a standard heating function. Options for customization will be plentiful, including color schemes and new technology.

Behind the multi-function, leather-trimmed steering wheel will be an Alpina-specific instrument cluster. We also expect upgraded infotainment, plus a standard, plus-sized central touchscreen mounted in the dash, a full-color heads-up display, and a slew of semi-autonomous driving systems for comfort and safety.

Drivetrain

The new 5 Series dropped with an expanded collection of all-aluminum six- and four-cylinder powerplant options. And while these engines do offer a decent wallop, the new B5 will most likely continue to employ the outgoing model’s impressive 4.4-liter V-8.

2018 Alpina B5 Exterior Spyshots
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Equipped with a double dose of turbocharged goodness, the boosted eight-cylinder will see output of at least 600 horsepower

Equipped with a double dose of turbocharged goodness, the boosted eight-cylinder will see output of at least 600 horsepower. We’ve heard rumors that 580 horsepower is possible, but considering the outgoing Biturbo model makes 600 horses and 590 pound-feet of torque, a downgrade doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense.

Granted, the G30’s lighter chassis should make the new car faster than the old in either circumstance. That means a sprint from 0-to-62 mph in the low-four-second range, possibly breaking into the high three’s. Top speed will exceed 200 mph.

Routing the prodigious output will be an eight-speed automatic gearbox, which will also get the Alpina treatment before it reaches customers. Expect multiple driving modes, faster shifts, and more aggressive engagement.

Putting the power down will likely be a RWD system equipped with a hard-hitting mechanical limited-slip differential, but it’s possible Alpina will take a crack at BMW’s xDrive AWD system as well.

Chassis And Handling

2018 Alpina B5 Exterior Spyshots
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Like I said in the section above, the new G30 is lighter than before, with up to 137 pounds cut thanks to the inclusion of materials like high-tensile strength steel, aluminum, and even magnesium.

That should make a real difference in the way this car drives and feels, and I look forward to seeing how Alpina plans on maximizing the weight loss.

That should make a real difference in the way this car drives and feels, and I look forward to seeing how Alpina plans on maximizing the weight loss.

Speaking of which, expect the new B5 to come equipped with active suspension components. That means upgrades to the double-wishbones in front and five-link set-up in the rear, with automatic anti-roll stabilization provided by self-adjusting shocks, plus front and rear sway bars and custom-tuned springs.

Also expect full driver control from the cockpit, with a choice between either comfort or sport for the settings. It would also be nice to see a setting to raise the ride height when taking on speed bumps or steeply angled driveways.

Also, if the new B5 does get a revamped xDrive system, I’d like to see it include the Integral Active Steering feature, which will help it achieve crisper turn-in and less of the nose-heavy characteristics so common amongst high-powered AWD sports cars.

Finally, the new B5 will use plus-sized brakes, with four-piston fixed calipers from Brembo clamping on rotors that are 15.5-inches in diameter.

Prices

Pricing for the new B5 will most likely slot above the M5, coming in at around 115,000 euros, or roughly 85,000 pounds if you happen to live in the U.K.

If Alpina does decide to bring this monster stateside, interested buyers should expect to lay down at least $110,000, possibly more.

And keep in mind those prices are before you start checking over options and customization programs.

Competition

BMW M5

2018 BMW M5 Exterior Exclusive Renderings Computer Renderings and Photoshop
- image 684845
TopSpeed artist rendering from 2 years ago...not bad!

Yes, I know it’s very similar to the B5, but the M5 should still be considered an alternative to Alpina’s beast. The styling will differ, gaining larger aero, a deeper front fascia, and a diffuser in back. The current model boasts an impressive 560 horsepower from that aforementioned 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8, but the new model will most likely see a bump to 580 ponies. The interior will also come with a little less gloss. Expect pricing below that of the B5.

Read the full review on the BMW M5 here.

Mercedes-AMG E63 S 4Matic

2017 Mercedes-AMG E63 High Resolution Exterior
- image 662092

Packing a 5.5-liter V-8 crammed with two turbos, the E63 is certainly not hurting in the power department, laying down an impressive 577 horsepower. Routing the muscle to all four wheels is a seven-speed automatic transmission, while the cabin gets packed with just about every bell and whistle you can imagine for a high-end sports sedan. Even more appealing is the prospect of getting all these goodies in a more practical package with the AMG E63 S wagon.

Read the full review on the Mercedes-AMG E63 S 4Matic here.

Conclusion

2018 Alpina B5 Exterior Spyshots
- image 692251

While it’s unlikely we’ll see the new B5 on these shores, it’s not totally out of the question. Alpina is already selling us the B7 and B6 Gran Coupe, so maybe if there’s enough interest, the B5 will come over as well.

But beyond the prospect of seeing this thing on roads in the U.S., the new Alpina B5 looks to continue a long line of handsome, well-appointed, endlessly luxurious super sleds from the German-based tuner/manufacturer.

In particular, I can’t wait to see what happens with the G30 underpinnings. Yes, 600 horsepower is pretty exciting too, but paired with even better handling and driving dynamics, the new B5 is sure to be a hit.

Of course, it’s certainly not a cheap proposition, but if you’ve got the outlay, this is the one to get to one-up the M5.

  • Leave it
    • Absurdly expensive
    • Is it really that much better than the M5?
    • Probably won’t come stateside
What do you think?
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